Portofino Grill

Casual dining in a country club atmosphere . . .

It doesn’t get much better than a round of golf followed by a nice meal. At Portofino Grill at LaPorte’s Briar Leaf Golf Course, owners Mary Casini and Lawrence
Headley work hard to make sure the 19th hole is just as enjoyable as the first 18.

“It’s casual dining in a country club atmosphere,” says Casini, who has been in the restaurant business since she was bussing tables when she was 16.

Portofino’s started as an Italian restaurant, but when the owners wanted to get out of the business, Casini saw her opening to take charge in a business she loved.

Casini and Headley acquired the restaurant, and today they have a dining room that seats 65, two banquet rooms with combined seating for 160, and a barroom that seats 20. The restaurant, now in its 13th year, has 30 employees.

Headley, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, is the chef, and he previously worked at Tippecanoe Place in South Bend. Casini, who isn’t professionally trained, makes all of the desserts. The most popular items on the menu are prime rib and fresh seafood, says Casini.

“People really like the way we fix the prime rib,” she says. “It’s slow roasted. We buy only choice or better grade meat, and it has to have a certain age to it. That helps the
flavor a lot.”

The extensive menu also serves up lobster and salmon, whitefish, sea bass, and steaks, all of which are hand cut by the Portofino staff.

“We also have a full bar, wine list and martini list,” says Casini. “We make our own Bloody Mary mix, and we have a good variety of quality wines, both red and white.”

Appetizers average around $7, and a tab for a dinner for four is about $100. For lunch, a sandwich is between $7 and $11; add a drink and an entrée, and the tab is $20.

“When the weather is nice, customers have the option of sitting on our deck that overlooks the golf course,” says Casini. “What describes us best is our consistency. The consistency of our food and service is what brings people back; at least that’s what they tell us.”

While the menu has lots of variety, Casini says Portofino’s is constantly trying new things. “We have to keep evolving in order to keep up with the times.”

Portofino’s is at:

3233 N. State Rd. 39
LaPorte, IN 46350

Phone: (219) 325-8541

Hours are:

Monday through Thursday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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