Olive Oil Soaked Focaccia
Caprese Salad – Heirloom Tomatoes, Bufala Mozzarella, Basil
Meatballs –Goat Cheese, San Marzano Tomatoes
Crab Cake Arancini – Lemon Saffron Risotto, Pesto Aioli, Fresno Pickles
Grilled Octopus – Calabrian Peperonata, Fingerling Crisps, Salsa Verde
Split Pea Tortellini – Iberico Pork, Vegetables, Smoked Chicken Broth
Ripatelli – Housemade Italian Sausage and Peppers, Broccolini, Pesto Essence
Gnocchi – Arugula, Forest Mushrooms, Black Truffle
Burrata Agnolotti – Lobster, Chanterelle Mushroom, Roasted Corn Butter
Chicken Foie-Fredo – Hand-cut Fettucine, Herb Roasted Chicken, Chicken Cracklins’, Foie Gras Alfredo
Veal Osso Bucco – Saffron Risotto, Bone Marrow, Gremolata
Dayboat Scallops – Grilled Corn, Pancetta, Roasted Peppers, Crimini Mushrooms, Potato Puree
Aragosta Milanese – Breaded Lobster Tail, Rapini, “Mother Butter”
Nutella Crème Brulee – Shortbread, Crystalized Sugar
Traditional Tiramisu – Cognac Crème, Lady Fingers
Chocolate Cake – Fudge, Vanilla Ice Cream
Gelato – Strawberry Cheesecake, Double Chocolate, Vanilla Milkshake
Set to shutter at the end of 2017, a situation created by the combination of a lousy location and MGM’s abysmal Public Relations department, it was alongside two visitors that a final visit was paid to Portofino Ristorante, Chef Michael LaPlaca and General Manager Chris Zadie only intermittently present at this time as they prepare to open Osteria Costa in the first quarter of 2018.
Another well-known favorite and frequent dining destination with guests, a seventh dinner in April with family seeing Chef LaPlaca’s name unfortunately dropped from the marquee despite his single-handed revitalization of the cuisine beginning at the end of 2013, it was just minutes before 7:00pm that a comfortable table was occupied on the former Onda lower-floor, familiar servers presenting menus and beverages including Iced Tea and Cocktails.
Largely an unchanged menu from eight months prior, the impending closure creating little impetus for innovation when several signatures were already in place and ready to please, it was in four-course format that Dinner was served over the course of two-hours, the spicy charred Octopus, filler-free Crab Cake and Caprese Salad just as good as in the past while Meatballs were served individually instead of family-style as they have been in the past.
Surrounded by lines of cursive as a soundtrack of Italian classics played overhead, The Mirage never having even bothered to update the décor as Chef LaPlaca’s Food and Mr. Zadie’s front of house gathered accolades, it was with fresh Focaccia served that five bowls of Pasta were presented, the plating not quite as precise as in the past though flavors and textures were still excellent ranging from Michael’s signature Ripatelli to the Burrata Agnolotti and an all-new Gnocchi preparation featuring feather-light Arugula Dumplings anchored by Mushrooms and Black Truffles.
Taking it easy on Secondi, others present at the table still feeling the effects of Brunch and hearty portions of Pasta, it was with a tasting-size portion of three Scallops on the side that Portofino’s Osso Bucco and “secret menu” Lobster Milanese arrived, the fork-tender Shank hopefully not making its final appearance as Osteria Costa has been suggested to embrace a lighter Mediterranean style while there’s little doubt the fried Crustacean will be made available just as it has been since the days of Kokomo’s.
Rounding out the evening with four familiar Desserts, The Mirage once again handicapping Portofino for years by never hiring a Pastry Chef and thus 86ing items such as Cassata Cake as well as Cookie Souffles, it was with reminiscent fondness that Nutella Brulee, Chocolate Cake and Gelato were enjoyed one last time while hoping LaPlaca and Zadie’s next project is given the sort of backing it deserves, though bittersweet news was temporarily provided that most of Portofino’s familiar faces will be moving over while the outsourced Tiramisu will still be available at Peridot Sweets by Chef Tiffany Jones.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Yet another shutter in a year that saw many nationwide, the ever-changing hospitality industry magnified by a city where it has always been easier to blow something up and rebuild rather than make it work, Portofino will fondly be remembered as a special place to those who dined there and as long as Mr. Zadie and Chef LaPlaca are involved it seems safe to mark Osteria Costa as one of 2018’s most anticipated debuts.
RECOMMENDED: The Arancini, Agnolotti, Gnocchi, Foie-fredo, Osso Bucco and Lobster were always excellent.
TIP: Osteria Costa will reportedly take over the former Samba Brazilian Steakhouse in q1 2018.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.