Chef Justin Engineri is on the rise of becoming a culinary genius in the Capital Region and is showing his skills at the new restaurant, Portofino’s. The modern Italian style restaurant held a grand opening ceremony earlier in September and is currently serving pizzas and other great classic Sicilian style dishes.
Owners Anthony Adonnino, Michael and Louis Bennice, also owners of Home Style Caterers in Schenectady, have been in the business longer than Chef Engineri has been alive. This year Chef Engineri recieved the award of Rising Star Chef of Albany and was featured at this year’s Wine and Dine Festival.I wanted to find more about the new Rising Star Chef winner and his Latham new restaurant, so I asked him a few questions.
- How did the restaurant get the name “Portofino’s”?
When deciding the name it was easier to acquire our liquor license quicker if we kept the previous owners name. It also made sense since we were planning a menu based on modern Italian food. So we kept the original name.
- What is your favorite item on the menu?
I’m a little biased coming from a New England culinary background, so I will always gravitate towards seafood. Our Yellowfin tuna or Scallops however prepared are always a great choice. While we have a very strong Chicken dish with polenta and truffles and our Pancetta Carbonara is a great seller as well.
- What was the greatest moment in your culinary career, so far?
I’ve done a few radio, TV, newspaper and cooking shows. It was really rewarding to receive the rising star chef award from albany wine and dine, which was vote based. So the support I had was incredibly humbling.
- How long have you been into culinary arts?
I have been in this industry for about 16 years.
- Who is your favorite chef?
I have always been a big fan of Ferran Ardian.
- If you could describe Portofino’s in one word, what would it be?
- Do you plan on expanding the restaurant in the near future?
Yes, we hope to continually improve and modernize our brand, decor and look. We are branching out to parties, looking to do luncheons, showers, banquets and weddings in house.
- What was the most challenging dish you have ever created?
Remodeled andoullie lobster bisque with Andoullie foam, homemade lobster caviar.
- What do you enjoy doing when you’re not in the kitchen?
I try to spend as much time as I can with my 2 incredible children if I’m not cooking. We like to play music, read or enjoy the outdoor as much as we can as a family.
- What inspires you to create your dishes?
I read a lot and think of how can I improve on this or put my own twist on dishes or classics