Portello Rosso… tapas in the CBD
Tapas – oh my goodness! Ever since that brilliant night in Jaleo – in Washington DC – I have had a craving for great tapas. Where will I find it in Melbourne??? There must be some brilliant places, but never having explored the options in my own fair city – I’ve been at a loss. So, a girl’s got to start somewhere – and Portello Rosso seemed like a likely candidate. Situated less than 2 blocks from my apartment, just off Little Bourke Street, proximity played a large part in its selection. However, good friend C had another criteria for visiting entirely – and that was the pork belly!!
Joselito Jamón Iberico de Bellota – from the black-footed, acorn-fed Iberian pig (30g)
We started with some gorgeous jamon – naturally we went for the best! Pigs that eat acorns happen to be very happy piggies – and apparently produce the best pork. It does come with its own bread –
However, happy memories of Jaleo flamencoing through my head, I wanted the tomato bread to go with it.
Pan catalan – grilled bread rubbed with roast tomato and spices served with confit garlic.
Alas, it wasn’t the same as Jaleo – but it was still good! Especially with that confit garlic that was so beautiful, we just spread it on the bread like it was butter! Hello!
Patatas Bravas – crispy potato dusted in sweet smoked paprika with spiced tomato sauce and aioli
No night at a Spanish Tapas restaurant is complete without patatas bravas. This was a lovely version, but I have to say that Pelican in St Kilda do a better one. Nonetheless – we happily picked away at this throughout the night in between courses.
Gambas Alijio – Garlic prawns cooked in manzanilla sherry, tomato & basil
Absolutely gorgeous plate of prawns – with a fantastic balance of flavours. It was garlicky and buttery, and definitely didn’t have too much acid from the tomato – you know how sometimes the tomato can overpower the prawns. Not so in this dish – pure magic! Thanks to Miranda and Co. on the next table for letting me take a photo of theirs, as we had gobbled ours down so quickly, we realised we had forgotten to take a photo!! That’s how good those prawns were!!
Crispy pork belly over almond & garlic puree
Hello you beautiful thing!! Look at this divine piece of pork belly – it tasted as good as it looked! The waitress told us a story about a little 4 year old girl who came in and all she ordered was 3 pieces of the pork belly. And she sat there and ate them all. I so wanted to be that 4 year old girl. Definitely one of the dishes of the night.
Chickpea, manchego & sweet potato fritters
Piquillo pepper stuffed with spanner crab and fish mousse and dill
Still feeling a little peckish – we ordered a couple more dishes. A special on the night, the fritters were a golden, burnished brown – intensely crispy on the outside, and gorgeous and soft on the inside with a riot of flavours. The stuffed peppers were a real surprise treat, there was a good proportion of spanner crab – but the fish mousse, which bound it together, was beautiful – delicately scented with the dill, it was absolutely delicious.
Portello Rosso is a great little Spanish tapas restaurant locked away in the heart of the CBD – a genuine find – especially just around the corner from the spruiking mayhem that is Hardware Lane. It too, lives down another quintessential Melbourne laneway, and from a tapas perspective, it hit the spot in many respects. The great thing about it is that there’s something for everyone. I could bring Andrew here and he would be quite happy chowing down on that pork belly, some chorizo and patatas bravas! Definitely worth checking out!