NOT JUST ANY PORT

CON­SIS­TENTLY SOLID ITAL­IAN FARE AND VALUE ARE THE KEYS TO SUC­CESS FOR AL PORTO, AN UNAS­SUM­ING CAFE WITH MIL­LION-DOL­LAR VIEWS

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

Spring sun­shine in the trop­ics calls for: Lunch out­doors, prefer­ably by the sea; some­thing de­li­cious, yet fast enough to al­low a timely re­turn to work; a view of­fer­ing a brief hia­tus from daily toils. Con­ve­nient park­ing and min­i­mal strain on the pocket would be good too.

Al Porto, on the brink of Mar­lin Ma­rina, is just the ticket.

This un­pre­ten­tious water­front eatery has been run by a lo­cal Ital­ian fam­ily for years.

While Al Porto break­fasts have sta­tus with lo­cals, es­pe­cially at week­ends, the throng of vis­i­tors from the ad­join­ing Reef Fleet Ter­mi­nal brings good daily cus­tom.

For us, it’s ex­cel­lent home cook­ing that prompts a re­turn to this sim­ple, clean cafe nes­tled among more chic haunts along the board­walk.

We choose an out­side ta­ble which ben­e­fits from over­head fans and a won­der­ful sea breeze.

It is late morn­ing and skip­ping the break­fast menu (ok, I dally over the pan­cakes with grilled pineapple, cin­na­mon su­gar, cream and maple syrup, but am not se­ri­ous, it’s just win­dow shop­ping), we head straight to the lunch list.

Bar­be­cued prawns and cala­mari with gar­lic, chilli and olives for my com­pan­ion, pump­kin and pine nut risotto for me.

Just like a re­li­able friend, this risotto is a great com­fort, some­thing you can turn to as re­quired in life. It’s al­ways there and de­pend­ably ex­cel­lent.

The prawns and cala­mari come with a fresh mixed salad, lightly dressed, and topped with al­falfa, along­side a bas­ket of chips. (Re­sist­ing the temp­ta­tion to reach across and help my­self, I am told they are good.) The prawns (six, good size) are fresh and cooked cor­rectly, the squid ten­der enough.

Know­ing the risotto is gen­er­ous in size, we

Oin­tend shar­ing this ut­terly in­dul­gent dish – a creamy, cheesy carbfest pep­pered with chunks of firm but well-cooked pump­kin, loads of nutty flavour and topped with fresh basil.

As you’d ex­pect from a de­cent Ital­ian eatery, the cof­fee is good here, so too are the sweets, but you need to con­sciously visit for these, as meals sizes are al­ways hearty.

As it is, we have lunched to sat­is­fac­tion; the vista has worked its magic and we’re happy to re­turn to the grind­stone sated and re­freshed.

If there was one thing I would change at this favourite spot, it would be the back­ground mu­sic (lo­cal ra­dio). Heavy me­tal can be grat­ing in such a peace­ful set­ting, a lit­tle Ital­ian tune (

per­haps?) might be apt.

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