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Sue Holland

Restaurant Review

Portobello Yacht Club

Friday, October 22, 2004
Text and photos by Sue Holland, staff writer


Photo by Sue Holland.

Just because a restaurant is located on Walt Disney World property, does not mean that eatery is owned or managed by Disney. A prime example is the Portobello Yacht Club restaurant located between the Marketplace and Pleasure Island in Downtown Disney.

Opened in 1989, this is one of several eateries owned and operated by Levy Restaurants. In business for 25 years, Levy Restaurants are generally all upscale dining experiences in major cities throughout the United States. Walt Disney World is home to three of their restaurants—Fulton's Crab House, Wolfgang Puck Café, and Portobello Yacht Club.

Portobello Yacht Club features delicious Italian cuisine in an elegant but comfortable setting. Diners wearing theme park attire will not feel out of place here, while at the same time those who choose to dress up a bit will also fit right in. The restaurant is easy to find, using the large riverboat of Fulton's Crab House as a landmark, Portobello is just to your left when facing the entrance to Fulton's.


Portobello Yacht Club entrance. Photo by Sue Holland.

Lunch is served daily from 11:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., and dinner is served from 4:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. Priority seatings can be obtained by calling (407) 984-8888 up to 30 days in advance. Crowds are generally light enough at lunch that a priority seating is not necessary, but larger parties or those traveling during a peak season would still be advised to make those plans in advance. Dinner can be quite busy, and it is possible a table will not be available or require a very long wait if a priority seating is not booked ahead of time.


Portobello Yacht Club interior. Photo by Sue Holland.

The inside dining room is bright and attractive, with simple furniture and liberal use of white table linens. Fresh flowers adorn each table, and the wait staff are friendly and very knowledgeable about the items on the menu. There is an air of elegance, without being stuffy.

The lunch and dinner menus are similar, but dinner prices tend to be higher and there are more options available. The menu is broken down into appetizers, pizza, salads, entrees and desserts, with the name shown in Italian and the description in English. At both lunch and dinner, delicious bread is served with roasted garlic—almost reason enough for a visit to Portobello Yacht Club.

Appetizers at both lunch and dinner include a bruschetta, roasted Portobello mushroom with polenta, fried calamari, and a tomato and mozzarella salad. The dinner version tends to cost $1-2 more per appetizer, which was a bit of a surprise. I expect an entrée to be higher-priced at dinner, with a corresponding increase in portion size, but usually find appetizers to remain the same price and portion at both meals.

The tomato and mozzarella dish makes a great meal for anyone with a light appetite, especially paired with the bread and a glass of wine. The bruschetta is a good choice for sharing, as is the calamari.


Pomodoro, Cipolla e Mozzarella. Photo by Sue Holland.

Dinner includes two additional appetizers—prosciutto-wrapped shrimp and poached manila clams. Following are the restaurant's descriptions of each appetizer.

Antipasti

Bruschetta alla Toscana – a traditional favorite of charcoal grilled sourdough bread laced with extra virgin olive oil, marinated tomatoes and fresh basil; $7.95 lunch, $9.95 dinner.

Funghi Arrostiti con Polenta – wood-roasted Portobello mushroom sliced thin with warm creamy soft polenta and Gorgonzola cheese; $ 8.95 Lunch, $9.95 dinner.

Calamari Fritti – tender rings of crispy fried calamari with plum tomato basil and roasted garlic dipping sauces; $8.95 lunch, $9.95 dinner.

Pomodoro, Cipolla e Mozzarella – Fresh sliced tomato, shaved red onion, mozzarella cheese, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and basil; $7.95 lunch, $9.95 dinner.

Gamberi Arrosto con Prosciutto – herb-marinated Gulf shrimp wrapped with prosciutto di Parma roasted, served over gourmet field greens with roasted peppers, crispy leeks and 12-year-old aged balsamic vinegar; $12.95 dinner only.

Vongole al vino bianco – manila clams poached in garlic, white wine, plum tomatoes, lemon and parsley; $11.95 dinner only.


Pizzas serve as a light meal or shared appetizer. Photo by Sue Holland.

While pizza may not be considered fine or elegant dining, at Portobello Yacht Club the pizzas available are a cut above the standard fare. The crust is thin and each pizza is prepared fresh, with a wide variety of toppings for diners to choose from. Any of the pizzas would make a great light meal for one person, or an appetizer to be shared by the table.

Pizze

Create Your Own Pizza or Calzone – plum tomatoes, mozzarella, and your choice of three toppings below: mushrooms, black olives, sausage, spinach, caramelized onions, sun dried tomatoes, prosciutto, pancetta or anchovies; $10.95 lunch only.

Pizza alla Fantasia – goat cheese, plum tomatoes, caramelized onions, crimini mushrooms and thyme; $9.95 lunch, $10.95 dinner.

Quattro Formaggi – White pizza with sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, gorgonzola, parmigiano and fontina cheeses; $8.95 lunch, $9.95 dinner.

Margherita – Plum tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, Italian sausage and basil; $8.95 lunch, $9.95 dinner.

An Italian vegetable soup is available at lunch and dinner for $4.95, but the salads available are different at each meal. Lunch offerings include a chicken Caesar and a salad with greens, mozzarella and vegetables. At dinner the choices are a regular Caesar (without chicken) or house salad. The lunch salads are meals, while the dinner salads are meant as a prelude to an entrée or pasta dish.

Insalate E Zuppa

Insalata Cesare con Pollo – Romaine lettuce with traditional Caesar dressing, garlic croutons, parmigiano cheese and grilled marinated chicken breast; $11.95, or without chicken $7.95 lunch only

Insalata Rustica – grilled asparagus, prosciutto, roasted red and yellow peppers, artichokes, fresh mozzarella, olives, served over gourmet field greens tossed with a Mediterranean vinaigrette; $11.95 lunch only.

Minestrone di Verdura con Cavatelli – Italian vegetable soup with cavatelli pasta and parmigiano cheese; $4.95 lunch and dinner.

Cesare – Romaine lettuce with traditional Caesar dressing, garlic croutons and parmigiano cheese; $5.95 dinner only.

Insalata Mista della Casa – house salad with field greens, tomatoes, carrots and balsamic vinaigrette; $4.95 dinner only.

Entrees generally tend to be unique to either lunch or dinner, with the exception of some of the pasta dishes. With those, a smaller portion is available during the lunch hours, along with a reduced price. Italian food is the specialty at Portobello Yacht Club.

Pasta and Sandwiches

Penne all' Amatriciana – Penne pasta tossed with pancetta, caramelized onions, plum tomatoes, roasted garlic and basil; $10.95 lunch, $15.95 dinner.

Farfalle alla Primavera con Pollo – Pasta butterflies with asparagus, snow peas, grilled marinated chicken, cream and parmigiano cheese; $11.95 lunch, $17.95 dinner.

Rigatoni alla Calabrese – Rigatoni pasta with Italian sausage, crimini mushrooms, plum tomatoes, black olives and escarole; $10.95 lunch, $16.95 dinner.

Baci di Formaggi – delicate cheese-filled pasta purses, served with sautéed spinach, plum tomatoes, brown sage butter and shaved parmigiano cheese; $11.95 lunch.

Spaghettini alla Portobello – A house specialty! Scallops, shrimp, clams and Alaska King Crab with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, wine and herbs lightly tossed with spaghettini pasta; $25.95 dinner only.

Gamberi con Fettuccine – fettuccine pasta with charcoal grilled Gulf shrimp, asparagus and roasted garlic white wine cream sauce; $23.95 dinner only.

Linguine alle Vongole – Linguine pasta with fresh Manila clams, garlic, white wine, plum tomatoes and parsley; $18.95 dinner only.

Petto di Pollo alla Milanese – Breaded chicken breast sautéed, served with mixed greens, red onions, plum tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette; $10.95 lunch.

Panino di Bistecca – open-faced ribeye steak charcoal grilled, served on Italian baguette with caramelized onions, portobello mushrooms, spinach and rosemary potato chips; $10.95 lunch.


Panino di Bistecca. Photo by Sue Holland.

Panino di Prosciutto – traditional Italian black olive bread, pressed with prosciutto di Parma, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella, arugula, and rosemary potato chips; $9.95 lunch.

Panino di Pollo alla Valdostana – charcoal grilled chicken breast, pressed on Italian bread with fontina cheese, roasted peppers, pesto and rosemary potato chips; $9.95 lunch.

Meat and Seafood Entrees

Grigliatta di Manzo e Gamberi – charcoal grilled center cut filet of beef and gulf shrimp, served with wood roasted vegetables, red skin potatoes, and white truffle butter sauce; $39.95 dinner only.

Agnello alla Griglia – New Zealand rack of lamb charcoal grilled herb marinated, served with creamy mascarpone risotto cake, wood roasted Tuscan vegetables and rosemary sauce; $27.95 dinner only.

Tonno Arrosto con Prosciutto – prosciutto and sage wrapped yellow fin tuna wood roasted, with aged balsamic vinegar and roasted seasonal vegetables; $25.95 dinner only.

Bistecca alla Griglia – charcoal grilled ribeye steak with parmigiano cheese crust, served with roasted garlic whipped potatoes and seasonal vegetables; $25.95 dinner only.
– with shrimp add $10.00
– with 6 oz. Australian lobster tail add $20.00

Pollo alla Griglia – half chicken with roasted garlic whipped potatoes, rosemary sauce and seasonal vegetables; $17.95 dinner only.

Costoletta di Vitello alla Griglia – charcoal grilled 14-ounce center cut veal chop served with roasted garlic whipped potatoes, asparagus and white wine sage sauce; $31.95 dinner only.

Aragosta alla Griglia con Spaghettini – twin Australian lobster tails, served with spaghettini pasta, tomato basil cream sauce, asparagus and lemon basil butter; $42.95 dinner only.

Beverages include the usual offerings, along with several less common items. Fresh-squeezed lemonade is available, including both strawberry and raspberry varieties. Iced cappuccino can come with either vanilla or chocolate flavoring added. Pellegrino mineral waters are offered as well. Peach, coconut and strawberry non-alcoholic frozen drinks appeal as much to adults as they do to children. In addition to an extensive wine list, their own version of sangria is available by the glass, pitcher or half-pitcher.

Desserts are the highlight of the meal for many diners, especially when on vacation. Portobello Yacht Club will not disappoint those with a sweet tooth.

Dolci (Desserts)

Crema Cotta Carmellata – Portobello's signature dessert. Classic white chocolate custard, caramelized into a crisp candy glaze served with fresh seasonal berries; $6.95 lunch and dinner.

Cannoli alla Siciliana – traditional Sicilian cannoli filled with creamy ricotta cheese, chocolate chips, and candied orange; $6.95 lunch and dinner

Torta di Mascarpone – espresso-soaked lady finger, with mascarpone cream dusted with cocoa; $6.95 lunch and dinner.

Paradiso al Cioccolato – chocolate layered cake with chocolate frosting, toffee crunch and warm caramel sauce; $5.95 lunch and dinner.

Cappuccino Gelato – Portobello's very own chocolate coffee ice cream with toffee crunch; $4.95 lunch and dinner.

Gelati e Sorbetti – a refreshing selection of ice cream and sorbets to choose from Sorbets; $3.95 Gelati $4.95 lunch and dinner.

Frutta Fresca della Stagione – Fresh seasonal fruit with whipped cream $5.95 dinner only.

Dolci Assortiti – selection of sorbet, ice cream, fresh seasonal fruit, white chocolate custard and torta di mascarpone. Serves four; $19.95 lunch and dinner.

In addition to the regular menu, each week the chef creates a small number of special entrees. Following are the specials available earlier this year, as an example of what may be found on your visit.

Salmone alla Griglia – charcoal grilled Atlantic salmon served with lemon whipped potatoes, sautéed broccolini and roasted garlic aioli; $12.95 lunch.

Zuppa di Pesce – traditional Adriatic seafood stew, with shrimp, calamari, clams and assorted fish, braised in white wine, garlic, plum tomatoes and fresh herbs; $12.95 lunch, $27.95 dinner.

Dentice alla Griglia – charcoal grilled genuine American red snapper, served with rock shrimp risotto, lemon basil butter and garlic wilted escarole; $25.95 dinner.

Salmone Arrosto – wood roasted Atlantic salmon, served with roasted shallot whipped potatoes, braised root vegetables and pear tomato broth; $24.95 dinner.

There is also a fixed-price, multi-course dinner option for $46.95 per person, with pre-selected items that are specific to the various regions of Italy. Children have their own menu, which is relatively basic compared to the adult menu choices. Prices range from $4.95 for a hot dog meal to $12.95 for a steak dinner. Other choices include pizza, pasta, burgers and chicken tenders.


Dining al fresco is an option. Photo by Sue Holland.

When the weather is pleasant, guests may choose to dine outdoors in the attractive patio area. The same white linens, fresh flowers and dinnerware create an atmosphere every bit as nice as inside, with the added advantage of enjoying some the nice weather Florida is known for.

Portobello Yacht Club has long been a popular dining spot, and from my experiences there it consistently provides excellent food and service in a warm, inviting setting. A meal here is a relaxing break from the busy theme parks, and you just may find yourself returning for another meal here on future Walt Disney World trips!


Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Sue here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.

After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in 1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.

She takes many of these trips on her own, but she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

She works as the Administrative Services Division Head for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.

Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers. Read her trip report archive here.

You can contact Sue here.

Get the latest info about the resort at “Park Update: Walt Disney World.”

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