Bermuda’s favourite family-style Italian and Mediterranean restaurant, Portofino is undergoing a major renovation after more than 40 years in operation. Changes to the restaurant extend from the décor and include a new menu, wine list and a new head chef Maximo Villagra and Sous chef Sarath.
Since the 1970’s, the Maranzana family have served up homemade pastas and pizzas, priding themselves on their restaurant’s large portions, friendly service and affordable prices. Current owners Karen and Simone Maranzana set about rein visioning the restaurant to coincide with current dining trends but ensured us that the same charm and comfortability of the old restaurant would still be present in the updated eatery. Despite the new décor, the much-loved photos of Italy that have populated the walls of the restaurant for decades won’t be going anywhere: “They will remain but they will be enhanced,” says Simone. Enhancement is a recurring theme in the restaurant’s renovation that extends to the menu and wine list.
The menu will still focus heavily on pizza and pastas but each will be made with homemade cheeses like burrata and mozzarella, homemade sausages and the restaurant will work closely with local farmers to include locally-grown produce and herbs. In keeping up with what’s trendy, Portofino’s new menu will also include lighter options (like sea bass!) for those wanting to enjoy traditional Italian cuisine without the heavy carbohydrates found in pizza and pasta. “Rest assured though, if you dine at Portofino and one of your favourite dishes is not listed on the new menu, we’ll have our chefs make it for you,” says Simone. “We want our customers to enjoy the new menu but we appreciate that there are old favorites that are well-loved and that’s just fine. If there is a menu item that has been your favourite for 30 years, we’ll bring it back just for you.”
The new Portofino will be unveiled in a grand re-opening in the second week of February (just in time for those wanting to dine for Valentine’s Day) but until then, the restaurant’s take-out section will still be open from 11:00am to 10:00pm on Monday to Friday and 4:00pm to 10:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
When thinking about the legacy and the future of Portofino, Simone was adamant that customers can expect the same quality of service they’ve always experienced. “Italian food is about the experience,” he says. “We don’t want to stay the same forever but we also don’t want to take away from the comfortability and the family-friendly atmosphere that customers have come to rely on. The staff is the same so diners can expect to be greeted by the same friendly faces and we’ll continue to be a family restaurant even though there will be a new look.”