Portofino Restaurant and Wine Bar

Why small businesses matter

Buy small, do big things for your community

Why Small Businesses Matter shines a light on local business owners who volunteer their time, talent, goods and services for the benefit of our community. The local shop movement is spreading virally as local businesses that are “tagged” have the opportunity to share their story!

You are IT Portofino Restaurant and Wine Bar!

Four questions for Lou Selmani, co-founder of Portofino Restaurant and Wine Bar.

Why did you start your business?

Portofino Restaurant and Wine Bar is a family business operated by brothers Rocco and Lou Selmani. We grew up with a love for food. We love being in the restaurant business and using our culinary skills to provide a great dining experience for our customers. We opened in Bethel, CT in 2011; but the history of our food service and restaurants goes back a long way. Prior to Bethel, we owned Portofino in Wolcott, CT for many years.

We have always loved the Bethel area, so when we closed Wolcott we decided to open Portofino Restaurant and Wine Bar in Bethel. We chose Dolan Plaza because the space was already set up for a restaurant and there is great parking. We love the Bethel vibe and the people are so supportive, even with the challenges we’ve all faced over the past two years.

What is your best-selling product/service?

Our best-selling dishes are pasta, seafood and steak. Some of our customer favorites are tagliatelle bolognese, seared wild salmon and grilled marinated Angus skirt steak, to name a few.

How many local businesses do you use to support your business (products and services) and can you name them?

We support many local businesses and are also supported by many. See a sample below. We are very grateful for all the support we have received from our community and will continue to support them as well.

– Ace Hardware, Bethel CT
– Varano Bakery, Bethel, Connecticut
– Bethel food market in Caraluzzi
– Greenwood Features Movie Theater (We have a video commercial of Portofino playing on screen before the movie starts)

Have you “reinvented” your small business?

Like many local businesses, we have “re-imagined” our catering and service strategies to deal with the last two years of the pandemic and we continue to offer them today. We stayed open for business as much as we could. We’ve partnered with Grub Hub, Vroom, and Door Dash for delivery. We offered pre-packaged beer, wine and cocktails to go with food orders when the state of CT permitted. We have built a covered and heated outdoor terrace to accommodate the safety of our customers.

We started offering special cheese pizza and take-out family meals. We have also added “Slice” to our delivery service options. Finally, we decided to embark on the offer of the entire restaurant / bar for weddings and events of 75 to 100 people. We have had wonderful events here since then.

We still offer the above dining and service options and have recently made arrangements with Door Dash to deliver bottles of wine with food orders. Portofino cross-promotes on social media and with other local businesses. We recently had a video ad produced and viewed by moviegoers at the new Greenwood Features Cinema. We will continue to “reinvent” our business to ensure that we can provide our customers with the best dining experience possible.

Lou would like to propose the Bethel Food Market of Caraluzzi to be presented next!

Portofino Restaurant and Wine Bar is located at 13 Greenwood Avenue (Dolan Plaza) in Bethel. Visit Portofino Restaurant and Wine Bar online here, and be sure to check out their Facebook and Instagram pages too!

HamletHub thanks Fairfield County Bank for making our Why Small Businesses Matter series possible!

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