Portarossa

Portarossa was born in 2013, in the same place where once lived Corte Real, by the hand of Vasco Mourão, of course, and Gonçalo Correia dos Santos. Nothing was left to chance, Artur Miranda and Jacques Bec (Oitoemponto) were in charge of the decoration creating a unique atmosphere, making it one of the most elegant and well decorated spaces in the area. The concept is Italian food, focusing on Pizzas and the wood stove. It is for sure the most beautiful Italian restaurant in town, without the usual and awful decoration clichés from “our Italians”. This bet is certainly related to the old desire of Vasco Mourão of reaching a younger public than Cafeína or Terra, and it was a successful one. Nowadays it’s one of the hottest spots in town, where it’s hard to get a table, even in the terrace on a rainy day. For that it was elected by our jury as the Trendy Restaurant at the “Flavors & Senses – The Best for 2014”. (read more)

As usual in Vasco Mourão’s projects, the kitchen is in charge of the Chilean Chef Camilo Jaña, who not being Italian (maybe the personality, who knows) shows work capacity, adaptation and accuracy.

In this visit we started with the usual couvert (1,80€), a simple but correct olive cream, good quality bread, good olive oil, olives and grissinis. To which followed a variety of starters.

Gratin Mussels with peppers (8€)
I must confess that normally I don’t get pleased with the mixture of cheese and shellfish, but sometimes I have to make an exception to the rule. This was one of those times, with the fresh mussels prepared on spot, with all the elements combining between themselves and not overlapping the delicate flavor of the bivalve. Great start.

Truffled Mushroom Sfilatino (5,5€)
A pizza dough roll stuffed with mushrooms and mozzarella cheese with a light touch of truffle oil. A warm and comforting starter, where the unctuousness of the cheese and the flavor of the mushrooms worked well.

Focaccia with sausage, quail eggs and greens (4,5€)
It’s not a focaccia for sure, instead a small pizza, but we forgive the name because of the great flavor. Joining the best “linguiça” (traditional type of sausage) in Porto (is it recognizable at a distance) with the greens and the quail eggs couldn’t be more accurate, a dish that combines very well the Italian cuisine with some very Portuguese flavors. Excellent.

Marguerita DOP, fresh mozzarella and San Marzano tomato (11€)
We visit Portarossa since the beginning and I can easily say that its pizza dough is better than ever, as well as the woven technique and that is quite noticeable in this simple pizza, with a very crunchy base, even in the center where very liquid elements were placed, like the tomato and the mozzarella cheese (cooked to perfection, without losing texture or character). A classic combination of flavors where the technique could have failed, but didn’t. Great Pizza.

Calzone, mozzarella, mushrooms, ham, spinach and egg (11€)
The classic closed pizza, with nicely cooked dough, on top and on the bottom, creamy interior due to the cheese and the yolk and very well accompanied with the usual Camilo Jaña’s salad (a mix of lettuces, red onion and dried tomato). A good pizza.

Fettucine with mussels and saffron (14,5€)
Not only of pizzas and the wood stove lives the restaurant, the pasta menu has some irresistible options as well, like this fettuccine, cooked on spot and wrapped with a cream and saffron sauce and a light pepper touch. Very, very good.

Fettuccine with truffle butter and Foie gras (15,5€)
A dish that is as good as it is sinful. The fat of the Foie involving the pasta, nicely prepared, is delicious. Just the texture of the Foie wasn’t totally convincing, but the flavor made up for it, while I was wishing for some bladed truffle as the cherry on top of the cake. A different dish that will for sure become one of the icons of the house.

Vanilla Panna Cotta with wild berries (4€)
I almost never give a chance to panna cottas, they always have excess gelatin and no flavor. I always choose the one I make at home which is not easily dethroned, except for this one at Portarossa, amazing texture (I could almost say it doesn’t have any gelatin) and real vanilla spread by all the dessert. When the simplest becomes perfect, everything is good and the wild berries become a nice addiction. The only pity is that the portion is not twice its size.

Portarossa‘s wine list is unique, not only because of the references in it (rare for a Pizzeria), but for the way the wines are distributed, by price: Low Cost (9€), Value For Money (19€), Premium (29€), Super Premium (39€), Special One, Sparkling, Sangrias and Cocktails, being one of the few places in Porto where you can drink a Spritz. We accompanied out meal with a nice 2011 Kopke Tinto from the Low Cost category.

The Service opinion is based in several visits to this space, it is young and super nice, but with an unbalanced team consisting of some very good individuals and some clearly inexperienced. Even so, the service flows very well without great errors reaching its boiling point on the weekends, when Foz and another half planet goes to this small restaurant (it is not easy to manage).

Final Remarks
Portarossa is, nowadays and with just a year old existence, one of the main Italian references, the space is worthy not just because of the tasty Pizzas but also because it’s a space where it pays to be, the decoration is elegant and the service, despite a few mistakes, manages to accompany well the quality of the space and its cuisine. Speaking of cuisine, Camilo Jaña prepared an excellent and well-structured menu, betting on classics from which is impossible to run from and other creative options (for example, the Lily Carpaccio or the vanished Porto style Pizza with sardines and peppers that brings me good memories and nostalgia). The weekend nights are chaotic, in terms of people flow and the small space, but the week is long and the restaurant never closes. At lunch there’s a daily menu for 12 € that includes starter, main course and drink and at weekends there’s a traditional roasted lamb from Trás-os-Montes. Portarossa is another success of Vasco Mourão and his partner Gonçalo Correia dos Santos, not only in theory, but also in practice, being my favorite Italian place in town.

Portarossa
Rua Côrte Real, 289 Foz do Douro – Porto
+351 226 175 286.

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