Dining out: Portofino, Lytham
Over recent years there have been many newcomers to the restaurant scene in Lytham.
But Portofino has held its own as a destination of choice for many diners.
Looking at online reviews, it seems to be a love it or loathe it kind of place.
The service can be a bit hit and miss, and you probably have to be in the mood for a lively night to enjoy what can sometimes be the chaotic nature of the Italian dining experience.
On one previous visit I remember being shepherded out when there was a power failure! (Thankfully we had yet to order and found a table at a nearby restaurant).
Nevertheless, it’s always a fun evening and the food is of excellent quality.
The menu boasts a wide range of options from pizza baked in the traditional Neopolitan way to fresh pasta and specials including steak, veal and fish.
For those wanting a starter, prices for antipasti start at Â£5.95 for soup of the day, and go up to Â£15.50 for local speciality Lytham Shrimps.
But there are many offerings in-between, and I opted for stalwart dish garlic mushrooms, rather more flamboyantly labelled funghi trifolati on the menu.
My other half, Clive, went for grilled goats cheese which was served on toasted brioche, with roasted romano peppers, and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
The mushrooms arrived sizzling in their dish, and were plump and juicy, if maybe a little too hot at first.
Pasta options mainly range between about Â£10 and Â£16 in price, and the restaurant boasts it makes its pasta fresh each day.
As well as the usuals such as bolognese, lasagne and carbonara, there is chance to perhaps sample dishes not all Italian restaurants cook.
How about, for example linguine granchio - white crab meat tossed with chilli and garlic cherry tomatoes in a light tomato sauce.
On this occasion, my own choice was penne salsiccia, which is chorizo sausage in a chilli, garlic, tomato and basil sauce.
The sausage is thinly sliced and blends well with the sauce and pasta.
Also I was pleased to receive a moderately sized portion as when it comes to pasta, personally I find less is more.
I find a huge plate is overwhelming, and eventually becomes a burden as you try to eat your way through a pile of pasta.
A smaller amount allows you to savour the taste of the sauce more, and is just as filling in my opinion without being over-facing.
There is a fair choice on the menu for fans of seafood, but shellfish does not always agree with my husband’s digestive system.
But you cannot go wrong with tuna, so he opted for tonno e fagiloi, fresh tuna with canellini beans and red onions.
We accompanied our meal with a bottle of the house white at Â£18.95.
Portofino always has a buzzy vibe, and a bustling Friday night was no exception.
Many diners lingered at their tables, while anyone wanting their night to last longer can also pop into the adjoining Mohitos bar.
However change is afoot, with permission granted in the summer for plans to build a hotel on the upper floors of the venue.
The proposals are to create boutique-style accommodation, with 15 bespoke bedrooms.
Investment will also include the addition of a small second floor, a first floor side extension and alterations to the exterior of the building.
This would mean in future dining would be restricted to the ground floor only. Which is a shame in some ways because we have always preferred the upstairs eating area, especially when seated alongside the mezzanine.
So if you want to enjoy the upstairs, best get along their quick in case the redevelopment starts soon.
There are also Christmas menus available as the festive season approaches.
Our bill including drinks came to Â£59.30.