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Dining Out:

A blend of Italian and Mediterranean

February 16, 2008|By Joanna Linkchorst

One of the newest restaurants in Montrose, Portobello’s takes the space once occupied by Havana Beach. The new owners removed the booths and redecorated sparingly with dark wood tables, stone-tile floors and posters of turn-of-the-last-century Italian liquor ads framed on the mustard-hued walls.

In spite of paper place mats, it is a more formal restaurant. Pizzas ($8 to 10), like the pizza alla Siciliana, can have roasted eggplant, baked ricotta and garlic, and are topped with mozzarella basil sauce. Pasta dishes come with chicken, sausage or beef ragu, or the spaghetti ala Vongolle ($15) has clams and muscles in a wine sauce.

Main courses are one place you will find the more Mediterranean influences like chicken or beef kebabs ($14), which our friendly waitress considered the specialties of the house, the meat being very tender.

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The lunch menu has cold sandwiches ($7.95) like a curry chicken salad sandwich with celery, apple, raisin and walnuts in a Dijon curry spread, or the vegetarian wrap with grilled vegetables, feta cheese and ramoulade spread.

The hot sandwich I tried was the grilled Portobello mushroom Pannini ($8.95) with eggplant, tomato, goat cheese and a lovely pesto spread. It was a crunchy and nicely flavored sandwich. It came with a “petit salad” with the house dressing, a light vinaigrette with beets for a sweet flavor and red color.

Lunch also has entree salads like a Belgian endive apple ($8.95) or the Mediterranean combo taste ($8.25) with hummus, babaganoush, dolmas and tabouleh.

The dinner menu removes the sandwiches and salads and adds a few categories. Antipasti lists fried calamari ($8) and mozzarella al balsamico ($7), buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil with a balsamic vinaigrette. Mediterranean appetizers include Spanakopita ($6) spinach and feta cheese in a philo baked pie, hummus, babaganoush, tabouleh and dolmas at $5 to $6, or a combo of the four for $9.

There is a small wine list, and several bottled beers are offered.

We were served slices of a light Italian bread with butter and chimmichuri sauce, parsley, garlic, lemon and a little hot pepper in olive oil. The tasty iced tea is tropical, the coffee strong enough to need cream but not bitter enough to need sugar. The French onion soup was bold but not biting, has lots of cheese and has croutons instead of bread.

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