After an entire day of fast food on Friday … I was ready for something really tasty by the time my sister and I went looking for lunch on Saturday. She said “what would you like to eat?” … and I said “take me to your favorite local place” … so she pointed us straight toward Portifino’s!
For you GPSers, the address is:
6407 Ringgold Road
Chattanooga, TN 37412
Yes, Faithful Reader … no website … which surprises me in a city as large as Chattanooga. However, one look at the take-out menu I snagged by the front desk told me everything I needed to know. This is an old-style local restaurant, the kind that’s been around forever … and still sells advertising space on their menus to other local businesses. The owners probably still think that billboards on the side of the highway just aren’t going to last as an advertising medium
I knew when I walked in the door I was going to like the place. Why? Some magical, mystical sense of the food they served … simply by the ambiance of long-established Italian and Greek eatery?
Nope! I knew I was going to like Portifino’s … because I recognized it as a place we’d eaten once before, on another visit to my sisters!
They had the buffet up and running (which is what we ate the last time we went there), but I decided I wanted to see what the menu had to offer. My sis kept raving about their Greek Combo Plate, but a couple of other things caught my attention instead. The first was the soup of the day, a really yummy lentil soup that reminded me of a thick minestrone: filled with pasta, celery, tomatoes, carrots and more.
I really enjoyed the soup, and made mental notes about how to make it at home. I don’t know that my husband would like it–he’s not big on lentils–but I’ll bet I could come up with a canned version of the soup that only requires me to cook some pasta once I open the jar to eat it … and I’m having my own lentil version of minestrone at home!
My sis ordered the small Greek salad as her starter … but–as you can see–those chunks of feta are anything but small!
Her Greek Combo Plate wasn’t small either. It included sliced gyro meat, two skewers of pork souvlaki (marinated and grilled white meat pork), tzatziki sauce (the classic Greek yogurt, cucumber and mint sauce), onions, tomatoes, and french fries.
I tried all of the things on her plate–and they were all excellent!–but what caught my eye on the menu was in the Italian section: Veal Picatta!
I haven’t had Veal Picatta in probably 20 years, not since my favorite old-world Italian restaurant in Savannah (called Anna’s Little Napoli) closed. It was always my favorite dish there, and Portifino’s did the classic proud. I ordered mine minus the mushrooms (I like them, but they don’t like me), but I didn’t miss them amid the wash of lemon-scented cream sauce–filled with capers and fresh tomatoes–and the tasty slices of fried veal beneath. My angel-hair pasta was perfectly done as well, not cooked to glue like many restaurants do on occasion. If I had to fault them on anything in the dish, it was that the veal was a little over-done. It was really tasty, just tough in the beginning … but it gradually softened in the cream sauce as I ate … so I can’t fault them much for it. It was simply tasty!
We were so full by the time we left that we could barely move … but the dessert tray by the register stopped us before we could get to the door … in particular, the dessert at one o’clock.
I asked the hostess–who was also the owner of the restaurant–what it was, and her response almost made me melt right where I was standing: Macadamia Nut-Caramel Cheesecake.
Needless to say, a piece went home with us! Here’s another picture, after my sister decided that she needed a bite … bad!
OMG!!!! To say it was amazing would be selling it short. They basically made the cheesecake by mounding a pile of macadamia nuts and caramel in the middle of the crust … and then surrounding it with fluffy, sour-cream infused refrigerator cheesecake. From there, they chilled it … sliced it … and served it in great big hunks. It was–quite simply–heavenly!
Final score: A!
Portifino’s deserves every shred of it! My mouth was happy from the first bite … all the way to the last bite! I’m DEFINITELY going eat there again when I’m in Chattanooga!