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Portobello’s Meatball Bar

Written By Scott Joseph On July 23, 2010


(Click on image above to hear Tony Mantuano’s description of the Meatball Bar.)

Portobello, the Italian restaurant at DownTown Disney, announced the grand opening of its new Meatball Bar, so I went down to take a look. It wasn’t what I was expecting, thank God.

When I heard Meatball Bar — not to be confused with Meathead Bar, something entirely different — I was thinking something along the lines of a salad bar or pasta bar. You know, you load up your plate with beefy orbs then work your way down the line pouring on various sauces and toppings. Yes, you’re right, it does sound dreadful.

Luckily that’s not what we have here. More than anything else, this is a Meatball Bar in name only, or, more specifically, in branding. It’s just an attempt to give the bar an identity, although I’ve never had a problem with a bar being identified as, you know, a bar. But that’s just me.

But as long as they’ve slapped the name Meatball on the place they figured they might as well serve some, too. (That is, the food product; not the guests.) So the bar now has a bar-only menu of meatball sliders. But there’s more than just the standard beef or pork. There are also chicken and salmon meatball sliders. I tried all but the salmon and liked the spicy pork version the best.

The Portobello crew has also installed some beers from Orlando Brewing. (Portobello is very keen on using as many local purveyors as possible; I approve.) Three brews were on tap: Old Pelican, an English pale ale; Euro Pilz, a full-flavored pilsner (and my favorite); and Blackwater Porter. The latter is a very dark beer but was brewed to be light in flavor. It also had hints of chocolate and coffee. In fact, the kitchen had used some in its tiramisu, which they called a beeramisu. Go ahead and groan; it was actually pretty tasty.

The Meatball Bar will be a good choice for those who are headed to a movie at Pleasure Island, or perhaps going to catch a La Nouba performance but don’t want to commit to a fuller — and costlier — meal.

Tony Mantuano, executive chef at Chicago’s Spiaggia, another Levy Restaurants restaurant, and a Top Chef Master, was in town for the opening. Click on the image above to hear him explain the Meatball Bar. Here’s a link to the Portobello listing.

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