When thinking of the best Italian restaurants in NYC, Melrose doesn’t exactly come to mind, until now.
Primed right on East 161st Street - less than a half mile from Yankee Stadium, Porto Salvo is bringing exquisite, southern Italian cuisine to the borough in never-before-done style.
“This area is a food desert and we intend to change that,” said Mark Lu, co-owner of Porto Salvo. “We’re bringing Italian food like you would get in Brooklyn or Manhattan to the south Bronx for the first time,” Lu added.
When Lu moved into Via Verde on Melrose Avenue six years ago he realized that the area’s cuisine didn’t excel past KFC or McDonalds.
After success with two uptown restaurants in Manhattan, Lu saw an opportunity to bring culinary justice to the south Bronx…and that he did.
The nautically-themed wine bar was voted 8th best in NYC by TimeOut since it’s 2017 opening. Naturally, the upscale cuisine focuses towards seafood, but Porto Salvo has a menu that’s rapidly evolving.
“This isn’t where you get grandma’s meatballs, this is where you will actually taste Italy,” said executive chef and fellow co-owner Luigi Ghidetti. “We travel and we evolve the menu constantly and of course we’ve tweaked it to have a touch of the south Bronx as well,” Ghidetti added while mentioning his favorite current menu item is the Octopus Carpaccio.
Lu and Ghidetti travel the world in search of new flavors and inspirations to add to their south Bronx cucina.
The duo is currently in New Dheli, India to experiment with spices to incorporate for Porto Salvo.
Even the restaurant’s name and appearances are both reminiscent of the southern Mediterranean atmosphere that influenced Ghidetti for 30 years.
“We are here to make the Bronx better and bring food diversity to the area, this is our home and we take pride in this,” said Lu.
Both Lu and Ghidetti also held out their idea of a ‘restaurant row’ coming to that area of East 161st Street. “It would definitely be a future goal,” they said.