Porto Vivo restaurant, in huntington, is one of long island's best kept culinary secrets... This stunning restaurant is owned by Joy Mangano, one of america's most successful women inventors/entrepreneurs. Aside from its beauty and sophistication, the restaurant features the culinary genius of Executive Chef Joe Balbo.
Approximately 8 years ago, I first met Joe Balbo while dining in Babylon. At that time Joe was 21 years old and a creative and dynamic force as a manager and chef. Aside from his epicurean menu, Joe had assembled a young, highly professional staff who loved working for him. Flash forward to this past week, when I once again met with Joe at Porto Vivo, the ideal showcase for his many faceted talents.
Porto Vivo is an exciting restaurant with a unique charm and sophistication not often found on Long Island. The restaurant has 3 distinct serving areas on three separate levels. The main dining room on the first level is spacious, handsome and elegant; the second level has a large circular bar and a small mini stage for live music. The third level offers comfortable seating and banquets in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. Porto Vivo offers their regular menu, comfort food, tapas, and tasting menus on all three levels.
We visited Porto Vivo anticipating an exciting dining adventure and were thrilled at the tasting menu we were served. Joe's genius is his ability to create unique flavor combinations that produce taste sensations that are memorable.
The restaurant has their menus on i pads so that diners can see exactly what they are ordering. It made it easy to understand our tasting menu.
Joe sent over an Amuse (Chef's gift) of "Beer and Clams" - A single littleneck clam made in beer,. topped with peroni sorbetto with a hot sauce spuma- A truly amazing taste combination with sorbet giving a sweet edge to the juice and meat of the clam.
Our first course was a home made Burrata combined with grilled watermelon, heirloom tomatoes, and scented with hickory smoke. The burrata was white, creamy and delicious with the wonderfully refreshing taste of grilled watermelon and the sweetness of heirloom tomatoes.
Next on Joe's hit parade was an Octopus Crostini- A generous portion of octopus meat on a fresh crusty crostini prepared with sherry vinegar, lemon and basil. Although I had never been a big fan of octopus or squid, this dish made me a convert
Our 3rd tasting course was Olive Poached Halibut- a beautifully prepared halibut made with black truffle emulsion, asian pear and crispy broccoli rabe. A seafood lover's dream- topped with the sweetness of asian pear and the crispiness of brocolli rabe at its very best
A duo of Pasta was our next course- A combination of cavetelli with rabbit ragu acompanied by braised shortrib manicotti. delicious, hearty, and beautifully plated.
We were served Porchetta- Butternut Squash Puree-Brussel Sprouts with Italian Honey and Peanuts, with roasted mushroom and summer peach demi. A dish that takes almost 8 hours to prepare .Spectacular! and worth every hour of preparation.
I am a devotee of gourmet onion soups and I could not resist sampling Joe's Tuscan Onion Soup. This dish takes hours of preparation and comes to the table looking like a fried dumpling. It is made of homemade onion soup combined with risotto and rolled into dumpling and then cooked. Absolutely out of this world!
At the end of our meal, Joe sent over a tray of homemade italian pastries and homemade gelato in 3 wondrous flavors. This was topped off with Iced Cappucino, and tea.
Highly recommended for those who appreciate the very best in cuisine and atmosphere...Not to be missed!
Kudos to Joe Balbo, an executive chef extraordinaire, and his staff. Its hard to beat a combination of a beautiful restaurant, laid back sophisticated ambiance, fantastic food, and a caring and knowledgeable wait staff.