I first heard about the restaurant at work as we had held a Christmas dinner there years ago and that they enjoyed it. Then when I learned that my friends were getting engaged and looking for a venue to host their celebration dinner, I seconded their idea of having it at Al Porto. I think it was a very nice venue for special occasions such as an engagement dinner. The Loft Room was beautiful with a gorgeous view and offers a intimate, private setting for the group.
As there were 30 guests, the host saved us trouble by picking a 4-course group menu. Wow the 4-course dinner was just too much food, especially for a petite woman, i.e. me! I tried all dishes in my best ability and went home with a tiny belly but it was worth it. Throughout the dinner I actually heard mixed review on the dishes, but I think what I picked was good.
First off, everyone had the Caprese Salad to start. It was a simple green salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. Although I like the lightness of bocconcini, I personally found that it was a bit too much. And the fennel was a bit bland – the salad dressing didn’t really help. The Mezzelune was good. It’s stuffed pasta and the cheese filling was creamy and yum! For entree, I chose the Pan Seared Sablefish and it was moist. The skin could be crisped up a little more. The polenta really surprised me. It’s crispy and a good carb alternative. The other two options were Roasted Chicken Breast and Roasted Strip Loin. A friend of mine tasted all three dishes and he said the sablefish was the best of three. With dessert, guests were given the choice of either Chocolate Ganache Torte or Gelato. As a chocoholic, obviously I went for the ganache torte. It was rich and moist.
I have to give them props for serving a group of 30 guests in a tight space. If my memory serves me right, there were about 5 servers dedicated to our dinner and they were all very friendly. It was a bit unorganized at times – not taking orders in order or not returning with what you asked for – but they didn’t mix up the orders. The restaurant closes at 10:30pm but our party didn’t leave until 11:30pm and I didn’t hear a complaint from them. They just started cleaning quietly as they waited for us to go. Good service.
The Loft Room was definitely the perfect location for the dinner. The decor and lighting speaks intimacy and sets up a romantic tone. The view of Burrard Inlet and Canada Place was right in front of us, and it was just gorgeous. Al Porto is a two-storey restaurant, with the main dining room and the Wine Room in the basement (ground floor, depending on how you see it) and the Loft Room on the main floor (second floor). I walked through the main dining room and saw a glimpse of the Wine Room. All in all, the restaurant is very nicely decorated.
I think the restaurant did a good job on helping create a memorable evening for the happy couple. There wasn’t any mishaps.
Al Porto Ristorante
Price Range: $20-$30
321 Water Street, Vancouver