Fresh, wild caught fish imported weekly travels to Porto’s wood-burning ovens and grills where Executive Chef Marcos Campos, Chef de Cuisine Erwin Mallet and Executive Pastry Chef Shannah Primiano take center stage at our expansive chef’s island and chef’s counter. Open-flame cooking, the most primitive of all culinary techniques, was specifically chosen for its ability to impart a sublime range of flavors, trigger nostalgia and tap into smoke-scented memories. As on land, seasonality and sustainability plays an important factor in the sea, limiting the availability of many items to a two- to three-month season. Curing and smoking, with a light hand, are techniques used to ensure that the fresh fish Porto imports can be enjoyed later into the year despite fishing seasons coming to a close.
The wood-burning oven stays busy even while the restaurant is closed, its embers slowly turning fish bones into a rich stock or helping to enrich the flavors of an over-night stew. Leftover herbs get a second life as various infusions used in Porto’s cocktails.
Fresh, imported seaweed, a superb ingredient rarely found outside of Michelin-starred restaurants along the Atlantic Coast of Spain plays an important role at Porto, where Campos incorporates the unique sea vegetable in more substantial and innovative ways.
The Spanish and Portuguese have perfected the art of conservas, a centuries-old preservation technique that captures the essence of the sea in a can. These tinned fish and shellfish are treasure chests full of seafood flavor, oftentimes an expression more exquisite than that of their “catch of the day” versions. At Porto, guests can feast on sustainably harvested berberechos, navajas, sardinillas, buttery bonito del norte belly, almejas, zamburiñas and more. Traditionally eaten directly out of their tins with little fanfare, Campos has opted instead to present these pristine products in groundbreaking ways, while still highlighting their unique and delicate flavors.
Following Campos’ lead, the desserts from Executive Pastry Chef Shannah Primiano find inspiration in classic Spanish and Portuguese sweet dishes before channeling more contemporary methods and intriguing ingredient pairings. In her hands, Porto’s desserts find the perfect balance between nostalgia, sweet, savory and adventurous.