The menu was developed by James Beard award-winning chef Tony Mantuano, former Levy regional chef John Radcliff and Portobello executive chef Steven Richard.
We started with a grande misti ($23.95), a platter filled with tissue-thin prosciutto and soppressata, slices of firm Parmesan and soft pecorino cheeses, roasted zucchini, three crostini generously smeared with ricotta and drizzled with honey and three more crostini topped with roasted tomatoes. The dish is easily grazed by two or three and many could call it supper.
The calamari rings ($10.95) were equally good. Lightly fried and ever-so tender they didn't need the tomato-basil dipping sauce.
The quattro formaggi (four cheeses) grilled pizza ($10.95) was nicely crisp on the outer crust but unfortunately evolved into a soggy thin pie as you neared the center. The gorgonzola completely overpowered the mozzarella, Parmigiano and fontina and had a little acidic tussle with the sun-dried tomatoes as well.
The farm salad ($6.95) was a mix of chopped romaine with marinated olives, salami, mozzarella and gorgeous caper berries. My only quibble is that my serving was seriously olive heavy. We counted 12.
The rigatoni calabrese ($19.95) blended sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, escarole and olives. The sausage was sage-heavy like breakfast sausage, not Italian sausage. But the element that hurt the dish most was the pasta. It was rubbery.
That tough pasta theme continued with the linguine with clams ($23.95). And sadly, the dish had no hint of the lemon or garlic promised and the clams were mushy.
For the ravioli gigante ($19.95), two over-sized raviolis were about 5-inches square. But is was mostly chewy pasta. You had to work your way near the center to cut into the wonderful ricotta and spinach filling, which was sadly smothered.
The filet mignon ($39.95) was spot-on medium rare and came topped with a beautiful melange of sauteed earthy mushrooms.
For dessert, the white chocolate custard ($7.95) was as thick as old pudding and lacked the crisp glaze promised. The chocolate paradise layer cake ($7.95) is a better alternative for those with a sweet tooth.
Portobello's transformation from yacht-club decor to an Italian countryside eatery is 99 percent complete. Strangely the bathrooms still have the porthole motif of the Yacht Club and are very dimly lit.
Our service on both visits was excellent. I just wish the training was as efficient in the kitchen.
Food Editor Heather McPherson can be reached at 407-420-5498 or email@example.com.
The dish on diningPortobello Trattoria
Where: 1650 Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, Downtown Disney next to Fulton's Crab House.
When: Lunch 11:30 a.m -4 p.m., dinner 4 p.m. - 11 p.m.