Porticello Ristorante owner and chef Mario Sanfilippo knows Italian cooking. Born in Porticello, Sicily and moving to Dorchester, MA with his family at age 10, his mother spent her time in the kitchen providing her family with homemade Italian meals for as long as he can remember. Not just meals, fabulous meals. In fact, when most kids dread what their parents might be prepping for dinner on any given night, Mario’s childhood friends would linger around the Sanfilippo home in hopes of being invited to stay for dinner because his mother’s cooking was so good.
In the kitchen is where Mario has always felt at home going back to when he was 12 years old and he started washing dishes in restaurants. By 14 he was making pizzas and by 15 he was a full-fledged cook.
After a short stint in banking with his degree in business and finance from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, Mario couldn’t resist the call and his love for cooking that was beckoning him back to the kitchen. In 1992 he opened his first restaurant, Mario’s, in Dorchester. In 1998 he opened Porticello, the restaurant bearing his birth town’s name, which has become a favorite with the crowds south of Boston. The original Mario’s in Dorchester has since been sold, allowing Mario to focus full-time on delighting the customers at Porticello Ristorante with his fine cooking.
We open for dinner at 5:00 PM, seven days a week. Inside the restaurant, diners sit comfortably in different areas separated by arched entryways decorated with soft, earth-tone colors, providing a warm Sicilian coastal feel. The cozy atmosphere features dark wood tables, white linens, and wine bottles used as decoration throughout.
The most authentic decor that has the ability to transport guests to another place comes in the form of the many seaside murals painted on the walls. The murals depict scenes based off real photographs from the Porticello coast, painted by a local artist.
Porticello, Sicily is known for its seafood dishes so it’s no surprise to find a number of seafood entrees on the menu. But Mario is not tied to one style of Sicilian or Italian cooking, which is apparent by other offerings such as the Tuscan style Bolognese sauce, featuring beef, veal, and pork, as well as the “American Italian” favorites including various parmesan and piccata choices.
Food critics and restaurant reviewers agree that meals such as the Scallops Risotto, Fra Diavolo Al Scoglio, and Filleto Gorgonzola deliver immense flavor and are prepared to perfection. The gnocchi and pappardelle, both created in-house, have been described as perfectly cooked.
From the first taste of the sauces, stocks, and stuffings that are all made in-house, to the final bite of the delectable desserts, Mario has brought inspired recipes from the coast of Sicily to southeastern MA. Come and taste a unique dining experience.