The building in which Il Porto is housed, on the corner of Lee and King Streets right in the heart of Old Town, has an interesting history. First it was built and owned by a sea captain. Then it was a brothel (!). Then it was a shop that sold family treasures—and was home to a secret distillery. Next came a butcher shop, before it became a place of solitude for a German painter during WWI. The 1920s saw a speakeasy under its roof, and during the 40s, it was home to a Nazi family’s radio network—disguised as a repair shop.
For the last 40 years, it has been home to authentic northern Italian food served with a smile and healthy amounts of chianti. A couple should request a quiet table upstairs under the windows overlooking King Street. The Pollo con Pepperoni comes with three huge chicken breasts pounded out thin in a sauce, with peppers and pepperoni. A heaping plate of fettuccini Alfredo will take you immediately to the back alleys of Rome (whole wheat pasta is available if you’re feeling slightly less sinful). The frutti di mare is a festival of shellfish in a light, airy white wine garlic sauce. Make sure to save room for dessert, as both the tiramisu and the cannoli shine (as does the spumoni, as does the pistachio ice cream, as does, well everything). The house chianti is good and dry and extremely reasonably priced for a glass of wine in Old Town. On your way out, make sure and say hello to Manfreddy—he helped me plan my wedding rehearsal dinner there.