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Il Porto Ristorante, Old-School Italian at 121 King Street in Old Town since 1973


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Surprisingly absent from the Dining Guide is Old Town's "First Italian Restauarant" which opened in 1973....the Multiple Locations section contains two Il Porto restaurants, one in Gaithersburg and one in Frederick, at this website:

http://www.ilportorestaurant.com/

The one in Old Town is at 121 King Street, with this website:

http://www.ilportoristorante.com/

The latter is the one at which I dined this evening. It generally fits the image of an older Italian restaurant, with competent but not spectacular home made pastas and red sauces, plenty of garlic, and old school veal offerings. The cooking is not too sophiticated, but generally as pleasant as, say, Landini Brothers. (But if I had to choose between the two of them, I would probably choose Landini Brothers.)

My two companions had the Vitello Saltimbucca alla Romana, and I enjoyed the special of grilled Atlantic Salmon. I can't say that each dish was flawless -- the salmon was more on the medium side of doneness, maybe even a little beyond, and the veal dishes appeared too heavily sauced -- but the flavors were nice and the dishes were empty when the table was cleared.

Overall maybe a C+/B- or so?

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There's probably a good reason why it doesn't show up in the dining guide. I had reservations for four there one time. They insisted, at 5:30pm, on seating us at a table directly in the path from the front of the house to the kitchen and close to the bathrooms. This in a dining room that had about 6 other diners at two tables. We requested (quite nicely) a different table and were told this was the only table they had (never mind the other empty 20 tables in the room). We thanked them nicely for their time and went a couple of doors down to Landini Brothers (which is an authentic red-sauce Italian restaurant with actual service).

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I went for my first and only time in January for a gal-pal group lunch. Before ordering, we were talking about heart attacks, so most people order the pasta primavera. I ordered the manicotti. It was quite good and inspired me to start making manicotti at home. I don't need to go back there but if someone suggested it, I wouldn't be opposed. The service was good for a Saturday lunch, it wasn't very crowded and the waiter didn't mind that we were taking forever to do anything and were sort of loud too.

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I work in the area, and have been to Il Porto about half-a-dozen times for lunch. On my last visit, I ordered the Chicken Parmigiana sandwich, and was *horrified* to discover that they added mayo to the sandwhich. No lie. Who does this??? Their "italian cooking" license should be revoked!!!

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