FOOD & DRINK > RESTAURANT REVIEWS

Porto

By Phyllis Stein-Novack
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 8 | Posted Jan. 17, 2014

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The pancakes at Passyunk Square's Porto were the hot topic of conversation following a recent brunch outing.

Photo by Kathryn Poole

Caldo verde is the national soup of Portugal. It is made with shredded kale, potatoes, onions and sausages. I never heard of it until I received a copy of the “Food of Portugal” by Jean Anderson many years ago. At that time, it was the only cookbook on Portuguese cuisine published in English.

I heard about a new breakfast/lunch/brunch restaurant called Porto, and was pleasantly surprised to find this famous soup on the menu. Although I could eat a bowl of it at 11 a.m., I decided to take some home and see if this caldo verde would transport me to Portugal. 

Porto is located at 11th and Wharton streets. It fills the niche for those who hunger for pancakes and eggs on cold winter weekends. The sign still reads luncheonette, a marvelous word from my childhood that fills me with memories of inexpensive burgers or grilled cheese.

This was the location of Carman’s Country Kitchen, a funky place run by an eccentric woman with an attitude. The property retains the tin ceiling, old-fashioned cash register and is painted in sunny greens and yellows. The staff is about the nicest one will find anywhere. There are only about 18 seats, and when Edward and I arrived, we were fortunate to get the only open table. All through brunch there was a steady stream of regulars, which is a good sign.

Steaming mugs of La Colombe coffee ($2) were served in pretty yellow, green or brick-colored mugs. There are blackboard specials as well.

Porto serves some of the best pancakes in town. We are familiar with those malty kind of plastic looking hot cakes some diners pass off as the real deal. You can get any kind your heart desires. Chocolate chip ones have become favorites of ours since we first tasted them at the Hershey Hotel. Porto’s version ($10) consisted of three large, perfectly prepared, piping hot golden brown pancakes dusted with confectioners’ sugar. They were light and fluffy and certainly homemade. A scattering of berries was included, which was a nice surprise. 

Edward became hooked on scrapple ever since he fell for it at Kraftwork last year. Porto’s was well-seasoned and thinly sliced.

Unfortunately, my omelettes were just average. The chef did not whip the eggs properly. When they’re are beaten, no white should be visible. I ordered a cheese omelette made with Saint George, a cheese our server advised was a bit more sharp than sharp cheddar. My piping hot item was a bit overcooked. Although it was puffy, the outside was brown and not a glistening golden yellow. A side of thick slab of bacon ($3) was crisp and free of grease. I also liked the Jewish rye toast that I slathered with soft butter. Oven roasted potatoes tossed with roasted peppers and onions came with my brunch.

As I said, the staff at Porto has to be the nicest one will find anywhere in the city. A gentleman next to me, who was reading the Talmud, lives in the neighborhood and told us he eats brunch there every Sunday.

That evening, I looked forward to the caldo verde. I added a bit more stock to the pot and found the soup to be tasty, well-seasoned and comforting.

Porto serves an inexpensive brunch, which is getting more difficult to find in the city. The question is, “Would I return?” I think so. The pancakes were tops, so now I would like to try the French toast.

Two-and-a-half tips of the toque to Porto. 

Porto

1301 S. 11th St., at Wharton
215-555-1212

Contact the South Philly Review at editor@southphillyreview.com.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 8 of 8
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1. tlj said... on Jan 17, 2014 at 01:54PM

“Another screwy review. Not being not picking but if almost everything with the exception of the omelet was god wht 2 1/2 tips of the toque? It doesn't make any sense. You've reviewed places where your comments about the food and/or service and/or environment and/or lighting was not to your liking but they received a higher rating. Frankly this makes no sense.

I hope the soup does transport you back to Portugal ... our loss - their gain.

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2. Phyllis Phan said... on Jan 17, 2014 at 09:34PM

“What a Douche !!!!! I don't see how they pay her for these reviews!!! Maybe they should charge for the Review and get a real food critic !! Phyllis, NO SOUP FOR YOU !!!!! There's a hot dog cart outside Home Depot that needs to be reviewed. Bring Edweird and some Thunderbird.”

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3. Anonymous said... on Jan 23, 2014 at 02:48PM

“An of­fi­cer and a sand­wich
CRAIG LaBAN cla­ban@phillynews.com
The Philadelphia Inquirer
January 23, 2014

Christine Liskowicz had some big boots to fill when she opened Porto in the South Philly corner luncheonette formerly known as Carman’s Country Kitchen. And she’s done a fine job infusing this breakfast-luncher with the homey bi-ethnic spirit of her Portuguese and Polish fare, from handmade pierogi to the sauteed kale “migas” with black-eyed peas. The catchy “Yo Cuz” sandwich, though, is an homage to the luncheonette’s new clientele. Liskowicz welcomes policemen from the nearby Third District in her place — something her predecessor, the colorful Carman Luntz, refused to do. “Yo Cuz” is how one of Liskowicz’s delighted new customers would always greet her. So she honored him with a double fistful of comfort — a crisp chicken cutlet sandwiched between the puff of two bacon-cheddar waffles drizzled with jalapeño-maple yogurt butter. It’s one tasty mouthful of “Welcome to the neighborhood!” — Craig LaBan
Yo Cuz sandwich, $9, Porto, 1301 S. 11th St.,
267-928-3956.

Copyright © 2013 Interstate General Media L.L.C.

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4. tlj said... on Jan 23, 2014 at 02:54PM

“LOL ... just a crappy reviewer for a neighborhood newspaper. Candidly I think the readers are getting tired of this.

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5. Anonymous said... on Jan 23, 2014 at 05:07PM

“Looks like no review again this week. I get the feeling Phyllis is home complaining to Edward, with a Rob Roy and a greasy chicken wing and a "ramekin" of dipping sauce in hand, that she finally reviews a South Philly place and they STILL complain”

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6. Anonymous said... on Jan 23, 2014 at 08:50PM

“I miss Mary's and her easy to beat pinball machine. Yet another reincarnation on my old corner.”

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7. Anonymous said... on Jan 26, 2014 at 05:55PM

“You know what I liked least about this place when it was Carman's? Being asked to give her your name. That, and the bias for a certain demographic group. BLGT, TGLB, whatever it's called, leave the rest of us be.”

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8. Maria said... on Feb 22, 2014 at 04:23AM

“If I'm ever in Philly this is where I'll have lunch! What a pleasure to see the blue paint and PORTO over the door. Warms the heart of any Porto Football Club fan. Myself included.”

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