Saturday, February 24, 2024

Where to find the best Italian seafood in St. Maarten

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Like many people, I first encountered St. Maarten when I was 14 years old on a half-day cruise on a giant ocean liner. While I certainly remember the island’s turquoise waters and cloudless blue skies, to say that is a serious understatement for all it has to offer is a serious understatement. did not do it.

I recently had the pleasure of returning to the Sonesta Resort on St. Maarten for a short weekend. Conveniently located just 5 minutes from the airport, this all-inclusive hotel features a 420-room family resort as well as a separate adults-only property called Ocean Point. We stayed at the latter, which has rooms about one-third the size of the former, which bears its name, and, more importantly, a lineup of restaurants that will keep you coming back for more. is.

While each of Ocean Point’s dining venues offered gastronomic and hospitality experiences, the one that most resonated with me was the one I ate at Portofino, the property’s answer to Italian-inspired cuisine with a focus on seafood. It was a meal. Opened in May 2022, Portofino offers a five-course menu, an extensive wine list, and best of all, outdoor seating along the shoreline of Maho Bay.

My partner and I started our meal with an expertly crafted gin martini and enjoyed it along with an appetizer course of an original Caprese salad made with creamy buffalo mozzarella, freshly sliced ​​tomatoes, pesto and tossed with oregano balsamic sauce. I did.

The starter course was followed by a clam and vegetable soup drizzled with pesto oil and a bottle of Domaine Jean d’Europe Petit Chablis. (The cream of kale soup was equally appealing, but following the restaurant’s signature dish, I opted for the seafood-forward option.)

Portofino’s main entrees are divided into two sections: pasta and meat. The former offers dishes such as lasagna bolognese, spaghetti Milanese with meatballs and spinach ravioli with ricotta, while the latter boasts rack of lamb with rosemary sauce, parmesan chicken and salmon carbonara. My partner and I ordered the same thing despite having lots of choices. Tagliatelle frutti di he mare with scallops, calamari, shrimp and black mussels braised in white wine, garlic, onions and Neapolitan sauce.

We were sure the seafood would be the star of the show, but what really surprised us was the pasta. Unlike the standard boxed pasta used in many resort restaurants, Portofino’s noodles are beautifully hand-rolled and have just the right amount of crunch, making them the perfect vessel for dipping the slightly sweet, seafood-flavored sauce.

I couldn’t finish my meal without having a bite of something sweet as I had very little time to spare. After much deliberation, I settled on tiramisu with coffee liqueur, mascarpone cheese, and berry coulis.

Our takeaway? Resort meals are generally not very memorable, but dining at Portofino promises to leave an unforgettable impression.

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