Monday, January 17, 2011

Il Porto Ristorante, Alexandria, VA

Il Porto Ristorante exterior
It was cold, we were hungry, Italian cuisine fit the bill. Maryland and I left Dupont Circle and headed to Alexandria to meet my college friend, Majorly. At her suggestion, we sought out Il Porto Ristorante on King Street. With Maryland’s good prep, we found King Street easily and after a few minutes discovered a parking garage that was only $3/hour on South Fairfax Street near the intersection of Wales Street (make a mental note). Most other garages were $5/hour or a $7 flat rate. Once parked, we strolled up to King Street and decided to pop in Pop’s Old Fashion Ice Cream Company since we had a few extra minutes. Homemade ice cream in a variety of unique flavors placed Pop’s at the top of our evening dessert list. See the review on Pop’s **

We arrived at Il Porta slightly before 7pm and were quickly seated by the fireplace upstairs. This was a plus since we had been walking in the cold and sampling ice cream (who does that!). Once Majorly arrived, we made our selections. She and Maryland both chose one of the specials, a cheese tortellini with chicken in a tomato cream sauce. The waiter told us that everything is prepared to order and customers are encourage to change the pasta type or sauces to make their desired dish. I was torn between the Fettuccine Alfredo, the special sans the chicken or Capellini Primavera. I consulted the waiter and he said if I was hungry, go with the Primavera and that I could change the sauce to a cream variety. I said that was splendid and I EVEN changed the pasta to whole wheat fettucine since I prefer fettuccine to other long pastas. Il Porto offers whole wheat spaghetti and fettuccine. Finalized, it was a Fettuccine Primavera with cream sauce. Customization is key, especially without griping from the kitchen!

Fresh, hot bread arrived and soon thereafter, our entrees. Maryland and Majorly were quite happy with the special, as I was with my own version of primavera. The portions were hearty, but none of us had a problem finishing our dishes. We sat and enjoyed ourselves for a while after dinner. The waiter allowed us to relax after our meal and chat without shoving the bill under our noses, as some other servers do.

We did view the dessert menu, but already had Pop’s Ice Cream in our heads. Some of Il Porto’s dolce offerings were a white chocolate mousse, a white raspberry truffle, Tiramisu, Cannoli and a few others. I am fairly certain these would all be fabulous, from what we experienced with our entrees.

We did not need a reservation, but I am sure it would not hurt to make one, especially if you have a larger party. Il Porto Ristorante is open 364 days each year (only closed Thanksgiving Day) and serves lunch and dinner daily.

Thumbs up!

Il Porto Ristorante
121 King Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Phone: (703) 836-8833

Il Porto Ristorante on Urbanspoon

SoHo Tea & Coffee, Washington, DC

SoHo Tea and Coffee interior
After having a delicious crepe at Crepes-a-Go-Go, I had a craving for some hot specialty drink. I am not one for spending a lot on these types of drinks, but I discovered that I love a chai latte with some flavoring, of course. I have even gone so far to buy all of the ingredients and make chai lattes at home, not something for which I am known. Having this creamy drink in mind, Maryland and I noticed a tea and coffee shop right near Crepes-a-Go-Go on P Street. Putting more money in the meter would avoid ANOTHER parking ticket, which neither of us wanted. SoHo Tea and Coffee is a decent sized shop in Dupont Circle, a nice area of DC with lots to do. I had my sights set on the chai, but the specialty drink menu caught Maryland’s and my eyes immediately. I am not a coffee drinker, but some of the selections, such as the White Chocolate Mocha or Hello Gorgeous Macchiato looked divine, were about to make me one. Always having a keen eye for things that work out perfectly, Maryland saw Sami’s Choo Choo which was a hot chocolate with peanut butter and is described as ‘drinking a peanut butter cup’ on SoHo’s website. Hello, that was us. Of course, the hot chocolate was not enough, so we added a blueberry cheese danish to our order to share. While waiting, we chatted a bit with the staff, who were very friendly and getting a kick out of the building excitement Maryland and I had about the Sami’s Choo Choo (great name too, eh?). If a blueberry cheese danish is not your fancy (what is wrong with you!), other treats included cinnamon buns, oatmeal cookies, some health bars, sandwiches and breakfast items.

We found a table and our drink was ready in minutes. When I say this drink was hot, it was HOT. It was steaming until we reached Alexandria, our next destination, which was a good 25 minutes away! The blueberry cheese danish was homemade and very, very tasty. We love SoHo Tea & Coffee!

The atmosphere was relaxing and looks to be a great place to get some work done or hang out with friends. We were the only souls without computers (all Mac’s mind you) - no surprise there since Maryland and I are some of the last non-SmartPhone creatures on the planet. If our parking meter was not running out, we probably would have stayed, but we had to navigate (without a GPS, of course) ourselves to Alexandria to meet a friend for dinner. Thankfully, Maryland is good with a map.

SoHo Tea & Coffee’s website shows they have a happy hour Monday-Friday 4-7pm (hay!) and other activities like board game night. With good music and funky decor, it is a fun place with treats and drinks that will put anyone in a good mood.


SoHo Tea & Coffee
2150 P. Street, Northwest
Washington D.C., DC 20037

Soho Tea & Coffee on Urbanspoon