When it’s 36 degrees (that’s 90F in the shade) and you still get a few dozen customers wanting hot pasta for lunch, I’d say your pasta must be pretty darn good. I was one of those midday midsummer diners, but found a cool place on Porta Nova’s shady terrace to tuck into my paccheri au couli de tomate et mousse de bufula, one of several of the chef’s recommendations. Although the menu changes, what doesn’t is Porta Nova’s knack for being two opposite things at once – almost cavernously huge yet cosy; tablecloth-and-napkin fancy, yet family-friendly; inventive, yet down-to-earth.
I’ve seen Port Nova’s staff push together tables to fit a group of 40, and I’ve had dinner with an entire theatre cast after the closing show (boy, did we go through some of Porto Nova’s extensive wines!). But you can still enjoy a romantic dinner at Porto Nova, or have a quiet business discussion. Privacy’s on the menu if you want it, and so is everything from homemade pizzas and pasta of all types to Angus beef and grilled tuna.
Because it’s so big, you can almost always find a place. They have a separate bar up front, too, which would be a perfect place to wait for a table if ever you had to. It’s popular after work and fireplaces add appeal in winter. It was far too hot to think about fireplaces on my latest visit though – although as usual, I basked in the warmth of the staff!