Touring Downtown Disney can be a hit or miss experience for food lovers. Some locations offer the same tired food options you can get anywhere, some have that chain experience, while others attempt to break free from the mold and offer something unique and new. Portobello falls into that last category.
Situated right on the water by the big sternwheeler restaurant you’ll find a world class eatery specializing in locally sourced offerings, Italian flavors, and friendly service. As of this week you can add Organic Beer and trendy bar food to that list.
The Meatball Bar, conceptualized by Portobello’s Executive Chef Steven Richard and Portobello’s Consulting Chef, (and recent Top Chef Master’s contestant), Tony Mantuano, pays homage to the classic Italian dish, offering four varieties of meatball. The menu showcases Beef & Veal with Parsley ($1.95), Spicy Pork ($1.95), Chicken with Sage ($1.95) and Salmon with Tarragon ($2.95). Each slider is served on a soft mini bread roll, topped with tomato basil sauce and freshly grated Parmigianino cheese.
The new Meatball Sliders Bar provides another option for those who are looking for something fun and flavorful. You can choose from four different types of meatballs and three different organic beers. The beer comes from Orlando Brewery a USDA certified organic brewery. A pint is just $5.95, which means for $11 you can enjoy a high quality light dinner or lunch. One of the best values on property if you ask me.
Also new is a new dessert option they’re calling ‘Beeramisu’. They’ve mixed in some of the Orlando Brewery Blackwater Dry Porter, which has wonderful chocolate overtones, to the marscapone cheese of their Tiramisu dessert. I loved the beer taste, which wasn’t overwhelming, but added to the flavors and without distracting from the texture. Everyone at my table asked for seconds.
Portobello’s Executive Chef Tony Mantuano, whom fans of Top Chef Masters will recognize, says they worked hard to make this an alternative to the ‘Same’. They definitely succeeded.
Join me below the cut for my tasting notes:
Orlando Brewery selection:
Olde Pelican – Organic English Style Pale Ale
This pale ale resides on the stronger end of the spectrum. While the hops aroma is in balance, the malt flavors of caramel and butterscotch are strong. Still I would order it again with a fish or poultry dish.
European Pilz – Organic German-Style Pilsener
This was definitely stronger than your average German Pilsener. But that’s a good thing in my book. The strong hops presence really comes through. A good transition beer for those used to drinking American Pilsners like Budweiser or Miller.
Blackwater Dry Porter – Organic American Brown Porter
Dark beers are my favorite and this option was no exception. Right in the middle of the porter spectrum, the dryness helped bring the chocolate and roasted notes right to the front of this selection.
Beef & Veal with Parsley ($1.95) – A rich take on the classic meatball.
Spicy Pork ($1.95) – A popular choice at my table. Almost like a sausage meatball.
Chicken with Sage ($1.95) – The lighter of the four sliders. The sage flavor really shines, but doesn’t overpower the chicken. The basil sauce works well with the flavor profile too.
Salmon with Tarragon ($2.95 ) – My favorite of the four, although if you’re not a fan of salmon, you should skip it. Similar in texture to a crab cake, the slider combined fresh and smoked salmon with the tarragon to great an almost hash slider. (It would be perfect for breakfast). I didn’t think the the basil tomato sauce would go well with the salmon, but it was a surprisingly good partner with the tarragon flavor.
Bonus test: Eggplant fries. I really enjoyed these appetizers. Lightly breaded and deep fried, these were a hit with the bar crowd. They had their own flavor, but reminded me at times of calamari or onion rings. I would actually choose these over potato fries if offered.
Portobello is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and accepts all major credit cards. Portobello is owned and operated by Levy Restaurants®. For more information or to make reservations, please call (407) 934-8888 or visit www.portobellorestaurant.com.