Al Porto Ristorante is located on the edge of Gastown very close to the steam clock. According to the address, I found the entrance at the end of a long corridor in a heritage building. But a notice was taped to the glass doors that customers were to enter through the side door beside the building.
The side door in the alley led to a short flight of stairs that brought us into the spacious yet cozy restaurant.
The decor conveyed a sense of intimacy and warmth with the wooden beamed ceiling, brick pillars and earthy tones.
The meal kicked off with a large bread basket. The bread was my favourite kind — nice and crusty with a soft interior.
The veal saltimbocca ($20.95) was a good alternative to pasta. Tender veal meat was wrapped in soft and savoury prosciutto and cooked with sage in a white wine demi-glace sauce. The different flavours and textures of the meats blended together really well.
The linguine pescatore ($17.95) was a seafood pasta with prawns, mussels, clams, scallops, salmon and halibut cooked in tomato sauce. I liked the variety of seafood and the tomato sauce was very appetizing.
The linguine vongole ($15.95) was a more boring option with just clams and cheese as toppings. The sauce of white wine, broth and butter was quite rich, but I found it not as satisfying as a tart and savoury tomato sauce.
The dessert platter offered a choice of any 3 desserts on the menu for $15.95. I opted for tiramisu, traditional creme brulee, and a chocolate ganache torte. The presentation was pleasing and all of the desserts were quite good apart from the stale biscotti in the creme brulee.
Because the ambiance is quite romantic and elegant, Al Porto is a nice choice for a date or a business event. Apart from the food, I also found the service to be quite impressive during my visit. I would recommend this restaurant as a good and reasonably priced fine dining venue.