Road trip to Ristorante del Porto

Traveling the country behind the wheel of a car is practically written into my DNA. Ever since I was a little thing, my father and mother have taken my siblings and I out on the road. For family vacations, we would visit my mom’s relative in Ukiah and Salt Lake City Utah, not to mention yearly trips to Lake Tahoe and Disneyland. Believe it or not, eating at Denny’s, even in my home town, was special because it reminded me of stopping in at Denny’s all over California, Nevada and Utah while on the road.

While I realize a short 45 minute drive is not exactly a lengthy road trip, I still felt that tingling nostalgia when Anne and I crossed Lake Pontchartrain to spend the day on the Northshore. We intended to go shopping at The Bra Genie to find the proper equipment to strap down my unwieldy mammaries, but we decided to make a day of it, visiting friends and trying out a new restaurant (new for us, that is) for lunch.

Before I go any further, is it Ristorante del Porto or Del Porto Ristorante? If someone could clear that up for me, I’d really appreciate it! Regardless of the name, Anne, Candy and I enjoyed lunch at…well…the restaurant on the corner of E. Boston and N. New Hampshire Street in downtown Covington.

We got there right around noon and scored a corner table next to a window. I have to say up front that none of us were dressed up, certainly not anything like the groups of “uptown” ladies who came in after we arrived, but that didn’t deter the hostess and waitstaff from treating us like the awesome people we were, making us all breathe an audible sigh of relief. After all, there’s nothing worse than a snooty waiter when all you want to do is enjoy good food. Am I right?

We ordered several appetizers to share, starting with the stunningly delicious Wagyu Beef Carpaccio drizzled with truffled creme fraiche, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and a small pile of arugula. This was so good that we could have easily devoured our own plate, perhaps even two. We also shared the warm, house made mozzarella with tomato confit, toasted pine nuts, fresh basil and anchovy. Candy was a bit trepidatious about the anchovy at first, but she quickly discovered how wonderful it tasted and we all made quick work of the cheesy dip.

I also ordered a bowl of their butternut squash soup with pork belly (oh my!), but unfortunately they ran out and offered their lentil soup instead. It was rich, earthy and quite hearty, but I still had to suppress a pang for the missed squash.

For our entrees, Candy had the Maple-Glazed Pork Loin with caramelized onions, baby spinach and garlic aioli on ciabatta bread. I got to taste a bit of the pork and while a tad dry, the flavor was that tempting combination of salty and sweet. Anne got a light shrimp and house made pasta dish with chopped tomatoes and fresh basil that gave a licorice flavor to the delicate curls of pasta and buttery shrimp. I ordered the pan-fried flounder with butter-laden sweet potatoes and steamed spinach. Needless to say, I inhaled every bite even though I was full beyond bursting.

But…as you well know…we couldn’t possibly leave without dessert! Anne and Candy decided to share a Chocolate & Banana Bread Pudding and while I like bread pudding (especially chocolate), I had my sights set on an affogato, something I’d never enjoyed before. Technically a beverage, this particular affogato was three scoops of caramel gelato (house made of course) topped table-side by a shot of hot espresso. Let me just say that I absolutely loved it and believe there is no better way to drink a shot of espresso…or at least not that I have yet encountered. Being car-less, I can’t help but wish that there was a Del Porto Ristorante or Ristorante del Porto on this side of the lake, call it what they will!

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