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Porto Restaurant & Bar Opens at Former Laprete's Location

Eatery fills vacant spot on busy Washington Avenue

Porto Restaurant & Bar, which opened on Friday, Oct. 7 and will have a Grand Opening on Thursday, Oct. 20, was needed in Belleville.

The spot, 369 Washington Avenue, had been home to numerous eateries, and was vacant. You can’t have that on your main business artery.

“I think it’s very important to try to have businesses on a thoroughfare or major street,” says co-owner Bill Escott, who understands well the concern first hand and has addressed it. He was a Commander of Detectives for the township of Belleville (retired in 1994), sat on the Township Council from 1996 to 2004, and served three terms as mayor (1999, 2000 and 2001). “It’s not a good thing on a major street to have empty shops.”

Escott’s partner in Porto is Executive Chef Carlos Lopes. They met when Escott was Mayor and Lopes was a Maitre d’ at a local eatery and was trying to open his own food establishment in Belleville. Escott came to his aid. The resulting restaurant? Solar Do Minho.

“Solar Do Minho is my reputation,” says Lopes. “I have experience in the business; I’ve been a chef all my life.” Lopes has a number of meat and seafood signature dishes, and is especially fond of his ribeyes and pork chops. “It’s a nice combination (Portuguese and Italian food). I love it.”

Porto is named after the area in Portugal where Lopes grew up, and "it’s also the home of port wine,” says Escott. The rustic themed decor restaurant has a gorgeous, active bar area which is still cozy enough to offer private, raised tables in a few spots, as well as a great dining and tiny private meeting\party areas. Overall, Porto Restaurant & Bar can accommodate 140 people. “We’re trying to come in with reasonable prices with food and drink,” says Escott.

There is no shortage of choices on the menu, including the ever popular rodizio, a variety of seafood offerings like shrimp, and well as paella, ribeyes and other steaks, as well classic pastas, veal and chicken. Prices range $18.00 - $24.00.

“We hope to bring to Belleville a spot where people can have a nice dinner (or a drink) and sit down in a comfortable atmosphere,” says Bill Escott. “People are staying local in the economy.”

“I think the place is ideal. It’s a nice size.”

Valet parking is available Wednesday – Sunday. Private parties available.

Porto Restaurant & Bar, 369 Washington Avenue, Belleville, (973) 450-4600, www.Portorestaurante.com

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