By Donna Schmidt, accompanied by Rob Schmidt
Driving into Tappan is like going back in time. Its charm is intoxicating with its historic buildings, cobblestone and brick streets and a feeling that a Dickens novel could certainly have been written here. Last night we went to Il Portico in Tappan. Housed in what was once a jewelry store from 1876-1882, it later became the Eggers Hotel in 1882. Weary travelers could get accommodations for 3 cents a night.
G. Peppe Pinton purchased the building 22 years ago and has been serving Northern Italian cuisine with a side of storytelling for all that time. Pinton is from Calabria and was once the owner of the Cosmos Soccer team. He sat with us telling us fascinating stories about different times in his life. Owning the Cosmos and working for Time Warner, coaching the Ramapo College soccer team, his two sons, running 17 soccer camps all over the world, managing several homes and five adorable, well groomed dogs.
In between listening and talking, my husband and I managed to eat. It takes more than that to stop us. I started with the Lentil Soup with spicy sausage. It was filled with fresh basil and did hit the spot and had just the right spice.
My husband had the smoked mozzarella ravioli with toasted peanuts, butter sage and champagne sauce. He seemed to enjoy it and left his plate clean.
For entrees I had the roasted Murray chicken with warm lentil salad and Dijon brandy.
My husband opted for the tilapia which was panko crusted with basil and lemon aioli.
For dessert, we split the tiramisu, skipped coffee and went right for a little Frangelica.
We took the other dessert home for our daughter. The dessert was creamy and sweet, just the right finish to a wonderful time in a comfortable atmosphere enjoying fascinating conversation with old and new friends.