Al Porto Ristorante is located in historic Gastown by the city's waterfront. The restaurant specializes in seafood and Italian delicacies, including woodfire pizza served in a rustic Tuscan ambience.
Food: beef carpaccio was pretty good. texture was nice...couldve maybe used a bit of capers but still very tasty. ample portion. my b/f had the chicken liver pate which he enjoyed. it only came w/ 3 crostini's but they did refill our bread basket so we spread the pate on that instead. fair serving of the pate. roasted chicken and veal scaloppine were both good. not blow me away but satisfying. dessert was a bit weak. chocolate pave and fruit custard pie was a bit disappointing. I was really expecting a bit more...more of a taste explosion? the pie especially was a bit bland.
Service: exceptional. our waiter was very professional. from taking orders and serving the women first to making wine suggestions and taking care of our bill. the bus boys didnt know proper dining etiquette too much, but they were polite and kept our waters filled!
Value: good size of portions for the money. value was def there for dineout.
Ambiance: very busy on a friday nite. interior decor is very rustic and has an authentic feel to it. i like how there are little rooms off to the sides so you can have some privacy for larger groups.
Overall: based on this experience i would definitely return to try their regular menu.
ate here a while back with some friends from out of the country and i remembered the food was simple yet satisfying... ordered the penne with sausage and thought it could have been better, both in terms of taste and quantity... could not really classify it as all that memorable but it did its job.
the service was great, our waitress was in our area either to check on our meals or to fill up our glasses with water so it was easy to find her when we needed her help with something.
the prices are very reasonable, they do not charge you an arm and a leg for solid italian food that you might have to pay elsewhere but the quantity of food you receive brings that aspect of it down.
love the ambiance in this place, makes you feel like you are in an authentic italian restaurant with the decor and layout, great job with that!
i would return to Al Porto, they have so much variety in their menu that i would like to try the other dishes, i am sure ill be coming here soon enough.
Had lunch today and I was very surpised as the food and service was not bad. I had the blue cheese salad which is ok but not outstanding. The special they had today was black cod which was very good. The portion size was good and it was very well presented with some lentils. I like this and so would not right it off like my previous review.
The restaurant was not busy at lunch today.
Keep up with the good work.
We decided to give Al Porto a try while in Gastown last week. The restaurants ambiance is quite nice, cozy, Italian and inviting. We were warmly greeted and quickly shown to a table (without a reso)by the hostess. Our server arrived quickly and offered the daily specials. Service was friendly, attentive and helpful. All our needs were anticipated (extra share plates, cutlery, fresh cracked pepper & parmigiano with all courses.)Being lunch time, our party of four decided to order two starters and two pizzas to share. The Tomato Basil Soup was delicious (with Parmesan of course!) The Catanese salad was just okay. The menu described the dish as being served with roasted red peppers and feta, we received 2 slices of fresh red bell pepper and no feta, dressing was tasy but the rest of the salad needed work! Margherita and Quattro Formaggio Pizzas were quite good. Not the best Italian inspired pizzas we've had but really quite tasty, evident fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes were used. Complimentry bread was apreciated, would have been better served warm with room temperature butter instead of room temperature with frozen butter. Overall we'd definitely give Al Porto a try for dinner, would love to try their pastas and other starters! Would reccomend this restaurant for an Italian evening in Gastown.
Another couple joined us for dinner here over the wknd. We had a reso and were sat right away. Although I was slightly disappointed where we were sat, it was very close to the entrance at a large 6 person round table, we all felt really far away from eachother but got over it shortly after; we noticed that it was super busy and that there would be no where to move us if we had asked.
They offered us the Dine Out menu, the regular menu and the wine list. Nothing terribly interesting jumped out at me from the DO menu so we opted to share a few plates instead, my girl friend ordered from the regular menu and her bf tried Dine Out.
Our food was nice, we shared the beef carpaccio - capers, vinagrette, fairly mild, not too much flavor from the beef, the mussels - 'traditional broth', I've definatley had better elsewhere, the broth was salty and the meat was really small; I know they can't help that but the type wasn't that greatest, still ate it though; obviously. We also shared a ceasar salad which was good.
Our gf also had the mussels and she felt the same way we did, for her entree she had the clam pasta; she wasn't a fan but I tried it and I really liked it, fresh, clean clam flavour, perfectly cooked pasta, light olive oil base. Yummy, I'd definalty order that.
As for the DOV- who are friend had- looked really poor. The carpaccio was the same as ours, good not great, his pasta course was rigatoni in a tomato sauce but it tasted like ketchup- really sweet, it was poorly seasoned and bland, plain, it tasted like pizza sauce not pasta sauce. His dessert was also really sad looking, 2 limp pieces of chocolate 'fudge' cake, thin, thin piece with a drizzle of white chocolate sauce. We commented to the server who btw was really nice; he was new and nervous but did a great job, and made our dining experience enjoyable- anyhow we mentioned it tasted like tootsie rolls that you get at halloween; he got a kick out of that for sure; he mentioned that people always comment on the dessert, enough said.
Overall we had a good time, nice wine list, lovely service, solid food.
I'd definalty come back eventually - but I'd ask to be sat at a better table or at least away from the door next time, as for dine out I'd skip it and order off the regular menu which was plentiful and I'm sure pretty good.
Al Porto has been a dependable spot for many years. Ownership has changed and Umberto is no longer there, although the name remains.
Al Porto is located in the heart of the once trendy Gastown, which now unfortunately has become seedy and appears to be turning into more of a nightclub district. The menu was familiar & the prices downtown. There was not a hint of the absence of Umberto's influence until our waiter arrived.
No, they couldn't make a hot buttered rum, no they didn't have any eggnog ( it is Xmas) & they couldn't substitute Tia Maria in a Monte Cristo, because, you guessed it, they didn't have any.
They were out of Halibut.
Dinner service was slow and the attitude one of indifference throughout the meal. When asked what the vegetable of the day was, the response was "I don't know "(it was carrots & broccoli). One would have thought by 9:30 on a Sat night, the waiter might have glanced at the plates of what he was serving his guests.
Food quality however was overall good. The carrot soup starter was pronounced "thin." For the entrees, two had the rack of lamb and describded it as delicious. Three had a seafood medley and I had the sablefish special. Portions are not large, but for those who had an appetizer, they were satisfied.
Everyone knows great service can make middle of the road food a pleasant dining experience. And conversley, good food can be dragged down by poor service. I'm afraid our experience fell in the latter category.
Maybe it was an off night for the waiter, but in this city and at these prices, you rarely get a second chance these days. As an aside, we finished our meal up the block at the Pan Pacific where a hot buttered rum was produced, with an explanation by the bartender as to how it is prepared & differs from a rum toddy. It was 10:45 at night, but he and the waitress in a packed hotel full of Xmas parties could not have been more friendly and helpful.
Did lunch on a Groupon. We really weren't expecting much based upon some of the previous reviews and the location, being situated in touristy Gastown. The antipasto for two was excellent and included quality prosciutto, three large prawns, provolone, salami, tomatoes, arugula, and some pickled veggies. Mains consisted of a good sized Atlantic lobster (which the kitchen had kindly split in half and cracked open the claws) with a side of al dente pasta which was substituted for risotto by request at no additional cost, and a delicious grilled scallop and prawn combo. Both dishes were accompanied by perfectly cooked green beans, squash and beets. Service was extremely pleasant and professional. Only complaint was that the chocolate ganache tort for dessert was rather tasteless. Will definitely be back.
I went there for dinner last Saturday with 5 friends. We asked for appies - well done. Main course, pretty good also, very consistent, nothing to complain at all. The desserts OK, could be a little better. Wine list with good options. The service was the weak point of our visit. Nothing exceptional, and we had to wave lots of time to our server, but It's a ggod place to go, really.
Tonight I went to Al Porto for Dine Out Vancouver. I also went there last year and it wasn't too bad but this year was horrible.
First off, neither the waiter nor the bus-people were smiling or very friendly or careful about their service. We had empty glasses of water almost all night.
The appetizers came as soon as we ordered - it was like fast food. My boyfriend had beef tenderloin carpaccio and I had the tuscan parfait (a pate). Both were OK-sized portions, tasted alright.
Then it took about 1/2 hour for the entree to come. My boyfriend had the Angus beef loin. When we ordered, the waiter didn't even ask how well he wanted it done - we had to advise him of that when he brought the appys. The portions were quite small, maybe 4 oz. I ordered the "Mixed Seafood Grill" - this was not what I expected AT ALL. It should have said "Mixed/Grilled Seafood Skewer". There was one piece of salmon about the size of two thumbs, one piece of halibut the same size, both very dry. There were also two prawns and a scallop - all tasted burnt. The sauce tasted almost like nothing. With a clump of mashed potatoes and a couple pieces of veggies, that was my entree - 5 bite size pieces of seafood.
Dessert portions were again quite small, but did taste OK - mine did anyway.
Anyway, I was not impressed. I would probably not go back again.
Should have read the earlier reviews. This place is just ok.
Mussel starters were very good. Big and juicy and very fresh.
But the veal marsala was way too greasy. In a rush and everything was so slow that I didn't want to bother sending it back.
Service was non existent.
Food was not disappointing but neither impressive. Service was where I had to struggle this time; everything is so slow and I had to spend 1.5 hrs just to eat a pasta, Parmesan was brought when half of the pasta was all eaten. I think it is ok to spend here if just coming for food for a slow lunch, but I would not recommend if interested in a perfect time spending in Gastown. I myself probably would not try this place again...
Penne with Gorganzola and Penne Salsiccia was fine but seemed to lack complexity of flavor that would have made it a memorable meal. Service was good but not extraordinary as we needed to ask for water and knives for one place setting. The meal was served very quick and it was a busy Saturday night. Pizza looked fantastic, we will return to try the pizza.
There's not a whole lot of Italian fare in gastown, and for the last year I had been heading over to the Old Spaghetti Factory across the street from where I work whenever I had a hankering for Italian. It was kind of a running joke among the staff -- the food's pretty awful there but we just kept on going. Until someone told us to check out Al Porto up the street. MUCH BETTER. They run a lunch special which is actually a very good deal. At dinner they also make the best veal gnocchi, it's tender and well seasoned (and I usually don't like gnocchi!) It's also got more of that local family-owned feel than a lot of the chain restaurants in the city. Definitely would recommend.
I went to this restaurant for my anniversary after reading positive reviews on this site and others. I had high expectations and ended up disappointed.
First, we were sitting upstairs which is supposed to be a little more swanky. The waitress warned us that is was really busy downstairs and that our service would be slow. It was. Strike 1.
When our starter bread came, it wasn't warm. Plus, the butter was hard and cold! It was terribly hard to spread and seemed like a terrible oversite for an Italian restaurant. Strike 2.
My boyfriend ordered one of the meat entrees which he said was OK. I ordered a margherita pizza and was shocked to see one side totally burned and inedible! Because of this restaurant's reputation, I thought I was in for the best pizza of my life. Not so. Strike 3.
I'd like to excuse them because they were super busy. But, all restaurants get super busy on the weekends. If you want to maintain a top reputation, you need to offer high end service any night of the week.
We dined at Al Porto with a larger-ish group (8 ppl or so) for Dine Out Vancouver. Although the restaurant wasn't terribly busy, our waiter was impatient, inattentive and flat out rude. He seemed so annoyed that he even had to wait on our table. And when he came to tell us that some of the listed specials on the fixed menu were not available at the time, he didn't apologize or give an explanation, he merely told us that it was our bad luck that we couldn't have them.
We couldn't figure out what we had done to be treated so poorly, because we are certainly not a group of people that would leave a bad tip or even dine and dash! We are also avid foodies, always looking for new exciting restaurants to dine at. We enjoy Dine Out Vancouver because (normally) it's a chance for restaurants to showcase themselves. Unfortunately, Al Porto demonstrated itself to have absolutely terrible service, mediocre ambiance, and an uninviting atmosphere.
I don't recommend Al Porto, and strongly encourage others to eat elsewhere.
Great pizza, great value, and always service with a smile. Theres a reason why its its business.
When applied selectively, herbs and spices are a great way to enhance the flavor of a pizza. Carpet-bombing the pie with clusters of herbs, however, overwhelms the palate and prevents the other great pizza flavors from emerging, ruining the entire eating experience. Including an excess of herbs is an easy way to mask poor ingredients in a pizza.
Al porto does not make this mistake... great job
I ordered a tenderloin and subbed the veggies for a linguine pseto. Wife had slamon with veggies. My tenderloin arrived with very skinny asparagus stalks that were somewhat warm and stringly. The tenderloin was served on top of the linguine in a wide bowl, and horrors, it had been cut into 3 pieces. I hate when they do that! It too was warm only and tough. After dinner I mentioned to the waiter that the tenderloin was dry because it hadn't been served with the peppercorn sauce, he replied that the chef didn't want the sauce to run over the linguine! To which I replied that if the meat had been served on a plate, instead of a bowl, that wouldn't have been a problem!
The wife didn't complain about her fish, but her meal included some kind of bread like cake substance that was at best tasteless. All in all we didn't stay for desert cause the culinary experince was boring.
Food was poor:
The plates were hot, the food was not. The pizza was poorly made, it was soggy in the center, and badly baked. There was flour that came off on our hands, and we could taste the raw flour. The other dishes were ordered were too salty. We sent the pizza back.
I'm basing decent food as food I would get from McDonalds. McDonalds food is hot and edible. Lukeware and overly salty food is poor food in my standards.
The bread took 30 minutes to arrive, the appetizers took 1 hour to arrive, the main course took 2 hours to arrive. The pizza we sent back wasn't even taken off our bill until we reminded the waitress, and even then, we had to remind the waitress twice.
30 minutes after we arrived the candle on the table went out and it wasn't relit until the food came almost 2 hours since we arrived.
If the food was warm, not overly salty, and the pizza was not half-baked it may have been worth it.
However, 15% gratuity on service and lukewarm overly salty food is not my idea of good value.
The place was dim and loud. Decore was nice.
Finally decided to start writing some reviews!
My husband and I were with our young son in Gastown, and craving Italian. We ended up at Al Porto, a place we haven’t been to in years. What a great re-discovery. We had forgotten what an great feeling this restaurant has. It’s a large restaurant, but has a warm and cozy atmosphere. I love the decor.
Our son was entertained with the man at the pizza oven and the pizza had to be the most authentic Italian we’ve had in Vancouver.
We shared an antipasto platter to start. Again, very authentic. Lots of colour, textures and clean flavours. We were very impressed with the quality of the cheeses and meats.
For the main course, I had the vongole. A dish that I have missed for too long. It was perfect. My husband had the rack of lamb for under $30. He raved.
The service was great. The waiter introduced us to a terrific Italian red wine within our price point. He obviously knew his wines and seemed proud of the list (which was quite extensive).
Overall, the combination of quality and value at Al Porto was something special. I am so glad we ‘re-discovered’ this place. I’ll definitely be returning with some friends.
A lack of solid execution in all areas.
Al Porto has an excellent location, a character building in Gastown, and a clean, Mediterranean Italian theme decor. However, our seating at a table was delayed 10 minutes or more after we arrived. We waited at the bar, but we had made reservations for this day made weeks before. The front staff were either not prepared, or there were not enough resources to start the evening. Surprising considering this was a Saturday night, and it was Valentine's Day, something a busy restaurant should always be prepared for.
Service execution could have been much better. We ordered drinks and our food at the same time, however we did not receive our drinks until well after our appetizers had been served. This was something considering we ordered the foie gras. One could not begin our foie gras without the wine to enjoy it with. We asked for coffee with our dessert when our meat course plates were removed, but yet again the coffee arrived after we completed our desserts. Al Porto either did not have enough wait staff, or the leadership of the wait team has failed to set and lead an example of best in service for every customer, at every moment, until the last customer has left the restaurant. We received more attentive and complete service from the young lady bussing our table, as she noticed when our bread required refilling, along with our water glasses.
Food execution could have been much better. The starting bread could have been much better. In fact I will bet my meal tab that it was bought bread. Al Porto serves pizza, so there should not be an excuse to make fresh bread. The butter that was served with it was cold hard, and without the bread being warm, it could not be spread. It should have been freshly whipped during prep, not little slabs on ice.
It was obvious that foie gras is not regularly a part of Al Porto's menu. Their team must have been afraid of over-cooking it as the smaller cut of foie gras was not properly caramelized on both sides with a hot enough pan. The veal medallions were flat. It was as though they had not been seasoned prior to being seared. The mushroom sauce was great, but without the veal done right, the dish fails. Also, the veal came close to being over-cooked. Another minute in the oven and it would have been dry. The Osso Buco was not a failure, but for the price I have had better at places like Pasta Polo in Coquitlam.
Finally, on food execution, it is easy to tell that a completed dish is sitting under a warmer awaiting the completion of a companion order for a table. The dish is always hotter than the food. This was evident in our meat course. This was also an indication that Al Porto was having problems with execution and timing of cooking an order. This should not have been a problem on a set menu considering that it is based on the regular menu, and that customers could only order from the set menu.
Food choice for the set menu is also an indicator on the creative and skill choice of the Al Porto team. Set menus are an opportunity to demonstrate to potential customers the capabilities of their team, and that their regular menu is worthy of inclusion in a customer's regular restaurant options. However, the set menu for Valentine's Day was almost exclusively from the regular menu.
One area that any restaurant can loose on are bathrooms. Any well run restaurant will have appealing bathrooms that are always spotless. A restaurant of Al Porto's seating capacity should have an attendant focused on bathrooms. Now, Al Porto's bathrooms were clean at the beginning of the evening's service. However, the decor was dated and undermined the aura of the decor in Al Porto's many dining areas. Just as the food execution undermined the menu and Al Porto's location and ambience. To be a part of our regular restaurant options, Al Porto has some work to do, and attain a higher level of standards.