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Jan 29, 2008 10:21 AM

Portofino in Tinton Falls?

Has anyone eaten here? I saw Andrea Clurfield had it on her Valentine's Day list, but I wanted to know how the food is? (Not for Valentine's Day


Thanks so much!

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  1. After overlooking it for years (living nearby), my husband and I dined there almost a year ago during the storm that knocked our (and a lot of other's) power out for several days. It was one of the few local restaurants that had power. It was after work and we were tired to cook by candlelight. So happy to see lights and imagine heat.

    Because of the storm, the place had an air of comradery. It was nearly full to capacity, a lot of regulars. It was one of those places where the chef would simply serve a table what he felt would comfort/impress. I remember being envious.

    We both ordered Italian wine by the glass, salad, and fish specials. We loved every bite. No leftovers, very rare for me. I don't know why we haven't been back. Maybe it was the sticker shock over the price of a "let's grab a bite on the way home" meal.

    Oh, I also remember wishing I ordered the branzino special every time I saw it go by.

    3 Replies
    1. re: fershore

      Thanks so much fershore!!! I love the pic of the cat!!! So, I should go to the place???

      1. re: Angelina

        Angelina,'s a mafia hangout...i've been there three times when not crowded (lunchtime and early evening) and the wait/kitchen staff have stared my husband and I down like we're casing the joint. Portions are miniscule and pricy...go to the Molly Pitcher in Red Bank for a lovely lunch...if you don't feel dressy, eat in the pub and have fun...the bar menu is perfect and the atmosphere makes you feel like you're on vacation. For a sensational meal in Monmouth County, Moonstruck is the only place to go...yeah, the owners are pompous, but don't let them bother you...they are always nice and very pleasant to me...the wait staff can be a bit over the top, but they are also sweet enough.

        1. re: Angelina

          Thanks. Tavish (the cat) keeps us smiling.

          I don't know how to answer you because jerseygurl is not exactly wrong about the atmosphere. We happened to have a great night there. Our server that night turned out to be an acquaintance. He's a caterer and used to work at Mumford's. I was shocked to find him moonlighting there. He insisted that the chef at Portofino was excellent.

          If it's convenient for you, I'd give it a shot. Take one for the team, so to speak.

          Regarding the stare down, I encountered it at Portofino that night and recently at Jimmy's in Asbury Park. Even from the customers at Jimmy's! But I smiled like I owned the place and there was no attitude on either occasion. It's what you bring to the experience.

      2. Food is great but is not a place for romance but good for a quality dinner, limited atmosphere for conversation, little 2 open.

        1. Figured I'd add my 2 cents to this thread, since I've been here. (Sorry to resurrect a somewhat old thread, but it's better than starting an entirely new one, I suppose!)

          I went to Portofino around December of 07 / Jan 08, because a few of my (admitidly yuppier) friends couldn't stop talking about the place. The very first thing I noticed was the outregious prices they were charging for some things. But, I was trying to make this a nice night for me and the SO, so I gathered my jaw up from the floor, and bit the bullet.

          The pre-meal / wine:
          After forking over a bit more than I would have preferred, I ordered a few glasses of wine to accompany our meal, along with a few of their house salads. Now, maybe I'm not 'classy' enough, or maybe my tastes are different than most, but I found the salads to be horrible, especially considering the price paid for them. The greenery that came in the salad was akin to some of the weeds I pull out of my garden (which isn't too bad, I understand this is a fancy place). The issue I had with the salad was the fact that their balsamic dressing was "sparse" on the plate, for lack of a better word. It was as if someone dipped a spoon into a jar of dressing, and "spattered" it onto the plate. If I got more than a 1/4 tsp of dressing, I'd be shocked. This left the salad tasting incredibly bitter, due to all the non-lettuce greenery that was on the salad. The wine wasn't too bad, though I was still reeling from the sticker shock.

          The dinner / dessert / service / etc:
          The service started off well enough, but after the main course came, the waitress was nowhere to be seen. The second thing I noticed about this place, was the portion size. Considering what I paid, I expected my Veal Pizzaiaola to come with a side of pasta, to say the least. Two thinly sliced pieces of meat with a VERY light covering of sauce, left both of us hungry after the meal. (We ordered the same thing) The veal was "warm", at best, leaving me to believe that the waitress either forgot about it, or the kitchen was in a hurry.

          At this point, I was already fairly turned-off of the place, and decided to give them one last chance to redeem themselves, praying for an astonishing dessert. I ordered a tiramisu, and she ordered an Italian Cheesecake slice. Both desserts were tasty, but nothing to really write home about (especially considering the cost). The coffee had grounds in the bottom of the cup, as well.

          Maybe I came on a bad day, or maybe this is the 'norm' for this place.. but I doubt I'll be back. For the absurd prices they charge, we both left feeling hungry and unimpressed. I'd much rather go to a place like Tuscany or La Strada, which is a much better bargain for the same (or better) quality food. Oh well, can't win them all!

          2 Replies
          1. re: zerohour3k

            The last time I was there was like a dozen years ago (I'm a 10 minute walk from there). I went once for lunch with some work colleagues, and then again for a dinner. Prices even then were steep and portions were very small. Have not been back since...

            1. re: equal_Mark

              Could not agree with you more...

              Short Story - my wife and I went to this Italian restaurant in North Brunswick in the 1980's owned by none other that Sal the same owner of Portifino in Tinton Falls. We must have went there a hundred times over the years and the guy never introduced himself or even said hello to us.

              Sal caters to the rich and famous in Colts Neck and specializes in high mark ups for small quantities of food. His mark up on wine is even worse. The last time we went there he sat one of his cigar smoking friends right next to us. We wanted to walk out of the place but did not. We did not go back again...end of storry.

          2. Can this be placed on NJ board? Someone had a recent question on it. Thank you!