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Epicurina Insight: Portabella Bistro, Bali

Consistent with what Howard Schulze set out when he operated the first branch of Starbucks, Portabella Bistro in Bali sets to offers enchanting eating experience instead of good food alone. Portabella Bistro aims to indulge all of your senses to feel the Italian Bistro experience, hence the meticulous attention to details and the huge efforts involved in the process of providing the sparkling experience, including bringing the chairs straight from Italy to further enhance the experience of authenticity.

The Sensory Indulgence


Right upon your entrance to the dining area you will be greeted by the familiar rustic scent of old wood; those that you encounter during a visit to your lovely granny's house back in the rustic village. While it's true that most of the interior are dominated with wood, this scent according to Billy Wirawan, one of the masterminds behind Portabella Bistro, and Fontana hotel Bali respectively, comes from the front door and the chairs used in the room. What’s with the front door? It’s a stunning collage of different pieces of wood put together into a new use; Eco-friendly design at its best. You can still see parts of old mechanical locking hand attached to a part of the collage, standing as a testament of what it used to be.


Beside of the front door, at the center of the dining area are different sets of old dining chairs which according to Finy Wirawan, the other mastermind behind Portabella Bistro, each hold interesting background story. What's a more amazing fact perhaps, are those chairs that are over 100 years old, and still looking perfect! They are the product of European chair masters hence while looking humble, the details are quite interesting. Most of their parts are carved out from a single piece of wood, including its arched back.

While Portabella Bistro is brand new, the passion for heritage plays a huge part in Portabella Bistro’s setup. Beside of the front door to the bistro, many of the hotel’s lobby decors were coming from Java in a form of a whole house! Stripped down to be used as part of Fontana Hotel where Portabella Bistro resides. 


On the Portabella Bistro wall, there are many curious items to indulge yourself into: rustic icons of the past, clips of newspaper from the World War I, vintage working tools, and displayed on the wall among other interesting memorabilia, is one familiar puppet who often associated with truthfulness (or the lack of it): Pinocchio. And more than just an ornament, Pinocchio secretly sets the direction of Portabella Bistro’s atmosphere, including the wood-dominant interior, items displayed on the wall, including photographic concept used in its menu, and website. This place is literally full with hidden stories to discover; hence I think it makes sense that Billy seeing his Fontana Hotel as an art gallery. 

All of the items displayed on the wall are the fruit of both Billy and Finy's adventure where they handpicked each and every one of them then restore them from whatever old and weathered conditions they were in. So it's not an overstatement to say that Billy and Finy really pours their heart and soul into making this experience orchestra happens.

Should you prefer an open-air experience, Portabella Bistro also provides two level outdoor seating: on the ground towards the swimming pool; and on the raised patio with a romantic setting, under the watchful dramatic face of Portabella Bistro's iconic puppet girl, who perhaps is a distant nephew of Pinocchio. 


Shot by a professional fashion photographer, the puppet girl also appears in Portabella Bistro's menu and website, which stands as a proof that Portabella Bistro doesn't want to stop in providing unique interior design alone.

As a duet between Popo Danes and former Super Potato's designer Nobuyuki Narabayashi, the hotel provides a good playground for Billy & Finy to express their idea of a good bistro, including in meticulously hand-picked the entire menu, and bringing the chef from Naples, Italy to ensure that you get the best of Classical Italian cuisine.

The Eating Experience 

A master of Classical Italian cuisine, Vittorio Negri was born in Naples, Italy, and then developed his career in Tuscany, London, Abu Dhabi, and finally Koh Samui in Thailand before settling his foot in Bali.

Aiming for a perfect hit, Chef Vittorio Negri cook the menus consolidated in Portabella Bistro using original Italian spices, then further enhancing it for a stronger, palatable taste to regional appetite while still maintaining its originality. 

Chef Vittorio Negri also shares a same vision of Italian cooking with Billy and Finy: that in the heart of Italian cuisine lies a simple happiness. Because while it’s true that Italian cuisine might take laborious preparation, it offers enjoyment that’s easy to discern by common people.

Take for example the Ossobuco served with Milanese Risotto using genuine (and plentiful) saffron, which resulted in its unique aromatic with slight metallic taste risotto; a good match for the tender juicy veal shank that represent what Ossobuco is.

The Calzone Ripieno further provides a good example of this simple happiness tenet; crunchy on the outside, rich with cheese on the inside, it's quite an easy to like treat, especially for those pizza bellies.

The Risotto Porcini has this creamy flavor in between the strong lingering aroma of fresh Porcini mushroom, a perfectly mellow treat. 

The slow cooked Beef Cheeks offers an interesting choice; while it has rough, coarse grain, but it’s cooked until achieving a tender consistency, with a strong beef taste leaning towards the taste of tongue. Served on top of mash potato, it helps toning down the strong beef taste. While it's might not be everyone's dishes due to its unique taste, surely it ranked high on my personal favorite list.


As starter, the Italian Cheese Pie offers this rich cheesy mound, similar with Yorkshire pudding only with much richer and stronger cheese taste. The Vegetarian Platter offers several interesting ingredients like artichoke heart, olives, and sundried tomatoes.   

The Mint Green Tea & White Chocolate Lava Cake provides a sweet closure to the hearty dinner. You can also find various other desserts here including the classic Tiramisu.


Portabella Bistro also offers various kinds of cocktails, including wine. Another strong point here is the Coffee which is specially designed for Fontana Hotel. While the coffee at Portabella is good, for a more artisan blend feel free to visit Portabella Bistro's sister next door: Sunny 16 Café which opens 24 hours. Filled with books, desserts, and good drinks, Sunny 16 excels in offering a very reasonable price as well. 

After the meal, or while waiting for your food to arrive, have a look around this chic and interesting hotel full with hidden stories, like where the rest of the whole wooden house gets to become, the rustic old barber chairs coming from Vietnam, a working zoetrope machine, or the old typewriter used by Italian notorious leader, Benito Mussolini. (byms)

For more information about Portabella Bistro please contact:


Portabella Bistro

Jl. Dewi Sri No. 68

Kuta - Bali, Indonesia 80361

T. +62 361 8947002

F. +62 361 8947123 



T. +62 361 8947002

F. +62 361 8947123


Fontana Hotel

Jl. Dewi Sri No. 68

Kuta - Bali, Indonesia 80361

T. +62 361 8947100

F. +62 361 8947123 



T. +62 361 8947100

F. +62 361 8947123 



T. +62 361 8947100

F. +62 361 8947123 


Photos are courtesy and copyright of Portabella Bistro unless stated otherwise.

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About Epicurina

Epicurina is maintained by Bayu Amus, a gastronomic storyteller and Food Experience designer. He pens food articles for travel magazines, speaks on food events, and was part of Makansutra Indonesia 2013 team. Contact him through

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