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Porto’s shows lighter side with new salads

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Porto’s will be introducing two salads, including an arugula pesto pasta salad, to its menu this summer. It’s part of the restaurant and bakery’s push to include healthier options on its menu.
(Courtesy of Pali Wine Co.)

Porto’s Bakery & Cafe is known for less-than-light fare, such as fried mashed potato balls and flaky pastries filled with cheese and guava.

However, behind the scenes there’s been an almost imperceptible shift to push the Glendale mainstay in a healthier direction by using natural ingredients and cutting sugar when possible, according to head chef Tony Salazar.

“Eating healthy is … the future, and we want to be part of that,” Salazar said of the cooking team behind the Cuban bakery and restaurant.

Those efforts will come to the forefront with the introduction of two new salads this summer.

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One, an arugula pesto pasta salad, features pasta shells tossed with pesto, artichoke hearts, piquillo peppers, roasted cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives and arugula.

The other, a farro salad, includes Italian grains with cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, pepperoncini, piquillo peppers, kalamata olives, garbanzo beans, provolone cheese and red-wine vinaigrette.

The restaurant also recently introduced an all-natural carrot ginger soup for the spring and summer season, said Jennifer Wells, a marketing manager for Porto’s.

“All the chefs in research and development are committed to going light and healthy,” said Salazar, adding that the team worked on the salads for about six months.

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Still, the team isn’t abandoning its sugar-inclined clientele. A guava crème bruleé will soon join the restaurant’s dessert menu, Salazar said.

A tres leches cake with a mango-passion fruit compote currently only available at the West Covina location will be introduced at all locations, including Glendale, this summer, Wells said.

Porto’s will debut the new menu items during an event on Sunday in downtown Los Angeles, in conjunction with Pali Wine Co., prior to serving them in the chain’s restaurants.

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