Hidden amongst memories of Hull’s maritime past, up a twisting staircase inside a converted Victorian warehouse and overlooking the marina, is a little bit of Italy. Upon entering an unassuming portal, reaching the top floor, and opening a substantial door you are suddenly faced and embraced with the sights and smells of traditional yet contemporary Italian cuisine. Light and airy, quite spacious and with a relaxing atmosphere, welcome to Al Porto.
And what a very warm and friendly welcome we received on a very chilly Tuesday evening.
An important point for us was that the dining table was actually big enough for our party of four and that there was enough space around the table to serve. OK, it’s not the most important thing about dining, but it is part of the experience when sometimes restaurants nowadays pack tables in and compromise customer comfort for customer capacity. Trying to leave your table without having to climb over the folks behind, and negotiating a pathway through the seated mass of other diners, is an art in itself. But not an issue here.
Our drinks order was taken promptly and a nice touch was the complementary warm focaccia with olive oil and balsamic vinegar while we waited for the starters.
We started with choices of Freddi (cold starters) or the warm stuff. I had mussels in a white wine creamy sauce; the sauce was absolutely delicious. Thankfully there was crusty bread to dip into it.
Other guests chose:
Frittelle di Pesce ; a trio of Fish Bon Bon, made with crab, salmon, and sea bass
in a pea and mint purée.
And Fegato D’oca, a duck liver pate served on toasted bread with orange and red onion chutney. All of which disappeared very quickly as they were so delicious.
Then it was time for the mains. There was something for everybody. Meat, fish, pasta and vegetarian options. We chose:
Gamberetti – baby prawns with courgettes and cherry tomatoes in a creamy sauce
Ravioli all’aragosta – lobster ravioli with baby prawns, cherry tomatoes, garlic and onions in a saffron creamy sauce, very tasty.
and Filetto alla griglia – steak in a sauce of your choice. This was a little disappointing as it should have been cooked to ‘medium’ and was actually ‘well done’. Also for the price we think potatoes should have been included instead of being an ‘additional side’.
Mine was a strange choice from the ‘Specials’ board, namely Duck Stroganoff. OK, a tad Russian, but I just fancied something different. I have to say, it was delicious with every mouthful savoured.
Could we manage a sweet? It was a challenge but we decided to go for it. Well, wouldn’t you?
One issue, rather trivial, yet important enough to mention – ‘TURN THE MUSIC DOWN A BIT!’, and a warning to those who may struggle with stairs; the restaurant is very much upstairs.
Was it expensive? Well, with a modest amount of drinks the bill for 4 persons came to around £160, so it wasn’t cheap. But if you enjoy Italian cuisine and you have a special occasion or want to treat yourself then we would thoroughly recommend it. The eating experience was excellent. The service was cheerful, friendly and helpful. Modern Italy in the heart of Hull.