Having taken two sets of visiting omnis there now, I can confidently say Portobello, while totally vegan, is just good Italian food period. The chef (2010 Vegan Iron Chef competitor Aaron Adams), pastry chef, and bartender all have my deepest thanks (and a lot of my money now) for providing amazing food in a gorgeous location that I can take anyone to and not worry about whether they’ll like it.
Since they only take reservations for groups of six or more, the wait can be waity, but it’s worth it. Or you can be a smartypants and show up right when they open. One reason I love them is that even though the tables are packed, they don’t push you out. You leave when you’re ready. Now, if you’re an a-hole, you could sit and chat after the coffee and dessert dishes are cleared, but none of us are a-holes, are we?
Chances are your food won’t look exactly like mine, as they change the menu constantly. Instead of an apple tart, they may have apricot. Whatever, just order it. It’s all good.
Artichoke-tomato crostini, albeit a crappy photo. I’ve also had a corona bean-artichoke version. If you’re in a group of four this one will disappear super fast…but that’s all right because you’ve got to save some room for dessert.
Little T Slab with fleur de sel and olive oil. It’s a super simple and cheap way to stop your tummy from grumbling once you score yourself a table. And when it tastes this good you can’t consider it “filling up on bread.”
Red pepper linguine with zucchini, corona beans, olive oil, and fried garlic. It’s no secret that I don’t care so much for most beans, but these are so good. When I got home after my first visit (I’ve had three different versions of the corona bean pasta so far), I jumped online to research corona beans. They’re fleshy and hold their body instead of getting mushy. The light flavor works so perfectly in a delicate sauce like this. Note: Get the half portion. I have yet to attempt a full portion but I can’t even imagine—remember, you’re saving room for dessert.
Pizza with sausage, fennel-tomato sauce, Daiya cheese, spicy cherry peppers. Tom orders this every freakin’ time we’re there. And when we’ve ordered pizza to go. He’s simply a fool for fennel, and the crust is fabulously chewy. I can’t go for the fakey sausage, but the straight-up Daiya one is tops.
Strawberry cheesecake with a shortbread crust and strawberry sauce. Anyone who claims vegan cheesecake can’t be as rich and creamy as the dairy version should be made to eat this then just try to repeat this claim without crossing their fingers. Can’t be done. I’ve also had the blueberry cheesecake—and it was good—but this one is perfect.
The Harper. This has to be enjoyed all by itself. Don’t try sipping along with your meal; you’ll only waste it. It’s black pepper-ginger vodka, strawberry puree, ginger, and prosecco. The flavor is so complex that you can’t even talk after your first sip. It keeps your mouth busy, picking out the layers of awesome, and your mouth has a nice, peppery buzz before your head does. Gorgeous. Oh, and $1 is donated to the SHAC7. (Look it up, fool.)