By Sarah Coyne
As the days start to heat up, it is that time of year when we are looking for the perfect outdoor location to eat. Look no further than Porto Antico restaurant in Coral Bay, open for business for nearly a year and going from strength to strength. It is just past Coral Bay, sitting very close to the sea affording any outside diner the most amazing views across the bay.
The restaurant is in an old carob warehouse which has been beautifully restored by the Arapi family. Porto Antico was a mission for the family to reflect their Cypriot heritage and show the traditions of this Cypriot building.
The restaurant offers both an extensive outside terrace and a very stylish indoor area. The interior is decorated with photos of the building before its restoration. They show the history of a building used as a base for exporting carobs across the sea by boat. The outside area offers the most incredible views across the sea from its clifftop location.
Today with a large team of staff, the building has a new purpose as a restaurant and bar. The menu is extensive and changes according to the season, and there is also a daily special. What is different about the menu is that it offers an alternative take on the more traditional dishes which we are used to experiencing.
We started with a large sharing plate of Hummus and Smoked Fish. This was two dishes of hummus, one flavoured with beetroot and the other with spinach. They had very different tastes and were served with a small smoked fish on the top with truffle oil and toasted pitta. The combinations worked beautifully, and it was a very generous portion to share between two.
For our main courses, we went our separate ways. There is an extensive selection of salads, homemade pasta, steaks and duck, more meat dishes, fish and seafood and a snack menu of burgers and sandwiches. Ignoring the recommendation of Lamb Chops, which is their most popular dish, we went for a Ravioli dish and Fritti Calamari.
The Forest Mushroom Ravioli was an unusual combination of flavours, but it worked. The mouth-watering mushroom ravioli was served with a creamy blue cheese sauce which the chef had enriched with truffle oil. It was excellent but was certainly enhanced and lightened by the addition of some of my dining partner’s side salad.
He had selected a large dish of Fritti Calamari which was 250g of whole squid cut into rings. He declared this to be one of the best calamari dishes he had experienced as it was light and dry. Most of the main courses at Porto Antico come with the choice of two side dishes, which include locally sourced fries, mashed potato, wild grain rice, side salad or steamed vegetables – it is nice to have a choice. The chips, like the calamari, were dry, and the salad was fresh and varied with lots of ingredients covered in a balsamic dressing. On the side, two dips of tartare and sweet chilli sauce were served.
The restaurant also has an extensive list of wines which are served by the very charming Sommelier/ Manager Christina Arapi. Christina has studied for her professional exams and is working on the wine list, which currently includes 70 labels. She is looking to introduce more Cypriot and Greek wines in the future. To have an expert with her wine knowledge is not to be underestimated as she is happy to advise on the pairing of food from the menu with her wine list to complete the whole dining experience at Porto Antico.
Having experienced this restaurant on several occasions, I am very sure that this carob warehouse has a long and happy future in its new incarnation as a restaurant par excellence.
SPECIALTY Modern international and Greek cuisine
WHERE Porto Antico, Throniou tis Panagias 9, Coral Bay, Peyia
WHEN everyday except Thursday 11am-11pm. Last orders 10pm
CONTACT 26 221900