Restaurant: Porta Via
Location: 63 N Swarthmore Ave, Pacific Palisades, CA 9027. (310) 499-2989
Date: September 24, 2018
Cuisine: Hint of Italian
Rating: New, nice ambiance, and solidly mediocre food
Rich Caruso, billionaire developer, has recently redeveloped the Palisades Village area just 2 minutes from my house. After years of no restaurants at all we were excited to get a raft of new ones and so I have been systematically trying them. Do bear in mind that this place was about 3 days old when I first did.
Porta Via is a clone of a Beverly Hills restaurant. And while the name might lead you to the conclusion that it’s Italian, or maybe Spanish, it’s really just American lunch food. Maybe someone ran an Italian flag through the kitchen. It’s not even slightly, marginally European.
The build out for the whole village is lovely with a great outside patio.
And a stylish interior.
The menu is flat out boring by my standards.
Gazpacho. I love the authentic Andalusian style of liquid salad. I even make a great one myself. This is the sort of Tomato juice style of Gazpacho. It’s not bad — but not really good either and doesn’t have that nice whipped consistency or sharp vinegar tang.
Chopped Salad. Organic chopped lettuces, beets, garbanzo beans, green beans, tomato & Feta. Champagne shallot vinaigrette. It’s a little baby salad. Doesn’t look that interesting or dressed either.
Cobb Salad. Organic chopped lettuces, grilled chicken, bacon, tomato, celery, avocado, egg & blue cheese.Red wine mustard vinaigrette. This was a pretty lame cobb salad and tiny to boot. It wasn’t horrible or anything, but was underdressed, small, and just not very exciting.
‘Impossible’ Burger. Plant-based vegan burger, lettuce, tomato & avocado. Brioche sesame bun. pommes frites. Good for a vegan burger, fairly meaty, if a bit dry. Could have used an aioli or something. Everything here is bland and dry.
Prosciutto Sandwich. prosciutto di parma, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, lettuce & black olive tapenade on grilled ciabatta.
I won’t pass final judgement on Porta Via yet until I go a couple of times, and they were about 48-72 hours into service and had absolutely zero training prior to opening. I forgive them all that. What I don’t currently forgive them is the inexcusably boring menu. I mean I fell asleep reading it. Nothing is original. And even worse than that rather grievous sin is not even executing very well on the classics. It’s possible to do a great cobb, a great caesar, great gazpacho etc. And if you are going to be so predictable and trite (not to mention fairly pricey) you damn well out to execute superlatively. Now I wouldn’t expect a crazy level this early in their life cycle, but I can tell from the plating, style, etc, that the don’t even aspire to it.