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.
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.
My fiance ordered fettucine alfredo. The pasta size was satisfactory but could have been more. The sauce was really good. I would have liked to see fresh pasta used.
I had the DOV menu and enjoyed it very much. The carpaccio was excellent! The seafood entree was enjoyable as well and it was good value for DOV. The bread pudding was okay.
I will definitely come back for the carpaccio and to try the other pastas!
Definetly agree with last reviewer, the food is very tatsy. DOV is $28 for this restaurant. it is worth to have a try.
however, the service is poor. Our server doesnt take care of us at all. just sinply make order and bring the dishes....it was taken a long time for the dessert.
well...hopefully, they could improve the service in the future....i will return to give a try.
I was brought to this resturant and man it was the best pasta I have ever had. Great value for your money. Can't wait till next summer. There was 9 of us and we all took bites off eachothers plates. Everyone was amazed at how ever dish was amazing. I have been craving it ever since my return home. there clear sauce dishes are the best I have ever tasted. Great selection of ingredients and everything cooked to perfection.
A Saturday night & it was strangely quiet in Al Porto.
Maybe 1/4 full?
Anyway, a mixed hot & cold seafood starter was shared & enjoyed by the 2 of us.
Very tasty dish but the hot items were only barely warm. The seared tuna was almost cooked through. Oh & the scallops were HUGE!
The mains consisted of a veal medallion & a duck dish.
Both were well cooked, well presented & tasted nice.
Tiramisu was only ok but the creme brulee was very nice.
Service was attentive all evening but this could be down to the fact that the restaurant was quiet.
All in all a pleasant dining experience.
Cost for 2 without wine was $110
This was one I needed to review. If you're looking for authentic Italian food this is not the one you will look for. The food had more of a French taste to it leading me to beleive we weren't eating at an italian restaurant as advertised. The atmosphere of the restaurant was very nice. Candle light dinner and a very comfortable feeling throughout dinner. We had a very friendly waiter with a sense of humour. Although it was a pleasant experience I left feeling hungry still. I believe we spent nearly $90 and I was still left waning more, even after dessert. Give it a try and please keep in mind you could do alot better than this place.
Tried this one during DineOut Vancouver last year. The menu looks attractive. The food in my opinion was really good. My family truly enjoyed it. Love the Cornish game hen dish and the chocolate cake. The server was very friendly too.
Al Porto is a great hideaway from mainstream attractions and
general themed restaurants. A touch of class, the diner can
sit and relax , receive professional service and enjoy a
progressive Italian cuisine. Excellente!
my husband and i decided to split an insalata mista(salad), quattro stagioni pizza, and a slice of tiramisu. our waiter was very friendly, attentive, welcoming, and informative throughout our meal. lunch began with warm, crusty on the outside, soft on the inside complimentary bread and soft, spreadable butter. we quickly polished off the bread, and after we declined a refill, the waiter offered to bring more bread anytime, should we change our minds! :) the salad that we informed the waiter that we would split arrived on two plates, so beautifully presented that i worried we would be charged for two(only charged for one:)). the pizza was cooked to perfection, with a thin, light, flavorful crust and savory toppings. the tiramisu was beautiful- moist, creamy, and delicious, but seemed a bit light on the espresso, which would have provided more balance to the sweetness of the cake and mascarpone. the food preparation was perfection, and all ingredients seemed to be of very high quality. the salad, pizza, and bread made for a substantial, satisfying lunch- totally got our money's worth. this most charming, delightful meal concluded with a cup of rich, flavorful espresso. we will definitely return. cheers!
What can I say? The food is terrific, the service is attentive (almost TOO attentive) and the ambience is nice. The menu is lengthy and varied. The "early bird" specials are excellent value. I do recommend the duck entree; it is truly excellent! The deserts are nice, too. Thanks for an excellent meal!
I've been here a few times in the last 4 years, on weeknights and weekends, and finally this week for lunch. I always enjoy the meal but am surprised that the place is never more than half full. I think locals consider it more of a restaurant for the tourists. I have found it quite consistent, with good food, usually decent service, and nice decor.
I was spoiled with extremely good gnocchi in Niagara the first time I tried it so I'm quite critical and Al Porto is one place that does a great gnocchi. It's just a shame (to me) that they only serve it with tomato-based sauces. I prefer a mushroom cream or cheese sauce, but that's just me. They make all their pastas fresh and I've enjoyed each one that I've tried. I have also enjoyed the duck and yesterday I tried the veal milanese and that was also good. The chocolate ganache torte was velvety goodness for dessert, just enough to be satisfying.
Service has always been decent on our visits, but never outstanding. The male waiters are always friendly and a bit talkative but seem a bit over-the-top to me, like they're trying too hard to make you feel good so you'll tip well. Yesterday the waiter was doing that to me but almost completely ignoring my uncle, to the extent that when I ordered my dessert he walked away from the table without asking if my uncle wanted anything! Other than that he was good, though... noticed when he took our drink order that the bread hadn't arrived and brought it right away, and our waters were topped-up regularly enough. On our first visit we were given a fabulous recommendation on a red wine, just like a previous reviewer. This is a place to linger a bit as the kitchen isn't super speedy with each course.
The prices aren't cheap, but the food is always good so I'd say the value is solid. It's cheaper than somewhere like Il Giardino, which it should be because it doesn't have premium inventive dishes on the menu. And for dinner you can get 2-for-1 entrees with the Entertainment book, repeatedly throughout the year, so you don't have to wait for Dine Out for better value.
The friendly wait staff really made our night at this little hidden jem in gastown. The food here is incredible, with a good variety of items on the menu. Would recommend in a heart beat. Tried the osso bucco and it was the best I've had in a long time, right out of Italy. The restaurant also has a lot of charm and character that you don't see in too many new places in town.
Al Porto has got to be the strangest little Italian dining establishment in the world.
Think about it: basement/"dungeon" level dining, no host/hostess, cranky staff, gaudy artwork, yet good food. The calamari alone is worth trying.
But... the initial service is below passing grade - I give it a solid F.
Why do they even participate in "Dine Out" if they are going to insult every customer who wants to sample their menu and try the promo? Absolute hypocrites.
After being insulted and complaining directly to the waiter, I received a wimpy handshake and apology from the flustered manager who seated me, and a complimentary bottle of rather satisfactory Chianti.
Poor poor service right through the door, confusing floor tiles (which induce vertigo on cue), a chef from heaven, weird atmosphere with a hint of Spanish villa for some reason.
Strange little place.
Stay away. Or boycott like I shall.
When my Mom and I went recently, the food was excellent and the ambiance was great but our waiter was pushy and neglected to explain the menu properly and did not listen to our order properly. We ended up paying an extra $45.00 on our bill for something that we were told was part of the items we chose... Not impressed with the service.
Fantastic slice of pizza! Vancouver's best for sure. My slices were a thick slice of heaven. Very tasty sauce, just enough cheese, and amazing artichoke topping! I couldn't finish the whole pizza myself even when pushing down with wine, so its exceptional value for your dollar.
This pizza was served in a dimly lit fancy shamzy restaurant sure but the service is good and attractive and they could sell it for double! AND they are very busy! Flavourful and recommended.
The food is really good. If pizza, seafood, risotto, you name it. All good. The service is much better than another "classy italian places".Servers very polites, professionals, lots of courtesy in here. Stars with bread until the desserts, olnly good words to say. Still have a bonus: the view of north shore. Worth another visit.
Al Portos restaurant was the best Italian Experience I have had in Vancouver!
I decided to stop into Al Portos when on a recent trip to Gastown. Besides initial confusion on how to get into the restaurant (go down the alley not through the door in the middle of the building)it was a great experience.
As we went for lunch we decided to split a a few pizzas with out table. The pizza was the real deal. Thin crust and tasted really fresh. We watched the cook put it into the oven and take it out at just the right time. We got given complimenty bread and it got refilled twice during out meal.
The service we recieved was very high quality. Our server was nice and did her job very well. The only reason that it was not incredible was that while she was a very good server she didn't do anything that went above and beyond our expectations. She met them... but didn't exceed them.
The value for money was outstanding. It is on the higher price range for pizza but the quality was totally worth it. I will keep going back again and again...
The ambiance here was lovely. From the moment we walked in we felt welcomed and warm. The colours are rich and the temperature was perfect. We were seated straight away even though we did not have a reservation. There was a small light on our table which I really felt added to the at home feeling I got from being at Al Portos.
I would definatly recommend this to all. I know I will be going back again!
We had a great dining experience and really enjoyed the service we had from our waiter. He was personable, had a sense of humour, and helpfully provided a Tide Stain stick when we had an energetic tomato explode onto a white shirt. The food was delicious and very reasonably priced for the quality! We had a small group of 4 and we had a large round table that provided ample space for bread, appies, wine, water, and meals without feeling cramped or on top of each other. We will definitely consider it again in the future.
Great service: Waitress was awesome; gave David free coca cola refills even though the restaurant doesn't give free refills; our table was boisterous and borderline crazy but the waitress handled us well.
Food was delicious: stuff we ordered include this broth dish with cheesy dumplings (flavourful but not overwhelming); a pizza; a salad; and a girly drink (it was blue and pretty).
Expensive, but quite worth it if you want to take guests out to a classy joint.
Review by Fish on behalf of The Last Supper, recorded 2007-06-23, uploaded 2007-08-21
Food and the service a A+. The restaurant was not 2 busy, it was a monday night, but a fair number of tables.
They offered drinks right away. We got appys and very fast service. Main meal was was just on time, hot, and a solid value for your money. I was there for a BDay party, and i can say i will go back.