Milano’s Italian Restaurant
1559 Spinnaker Drive

Situated in the beautiful Ventura Harbor, Milano’s has a front-row view of the harbor, parallel to docked fishing boats. Upon entering Milano’s, you will find a welcoming modern bar. With four brews on tap and a liquor-filled shelf, one can imagine the concoction of craft cocktails that can be enjoyed here. Although no bartender was in sight, my companion and I were greeted with a warm smile as the hostess showed us our way to the booth.

As we sat and took in the ambience, we noticed that we had the inside of the restaurant to ourselves. Outside under the covered patio section, however, there were a number of filled tables with patrons enjoying that spectacular harbor view.

Milano’s offers a very intimate and comfortable setting with dim romantic lighting. The décor consists of a somewhat eclectic feel with framed posters hung against the brick interior walls. The layout and décor are simple, which I appreciate.

Chicken Portofino and eggplant Parmesan

As our server placed a basket full of rosemary focaccia bread accompanied by a side of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, she took our drink order. I opted for the Greg Norman pinot noir from Santa Barbara ($6.75).

For our appetizer selection, we went with the roasted clams ($10.25) prepared with applewood-smoked bacon, artichokes, chopped roma tomatoes and sprinkled with red pepper flakes.

Once our clams arrived an aroma of buttery, garlic seafood goodness filled the air, teasing our taste buds. At first glance I thought the order might have been a mistake as this appetizer was large enough to be considered a meal in itself. Generous portions! The clams sat in a savory clam-based broth that was delicious to enjoy as dipping sauce with the freshly baked sourdough bread that accompanied the dish. The clams were good — not nearly the chewy consistency that you might expect with clams. About halfway through the clams I found myself searching through the sea of clam sauce and artichokes for another piece of bacon, with no such luck.

For our entree selections, I decided to go with the eggplant Parmesan ($14.50) while my companion went with the chicken Portofino ($16.25). As with the generously portioned appetizer, the entrees were more than adequate. My eggplant took up half the plate and still managed to hang off the edges. As if the massive eggplant Parmesan weren’t enough, it came with a half-serving of spaghetti with Milano’s homemade marinara sauce. My first bite of the eggplant was warming. Still steaming from the oven, the breaded eggplant was complemented by the warm baked cheese and garlic from the sauce. The spaghetti was cooked perfectly, not too firm but not too soft either. The homemade marinara sauce was more on the sweeter side with a strong garlic bite.

Inside bar

The chicken Portofino was another mountain of a meal. With two chicken breasts covered in feta, bacon, tomatoes, capers and mushrooms, served next to a heap of broccoli, artichoke hearts sautéed in garlic called “Sicilian Veggies.” The chicken and bacon managed to grab most of my attention, but I didn’t get too much from the feta and mushrooms.

It was no question that we needed to box up the rest of our meals, but we were satisfied to say the least. Overall, Milano’s has managed to capture an Italian environment with generous family-sized entrees to match. The only thing missing was music with an Italian flare, perhaps some good ol’ Sinatra. The top-40 radio playing just didn’t quite fit the Italian theme.