Mr. Lucio Zanon, his wife Elaine, and their son Sebastiano had a dream. The Venetian-born Lucio worked for over 20 years at the iconic Harry’s Bar in Venice and later travelled the world to grow the Cipriani brand. It eventually led him to Miami where he worked for Zucca and Casa Tua, all the while honing his hospitality and managerial skills. Now he brings all his excellent experience to his own restaurant along with many of the staff and chefs that have followed him here. Though the timing could have been better. Lucio opened his doors on March 12, 2020, and had to close them the next day due to the pandemic. But, he started a delivery service and the neighborhood soon found out how exceptional his kitchen was, and he developed a following. Fast forward to a year later and Portosole Restaurant has become a favourite for many patrons.
Part of this reason is because of the immense hospitality and consummate professionalism as well as everyone who works at this establishment. From the moment you step inside this historic 1920’s building, you are made to feel like a welcome and honored guest.
You can see this is an upscale eatery, with white tablecloths, dim lighting, fresh flowers on each table, beautiful dishes, proper wine glasses, and stemware. The captains and managers all wear suits and ties, the servers wear white shirts, dark pants, ties, and aprons.
The brick walls are painted white, the grey chairs are attractive and comfortable and there are mirrors on the walls to make space appear larger. Accordion glass doors lead into a small patio, but inside tables are well spread out and socially distanced. There is a fully stocked bar with premium choices.
The restaurant prides itself in using the freshest ingredients, especially when it comes to imported products from Italy. Many dishes are prepared table-side and there is an emphasis on coastal Italian cuisine and seafood.
I enjoyed my meal thoroughly and could only find fault with the heirloom tomatoes that accompanied the burrata. They were hard and tasteless. This dish is probably best to order when tomatoes are in season. But the prosciutto di Parma was appealing, and the homemade breads and breadsticks were excellent.
The menu reads beautifully and it was difficult to make a choice. The cacio pepe with pecorino, Parmesan, and black pepper is prepared tableside and tossed in a large Parmesan wheel. The veal Milanese was a sight to behold. The largest I’ve ever seen and could easily feed up to 3 people.
Desserts were also dreamy. From an excellent tiramisu to an impressive table-side preparation of panna cotta, with flambéd fruitti di bosco.
The mostly Italian forward wine list was well-curated. Apparently, Mr. Zanon travels to Italy at least twice a year to research wines and discover new culinary trends. There are also classic and craft cocktails as well. There is a lovely glassed-in wine room where you can see the wines on display.
Portosole may not have a “scene”, but what it does have is luxury, charm, attention to detail, and inspiring, authentic Italian food.