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Fire rips through Portofino Mediterranean Grill in Clearwater

The cause of Tuesday’s fire at Portofino Mediterranean Grill is being investigated.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

The cause of Tuesday’s fire at Portofino Mediterranean Grill is being investigated.

CLEARWATER — In the year that it's been open, Portofino Mediterranean Grill on U.S. 19 has become known for its generous portions and its huge menu. But if you call the restaurant now, an answering machine says, "Due to a fire, we will be closed until further notice."

A blaze ripped through the Greek and Italian restaurant early Tuesday. At one point, flames could be seen coming out of the roof.

A road construction worker called 911 just before 2 a.m. to report smoke emanating from the closed restaurant, officials said. Roughly 40 firefighters battled the fire, which took about 25 minutes to get knocked down, according to Clearwater Fire & Rescue.

It wasn't clear what sparked the blaze. As of Tuesday evening, the cause of the fire remained under investigation. Fire investigators also were working to compile a damage estimate.

Nobody was injured.

Portofino is at 18825 U.S. 19 N between Harn Boulevard and Nursery Road, in a strip mall location that was once the home of the original Hops Brewery.

It had been a couple of other restaurants since Hops departed. For the opening of Portofino, owner and executive chef Nick Polemis gutted the interior and redid it with a high-end feel.

Fire rips through Portofino Mediterranean Grill in Clearwater 01/31/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 7:59pm]

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