The midst of another wintery Melbourne night, I present to you a Spanish dining experience that I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time. The first time I came here on a Friday night at 6pm, I was turned away because we didn’t have a booking and would have to wait until 8:45pm before there would be any tables available. In my second attempt to come here, I tried to making a booking for six but was yet again unable to find a time there wasn’t going to be after 8:00pm. Finally learning my lesson, I decided to book a Thursday night in advance for two people at 6:30pm and lo and behold we were finally able to dine at a reasonable hour. My expectations of this place at this point was set very high. If I was having this much trouble just to eat at Portello Rosso, I expected it to be good.

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Upon entering the restaurant we were greeted by one of the staff and directed to our seats. A small little table just to the left by the stairs. A smaller establishment than I had initially imagined, I was beginning to see why the place was so easily booked out.

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Not wasting another moment, my friend and I scoured the menu and got onto ordering a number of small dishes to share.

2014-08-07 Portello Rosso (4)Croqueta $5.50 each
Mushroom & blue cheese croqueta served with house made cardamon relish

In retrospect, the croqueta was the highlight dish of the night followed by the Paella. The croqueta was crispy, creamy and smooth.

2014-08-07 Portello Rosso (5)Barbequed sweetcorn & zucchini fritters with mint & garlic yoghurt $5.50 each

My impression of this dish was that we’d actually be swerved barbequed sweetcorn, and zucchini fritters i.e. corn and fritters, two entirely separate and different things. When these two little crispy morsels arrived, initially I wasn’t sure if we’d be given the right plate, until it dawned on me what it was we actually ordered if you looked at it from a different angle. The barbequed sweet corn was a little dry around the edges, but otherwise still quite nice.

2014-08-07 Portello Rosso (6a)Ensalada Mixta $15.50
Mixed leaf salad with caramelised onion, roasted pumpkin & sweet potato chips with orange dressing

I needed some salad to balance out the fried items and again what I had in mind for this salad was not quite what I received. In particular, I had envision sweet potato chips to be well rather different. As you can see in the salad, it was more like sweet potato crisps. Not that it tasted bad, but yet again I found myself with something I didn’t quite have in mind. Setting expectations aside, the salad itself was very nice, the roasted pumpkins and pine nuts really give it that nice hit.

2014-08-07 Portello Rosso (7)Empanada de Wagyu $8.50 each

Like a little beef pastie, the empanada was soft, crispy and delicious all at the same time.

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2014-08-07 Portello Rosso (8d)Paella de Veduras $22pp

This was the main star of the dinner, the dish I was looking forward to the most all night. Portello Rosso’s paella does not disappoint in their generosity with the seasonal vegetables. Often or not vegetables tend to be skimped on, but not in this case. You can see from the pictures that the paella pan was just filled to the brim with seasonal goodness, and it did not disappoint one bit in taste. The seasoning of the rice just falls slightly from Remy Bar de Tapas y Vino’s vegetarian Paella, but it certainly trumps it in every other aspect.

2014-08-07 Portello Rosso (9)Tarta de Cereza Y Chocolate $14.00
Callebaut Chocolate Cherry Tart served with Sour Cherry & Pistachio Ice cream

2014-08-07 Portello Rosso (10)Trifle de Frambuesas $14.50
Five layered raspberry trifle with sangria granita & mint glass

Desserts though sounded appealing were in general okay. The trifle was a little too airy fairy, while the chocolate cherry tart was denser and with a tougher pastry than I had expected. Both still very nice, but just didn’t quite hit the spot either of us and we were left finishing the dinner a little flat.

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At this point of the night, it was time for use to head off.When the bill came we were charged an extra $2 more for each of the desserts. As I pointed this out to our embarrassed waitress, she corrected the error but forgot to check the other dessert and so we ended up paying the extra $2 for one of the desserts anyway. Considering that the bill did reach over $100, $2 isn’t very much in the grand scheme of things, so we just let it go as our tip for the night.

Some highlights and some flat point, Portello Rosso does serve well and provides an extensive enough menu to suit all tastes. Although it was nice dining here, I can’t say very much else about the food, as all has already been said.

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