The restaurant itself is slightly hidden in Gastown - you have to turn into a very short alleyway to see the door of the restaurant. I think that there's another entrance elsewhere but I haven't found it! The inside is very spacious and the walls are decorated with paintings, there is a very European/Italian feel about it all (although I've never been to Europe, so don't quote me on this).
This time I was there for dinner, and having looked at the menu the day before, I already knew what I was going to get!
First, of course, the bread! It was delicious, soft, and warm. We actually asked for a second batch of bread after we had finished our first one.
Our entrees came very quickly, which was excellent because I was absolutely famished. I've never had spaghetti carbonara before and quite frankly, I was initially disappointed upon seeing it because it didn't really have any sauce, which is obviously the best part of pasta (for me anyway)!
But upon tasting it, I was surprised and delighted by how light it was, but still had an incredibly delicious flavor. The bits of bacon didn't really taste like anything at all, but perhaps all the flavor had been absorbed by the pasta?
My own entree was the penne salsiccia.
The first thing I noticed was that the penne was a bit too firm for my liking. Their pastas are all cooked al dente but I felt like, in this case, it was a little too al dente. The second thing I noticed was that, holy cow, this dish was spicy. The sauce packed a lot of heat, so much so that I felt like the dish itself didn't have too much flavor because all I could taste was the spicyness. Personally, I didn't really mind too much because I like a good kick to my tastebuds now and then, but it's probably not for everyone. Other than that, the dish had quite a few large pieces of sundried tomato (which is great if you like them), and there was a good balance of pasta and italian sausage.
The service at Al Porto is very good. Every time I've been there, their servers have always been very polite and our glasses of water were never empty. The meals generally come very quickly, with the exception of one visit where the kitchen was very backed up.
Al Porto is a good place to go if you're craving some pasta, but if you're looking for an absolutely extraordinary meal, this might not be the place for you.