The first solo restaurant from Gotham Bar & Grill’s longtime chef Alfred Portale garnered two-stars this week in a glowing review from Times critic Pete Wells. The Times critic found that Chelsea Italian restaurant Portale — which opened last November at 126 W. 18th Street, between 6th and 7th avenues — is serving up “emphatic” sauces and “high-spirited” appetizers, Wells writes.
The Times critic was particularly fond of Portale’s pasta dishes, specifically the tortellini, whose contents he likened to hot fudge:
His response to Emilia-Romagna’s delicate tortellini in brodo is to stuff wads of foie gras, cream and chestnut paste, which melt like hot fudge, into tortellini the size of pinkie rings. In Italy, brodo for tortellini is meant to be a little restrained. At Portale, it is a voluptuous double chicken stock.
Wells did raise an eyebrow over the restaurant’s cuts of meat and fish, which he says were “generous and skillfully cooked” but more often upstaged by the appetizers, pastas, and vegetables they were accompanied by. Still, even that “wasn’t all that bad,” he says.
Portale’s one of the most legendary chefs in the city, shaping American fine dining while leading Gotham Bar & Grill. While there, he won three James Beard awards, received five three-star reviews in the Times, and held one Michelin star since 2006. After more than three decades at Gotham, he left the restaurant to open Portale in November, the first time he has had a restaurant of his own. Though his new restaurant didn’t get as many stars as Gotham did, Portale is a more casual endeavor. Two stars.