Hidden away in one of Melbourne’s alleyways, this Spanish tapas & jamon bar emanates an edgy, yet sophisticated vibe. I love it. I’d been here before with The Girls, but this time I was with The Other Girls – that is, the high-school chickees. Tic Tac had just arrived back to good ’ol Melbie from her 2 month stint on Christmas Island, so Dee and myself were keen to catch up. I also picked this place because I knew Tic Tac was looking forward to her trip to Spain later on in the year, and that she didn’t get to see her beloved Rafa at the tennis this year...
Dee and I arrived first, at 6.45pm on a Thursday. It was surprisingly a quiet evening, and it remained that way (less than half-full) throughout the night, which was nice for a change. Tic Tac soon arrived, looking super tanned, and we decided to start off with a jug of sangria.
The menu consists of Piqucino (smaller single-serve tapas), Mediano (larger plates to share), Paella, La Charcuteria (meats), and Postres (desserts).
Croquette of prawn and chorizo with coriander, mint & honey sauce
Tortilla – Spanish style frittata with onion jam
Fritter of zuchinni, sweet potato & corn with minted garlic yoghurt
Crispy pork belly over almond & garlic puree
For the life of me, I couldn’t decide which tapa was my favourite. They were all good, but it would be a close call between the crispy pork belly, and the tortilla. The pork belly was just how I liked it, except perhaps a tad too salty – it achieved the perfect ratio of meat-to-fat. As you’ve probably observed from my previous posts on pork belly, I like mine crispy and with not too much fat – an example of too much is when fat content > meat content. Portello Rosso’s pork belly was perfect in this sense – plus, serving size was very generous. If you’re a pork belly fan (and who isn’t, unless you’re vegetarian), do yourself a favour and order one (or two) of these.
The tortilla was the surprise stand out, especially with its delectable sweet onion jam. It was very well made, and tasted as good as it looks. The croquette and fritter, while tasty, paled in comparison (though that mint and honey sauce on the croquet was certainly nothing to sneeze at - it was mighty tasty!).
Patatas Bravas – Crispy potato dusted in sweet smoked paprika w spiced tomato sauce & aioli
Loved the crispy potatoes. A very simple but yummy dish.
Paella de Carne- Selection of spanish meats, chorizo, botifarra, morcilla, vegetables and herbs
The paellas take 45 minutes to cook, and there’s a minimum order of 2 serves, so bear this in mind when making your selections. But definitely order paella here – it’s the best darned paella I’d ever eaten. If this is how paellas are meant to taste...I’m saving up my money for a trip to Spain as well! Not to mention everyone who comes back from a holiday in Spain can’t shut up about the incredibly good-looking people there...yep, a trip to Barcelona is definitely on the agenda next year.
Though we were full, of course we couldn’t pass on dessert, given how good the meal was.
Churros con Chocolate
While certainly tasty in their own right, I felt the dessert was overshadowed by the deliciousness of the savoury dishes. These Churros were hot and soft on the inside and (somewhat) crispy on the outside, but I felt they actually aren’t as good as the Vic Market Churro Van. Plus the portions were quite small.
Funnily enough, just when we were finishing up dessert, one of Dee’s friends Facebooked her and recommended she try San Telmo for good Spanish fare...I discreetly jotted it down on my to-go list.
After the disappointment of Movida, it took me awhile to try Spanish food again, but this revisit to Portello Rosso has opened my eye (and stomach) to explore more Spanish fare...
To sum up this post, this place is one restaurant you should get yourself to ASAP. Loved the ambience, loved the food, and the service was attentive and efficient. No point delaying - book a table, now. And order the pork belly. And tortilla. And paella. And maybe some sangria while you’re at it (why not).
Ratings (based on my own experience, on this occasion):
Food – 9 / 10
Service – 8 ½ / 10
Value for money – 8 / 10
OVERALL CONSENSUS: 4 ½ bags (out of 5)