An Old Town landmark, Il Porto has been serving up Florentine Italian cuisine for about 25 years. Big plates of fettuccine, lasagne and linguine cover the tables in this warm, cozy place. Exposed brick and dim lighting give it charm, and make it a regular spot for celebrations. In fact, the restaurant's pastry chef spends much of his time baking personalized birthday cakes. The building itself is also an attraction, albeit one with a checkered history. It was built by a retired sea captain who constructed the building to look like a ship and stocked it with his collected treasures. He was shot dead in the center of town, and since then the building has been home to an artist, a Nazi family, a butcher and an illegal distillery. But today the place just serves food, and the Alexandria business community flocks here. The corporate lunch crowd reserves tables days in advance. By night, tourists and locals fill the place and seem happy to pay $10 and $16 a plate. If you want some good homemade Italian food, this place is worth the money. - Hope Katz Gibbs
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