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
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.