By Connor Beach
Diners craving the distinct flavors of Italy in a casual and relaxed atmosphere need look no further than Porto Fino in Huntington village.
Porto Fino opened its New York Avenue doors six years ago as a unique alternative to the town’s multitude of pizzerias and traditional Italian restaurants. Co-owner Gianni Vigliotti said the restaurant’s location attracts a diverse crowd ranging from local business people looking for a quick lunch to families and couples looking for a meal before heading to The Paramount.
“We absolutely love being in the village. It’s a great mix of people,” Vigliotti said. “You got your business people, you got your family people and you got your nightlife people. When you have a diverse group of people like that, it really does make the day go by.”
Vigliotti, 36, manages the kitchen with more than 20 years in the restaurant business, while his partner Ralph Caruso is in charge of the front of house.
Vigliotti said the pizza and food at Porto Fino set them apart in a village market where customers are attracted by the wide variety of eateries.
“There are so many other places in town, it’s nice to have something a little bit unique,” he added.
In addition to the delicious assortment of specialty pizza slices and pies that Porto Fino offers, the restaurant also boasts a full bar and sizable sit-down dining area with lunch and dinner menus.
To start, the Mussels Mandolino ($15.95) features Porto Fino’s signature mussels that are delivered fresh from the Great South Bay on the south shore of Long Island. The aromatics of the basil and fresh seafood get the senses working before you even taste the mussels, baby shrimp and cherry peppers, served in a light cream sauce. The sauce has a kick that provides great flavor, but does not overpower the dish. Every bite is a new combination of textures and flavors that adds depth and complexity.
Under Pizzettes, the Porto Fino ($13.95) is a thin crust pizza with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, plum tomato sauce, baby arugula and truffle oil. The crust has a great crunch that tastes like it was made by pizza makers, but with an elevated presentation. The tangy sauce compliments the prosciutto without making the crust soggy or wilting the arugula.
Entrees include the Chicken Porto Fino ($19.95), one of the restaurant’s bestselling dishes, which is chicken sautéed with artichoke, Portobello mushrooms and sundried tomatoes in a brown Marsala wine and butter sauce. The tender chicken is complimented by an almost creamy Marsala sauce that pairs well with the earthiness of the mushrooms and artichoke.
Lastly, the Seafood Fra Diavolo ($26.95) features a heaping platter of shrimp, mussels, clams, calamari and scallops sautéed in a spicy fra diavolo sauce on top of linguine. The unique assortment of flavors and textures is tied together by the pasta and the spicy sauce to form a cohesive dish that can be enjoyed by an entire table of hungry diners.
Customers can sit down in a casual pizzeria with friends and family and expect to enjoy food cooked to the quality of the best Italian restaurants, and that combination is what makes Vigliotti’s vision successful, he said.