Why Small Businesses Matter in Bethel: Portofino Restaurant and Wine Bar

Why Small Businesses Matter

Shop small, do big things for your community

Why Small Businesses Matter puts a spotlight on the local merchants who donate their time, talent, goods, and services for the betterment of our community. The shop local movement spreads virally as local businesses who are “tagged” have the opportunity to share their story!

You're IT Portofino Restaurant and Wine Bar!

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

Why did you start your business?

Portofino Restaurant and Wine Bar is family-owned and operated by brothers Rocco and Lou Selmani. We grew up with a love for food. We enjoy being in the restaurant business and using our culinary skills to offer a great dining experience to our customers. We opened in Bethel, CT in 2011; but our food service and restaurant history go back to a much earlier time. Before Bethel, we owned Portofino in Wolcott, CT for many years.

We’ve always liked 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 difficulties we have all faced in the last two years.

What is your best-selling product/service?

Our best-selling food dishes are pasta, seafood, and steak. Some of our customer’s favorites are Tagliatelle Bolognese, Pan Seared Wild King Salmon, and Grilled Marinated Angus Skirt Steak, just 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 supported by many, too. See a sampling 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, CT
- Caraluzzi’s Bethel Food Market
- Greenwood Features Movie Theater (We have a video ad of Portofino showing on-screen before the movie begins)

Have you "reimagined" your small business?

Like many local businesses, we have “reimagined” our food and service strategies to accommodate the last two years of pandemic and we continue to offer many of them still today. We stayed open for business as much as we could. We partnered with Grub Hub, Vroom, and Door Dash for delivery. We offered beer, wine, and pre-packaged cocktails to go with food orders when the State of CT allowed us to. We built a covered, heated outdoor dining patio to accommodate the safety of our guests.

We began offering a Cheese Pizza Special and Family Meals-To-Go. We added “Slice” to our delivery services options, too. Last but not least, we decided to venture into offering the entire restaurant/bar for weddings and events of 75 to 100 people. We have had some wonderful events here, since then.

We are still offering the above food and service options, and recently made arrangements with Door Dash to deliver bottles of wine with food orders. Portofino is cross-promoting on social media and with other local businesses. We recently had a video ad produced and being viewed by moviegoers at the new Greenwood Features Movie Theater. We will continue to “reimagine” our business to make sure we can offer our customers the best dining experience possible.

Lou would like to nominate Caraluzzi's Bethel Food Market to be featured next!

Portofino Restaurant and Wine Bar is located at 213 Greenwood Ave. (Dolan Plaza) in Bethel. Visit Portofino Restaurant and Wine Bar online here, and make sure to check out their Facebook and Instagram pages as well!

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