Café Portofino is definitely one of Kauai’s top ten restaurants. Specializing in authentic Italian cuisine, this restaurant is not to be missed on a visit to Kauai. Portofino offers alfresco-style dining - ideally located overlooking beautiful Kalapaki Bay, right near the Kauai Marriot Resort and Dukes restaurant. Owner Guiseppe Avocadi offers a warm-hearted, personalized welcome to his guests and is passionate about quality service and excellent Italian cuisine. He was born and raised in Italy, and he says that Kauai reminds him of the Italian Riviera. Certainly dining outside on the large, open lanai, with gorgeous views of the calm Bay, is reminiscent of the Riviera atmosphere.
Inside, the ‘villa’ dining and lounge rooms are furnished with comfortable, romantic candle-lit settings and marble floors. There is a larger indoor dining area catering for parties, weddings, anniversaries, and other significant occasions. Every Thursday through Monday evening a harpist performs romantic classics, which beautifully complements the ambient setting.
As we arrived Guiseppe greeted us with his winning smile and gently ushered us to our table on the terrace. A refreshing Hawaiian breeze relaxed us and we enjoyed the serenity of the bay views as the dusk light met with the rising of a perfect full moon. The staff were attentive and warm, although it did take a little longer than we anticipated to have them take our order.
Once we ordered, our appetizers arrived promptly and we excitedly dove into the basket of fresh breads, accompanied with olive oil and balsamic – the only way to begin an authentic Italian meal. The Mozzarella Caprese was fresh and home made with tomato and basil, drizzled with olive oil. We shared a Gazpacho Soup that was made with fresh, delicious tomatoes and just the right amount of spice. The appetizers were light and just enough to get us going.
The main meal arrived as soon as we were done with our appetizers. The Opakapaka was delectable – sautéed in a wonderfully tangy picatta sauce (lemon, butter, caper and white wine) which delicately flavored the tender, perfectly-cooked fish. The Linguine Alle Vongole – pasta with clams in white sauce – was really good. A little heavy on the salt but the dish was tasty nevertheless. The salad special comprised of fresh spinach leaves, grilled Portobello mushrooms, and sprinkled with blue cheese, pinenuts and a house tarragon dressing. It was delicious and a perfect accompaniment to the pasta and the fish. Our friends who were dining with us ordered the grilled Ono with a generous serving of fresh vegetables, and their Shrimp Risotto looked very tasty. Their total silent immersion in the pleasure of their meal indicated how good it was!
Café Portofino’s menu features a lot of fabulous seafood dishes, but their ‘from the grill’ selections are definitely worth considering also. On previous occasions we have thoroughly enjoyed the Rib Eye and the New Zealand Rack of Lamb.
There are also a variety of specialty pastas and veal, including Fettuccini Alfredo, veal Osso Bucco, and Bistecca di Vitellone, all enhanced by home made Italian sauces with. Portofino's fresh Marinara sauce is loved by locals. Home made Gelato and fruit sorbets are prepared daily. There is a cappuccino and espresso bar, and an enticing dessert menu. The wine list is extensive and well-selected.
The locally owned and operated Portofino offers the ideal setting for an intimate dinner with your beloved, or a social gathering with friends, family and associates. Their sumptuous menu caters for many tastes and is definitely one of the better Italian restaurants on the island. It always surprises us that it is never as busy as some of the other nearby restaurants, but perhaps the fact that it is a place more loved by locals than tourists is part of its charm.
Open Nightly 5.00pm - 9.30pm Phone (808) 245-2121