Porto’s chef’s island, the centerpiece of the restaurant, is an 80-foot-long oblong counter built with repurposed wood from fishing vessels and slabs of brushed granite. Floating above are custom blackened-steel and wood shelves whose scale and size evoke the frame of a fishing vessel’s hull. From this intimate perch, guests are able to interact with Porto’s culinary and beverage teams while watching the dining scene unfold in front of them.
Custom-designed wall coverings in four one-of-a-kind motifs by acclaimed local artist and regular Maison Bonhomme collaborator Erik DeBat envelop the room with evocative prints recalling the beauty of graphic design and lithographic printing of the 19th century. That cultural resonance also extends to all table service items, which have been sourced from Sargadelos, a 200-year-old maker of fine ceramics from Galicia.
Intense attention to detail as well as a passion for reinventing vintage pieces and giving historical pieces new life, signatures of Maison Bonhomme, appear throughout Porto, including early-20th century American composition light fixtures, adorned with an acanthus leaf pattern and their original chain and canopy, that once hung in the lobby of the historic Continental Bank on LaSalle Street.
Wine storage is anything but ordinary at Porto with a 19th century Belgian library bookcase carefully repurposed beautifully doing its new job. And a 1872 cast-iron balcony, one of two from the Northern Illinois Hospital and Asylum, was rebuilt by ironworkers and wraps around and frames the interior walls facing Ashland and Chicago avenues.
Flanking either side of Porto’s entrance are two cozy nooks, each appointed with plush velvet armchairs and stunning Lucite-and-brass dining tables, perfect for small gatherings. On one side, a monumental Murano crystal chandelier designed by Maison Bonhomme in collaboration with the Venetian masters hangs underneath a 20-foot-high skylight.
Porto’s Atrium, located off the main dining room in the rear of the restaurant, channels the feeling of an impromptu gathering at a winery, with the crackling sound of wood burning in a nearby wheel grill filling the room. Large granite communal tables provide seating for large groups, while an antique 20th century French truck panel table offers guests a place to comfortably gather and socialize with a glass of wine in hand. Overhead are custom chandeliers imaginatively crafted from hand-woven rope and vintage metal fishing baskets, circa 1950 from France, formerly used to catch sardines. When the warmer weather arrives, a retractable roof and sliding windows will bring the outdoors in.