Porto Vivo Dazzles

By Arielle & Daniel

foodies@longislandergroup.com


 Chef Joseph Balbo and Manager Ben Laiacona of Porto Vivo in Huntington.

Chef Joseph Balbo and Manager Ben Laiacona of Porto Vivo in Huntington.

The distinctive characteristics of Huntington’s Porto Vivo are the details of its atmosphere.

Menus come on iPads in leather-like cases, save for the paper list of specials. Just past the door hang futuristic lighting fixtures, the candlestick-like lights framed by a cage of metal rectangles. The sinks – in the women's bathroom, at least – are surrounded by glittering stone seas colored topaz and beige.

Porto Vivo opened in 2009, when a Gerard Street antiques warehouse became a multilevel restaurant. Its creator, Joy Mangano, is also the inventor creator of a dynasty of handy Home Shopping Network products, including “Huggable Hangers.”

The Porto Vivo menu features typical Italian pizzettes and pastas, as well as a slew of complex options.

A foil to a list of pasta dishes rich and heavy with cream, the Ahi Tuna Tartare "B.L.T." appetizer ($13) is fresh and lemony, a result of the presence of East Asian citrus fruit Yuzu. A cube striped green – the avocado puree – and pink – the raw tuna and diced tomato – is textured by shredded Romaine lettuce and well-done pancetta.

The Crispy Gnocchi ($15), served in a lobster Bolognese, is made in-house with ricotta cheese. Less doughy than the traditional gnocchi, the appetizer holds true to the “crispy” in its name.

 The Crispy Gnocci, in lobster Bolognese, earns its name – it is less doughy and crispier than the traditional gnocchi.

The Crispy Gnocci, in lobster Bolognese, earns its name – it is less doughy and crispier than the traditional gnocchi.

The Buffalo Mozzarella Tortelloni ($22), served in a shallow pool of truffle crema, dotted with peas, sprinkled with parmesan shavings and garnished with pancetta, is soft and creamy. Each piece is a cheese-filled pillow. The cheese, made of the milk of water buffalo, is moist, more fluid than may be expected.

 Each piece of the Buffalo Mozzarella Tortelloni is like a cheese-filled pillow. 

Each piece of the Buffalo Mozzarella Tortelloni is like a cheese-filled pillow. 

The Pan Seared Salmon ($27) looks like a scene from the depths of a forest. A piece of pink fish is surrounded by greens and pancetta, bordered on one side by crispy olive oil-poached fingerling potatoes and on the opposite side by a smear of purple mustard.

 The Pan Seared Salmon is a work of art.

The Pan Seared Salmon is a work of art.

The Lobster Raviolo ($26) is a dish that combines sheep's milk ricotta, smoked mozzarella, egg yolk, asparagus and shaved black truffles. The circumference of each piece is the size of a standard drinking glass. When one takes fork or knife to pasta piece, slicing into its center, the egg yolk pours onto the plate.

 When one takes fork or knife to a piece of the Lobster Raviolo, slicing into its center, the egg yolk pours itself onto the plate.

When one takes fork or knife to a piece of the Lobster Raviolo, slicing into its center, the egg yolk pours itself onto the plate.

Porto Vivo's Chocolate Soufflé ($13), which requires 30 minutes of prep time, is everything that a dessert 30 minutes in the making should be. Warm and moist at its core, the soufflé is well worth the caloric intake.

 The Porto Vivo Chocolate Souffle is rich and delicious.

The Porto Vivo Chocolate Souffle is rich and delicious.

The Creme Brûlée ($9), served in a different flavor each day, was vanilla last Friday night. With a thicker consistency than the typical creme brûlée, like a sort of stiff pudding, and a vaguely minty aftertaste, the dessert is not quite traditional.

Also erring on the side of the untraditional is the Tiramisu ($10). A narrow rectangular dish serves as the backdrop for three circular displays: a tiny cup of coffee, a pile of strawberries underneath a whipped cream cap and a raspberry drizzle, and a glass of Mascarpone and cake that wears a crisscrossed Lady Finger garnish.

  Tiramisu at Porto Vivo does not quite look like the traditional version of the dessert.

Tiramisu at Porto Vivo does not quite look like the traditional version of the dessert.

Even when dessert is over, the restaurant is vibrant with live music coming from the mid-level bar, and an environment heavy with dark wood is illuminated by glowing yellow light.


Porto Vivo

7 Gerard Street, Huntington

631-385-8486

Atmosphere: Upscale but cozy

Cuisine: Italian

Price: Moderate/high

Hours: Monday: closed; Tuesday-Thursday: 4:30-10 p.m.; Friday: 4:30-11 p.m.; Saturday: 2:30-11 p.m.; and Sunday: 2:30-9 p.m.