Light And Fresh At Porto Fino

 Longtime server Timothy Grill - the first hired when Porto Fino opened three years ago – dishes out Angry Mussels during a Monday afternoon visit.

Longtime server Timothy Grill - the first hired when Porto Fino opened three years ago – dishes out Angry Mussels during a Monday afternoon visit.

For the last three years, Porto Fino restaurant has delighted a diverse cross-section of diners with pizza, pints and fine Southern Italian cuisine.

In Huntington, they’ve made themselves a perfect fit in a town that appeals to families, gourmands and people seeking a little nightlife all at once.

“You can come and grab a slice and go. You can come and have a drink at the bar, you can come and have a nice dinner,” co-owner Gianni Vigliotti said. His partner is Ralph Carusso, and has been for the last year and a half. “We try to hit every field we can with what we do here.”

Indeed, there’s plenty to keep diners coming back for more; many regulars are still hitting new items on chef Tony Mejia’s menu for the first time.

That jack-of-all-trades attitude extends to the restaurant’s brand-new lunch menu, designed to be light and quick for the guest on the go who doesn’t want to eat at their desk.

Vigliotti says it’s Huntington’s best lunch menu, and we’d be hard-pressed to argue with him. They might have one of the best beer and wine menus – their newly-unveiled collection boasts 20 and 50 varieties, respectively.

The classic lunch items – a $6.50 wrap and Panini menu, $9.50 salads (add $1.50 for a chopped salad), $8.50 pastas and $10 entrees, remain, and are accompanied now by an array of appetizers, pizettes and specialty dishes. They delve into brunch territory with a half-dozen Frittata selections, like the spicy and savory sausage ($7) and pepper frittata, served in the shape of a pizette.

Or try the Drunken Mussels – a white wine, garlic and oil broth with fresh herbs. For spice, turn to the Angry Mussels (each $10) a mélange of spicy marinara with cherry peppers and basil (each $10), that’s sweet at first blush and finishes with a nice little kick from the slices of cherry peppers. The meaty mussels are delivered every day, meaning only the freshest reach your plate.

For flavorful harmony, check out Burrata & Carciofo ($10), a salad of arugula, endive, radicchio and tomatoes. The smoky grilled flavor of fresh-grilled artichoke hearts, finished with a splash of mandarin-orange olive oil, is a perfect blend.

 Burrata and grilled artichoke hearts take center stage in Burrata & Carciofo.

Burrata and grilled artichoke hearts take center stage in Burrata & Carciofo.

And the Caprese pizette ($9.50) boasts mozzarella, sliced tomato, garlic and homemade pesto in perfect harmony atop perfectly prepared pizza dough. Pasta, like Fettucine de Mar ($21.95) featuring baby shrimp and scallops tossed in baby arugula and a brandy pink cream sauce,  hits the spot any time of day.

 Fettucine de Mar pairs al-dente pasta, a light pink cream sauce and fresh seafood.

Fettucine de Mar pairs al-dente pasta, a light pink cream sauce and fresh seafood.

Entrée items like Branzino filet – not even listed on the menu – are among the most popular, as are pizza and a pint after a show at the Paramount. Specialty plates, like expertly prepared grilled shrimp ($18) pairs the woody grilled flavor with chopped vegetables and a dash of balsamic.

 Light grilled shrimp, dressed in balsamic and tossed in chopped vegetables, is a summery specialty dish.

Light grilled shrimp, dressed in balsamic and tossed in chopped vegetables, is a summery specialty dish.

But even where light and fresh is the focus, there’s no way you should ever leave an Italian restaurant without dessert. That’s where our waiter Timmy – the first person Gianni hired three years ago, we’re told – came to the rescue with chocolaty, light tiramisu and miniature cannolis - a sweet conclusion indeed.