Porta Romana opened about five months ago and is the city’s first – only authentic, local Italian restaurant. About time right?!
As regular readers of my restaurant reviews know, Spruce Grove is not far from where Mike and I live on the west end – so we do often try to take in activities/movies/restaurants in that fine city. I was very excited to hear about Porta Romana’s opening and even more thrilled when Nicole suggested it as our date night restaurant.
We arrived at 6:30 without a reservation because well, we didn’t think we’d need one. We were wrong! This place was packed. All the tables were filled and luckily Nicole was the first on the waiting list, so we did end up getting in pretty quickly (about a 20 minute wait) but while we waited the entranceway slowly filled up with more and more people, and throughout our dinner there was always someone waiting by the door for a table. Reservations recommended here! (Note: While we waited, the owner came up to chat with us and then later into the wait, a server came up to chat/reassure us. Super friendly!)
The space is really clean, classy, just a very nice room with some nice fixtures, including this great rock wall with fireplace:
Natural lighting spills in through some pretty big windows which is always preferred for food photos! There were only two servers working while we were there, along with the owners (husband and wife team!) Our server was not as quick or as attentive as I would have preferred, but I’m sympathetic to the fact that they are new, understaffed, and extremely busy, so I forgive her!
We shared the Avocado e Gamberetti (avocado with shrimp in a salsa rosa – $15) to start. It was an absolutely beautiful dish!! Just the perfect presentation. I really enjoyed it but Nicole and I both agreed it is definitely a bit too rich and creamy. It balanced out very well with the plate of bread we received, but had we not been dipping and pairing with bread, eating this dish alone might be a lot for your palette. Really tasty though!! And again, gorgeous plate.
I really liked their menu offering (see their full menu here). They also write daily specials on chalkboard in the restaurant. There’s a bunch of dishes where the pasta is handmade – which is fantastic (there’s just an instantly tastier bite to handmade pasta!) And they also have a series of durum wheat pastas. That’s one of the ones I tried – the Spaghetti Ai Fruitti Di Mare (durum wheat, fresh mussels and clams, scallops, shrimp, calamari, in tomato & white wine sauce – $22). I loved this dish. The portions are generous. The pasta is cooked perfectly and the sauce is great. I took home some for lunch the next day and wolfed it down too, very good!
Nicole ordered the Petto Di Pollo Ripieno (tender chicken breast stuffed with spinach, mozzarella & feta, in a mushroom suace, with mashed potatoes – $20). It was good, though I tried a bit of it and thought it could’ve used maybe a bit more seasoning (Nicole agrees). I also thought the presentation wasn’t as fantastic (just a bit lumpy).
Overall we were both quite happy with our experience at Porta Romana. I personally loved my dish, and did really think the appetizer was quite tasty (when balanced with bread). I think I would’ve been quite happy with the chicken dish too if I had ordered it. I think price points are quite fair for the portions and deliciousness that you get. Love the authenticity and idea of handmade pasta. On their website they say their chef is straight from Italy, and I think it shows in the dishes. The husband/owner also had quite a heavy Italian accent as well. I absolutely want to and will visit this place again, there was lots on the menu I still want to try. It’s a perfect place for a date night or special occasion (or just regular ol dinner!) Though service was a bit slow, the server we had was still very friendly. I know they are planning to hire more people so that should also improve the slower service.
I absolutely recommend Porta Romana – for anyone living in Spruce Grove but even for Edmontonians. We have a lot of Italian options in Edmonton but it’s always nice to try something new and I think this place is pretty great already, plus has a lot of potential for more greatness. I had Italian at a different Italian restaurant the next day in Edmonton (review to come) and being able to compare so immediately to Porta Romana, made me appreciate the Porta Romana experience even more!
Given the line-ups and the tasty food we experienced, I don’t think Porta Romana will have any problem becoming the go-to Italian restaurant in Spruce Grove. It really is quite a surprise that it’s taken so long for the city to get its first local, authentic Italian eatery.
A very, very welcome addition!
Let me know what you think when/if you’ve tried it!