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Cafe Porta Alba

Update: Cafe Porta Alba has moved to Hilldale.

In a word: New Neapolitan nosh nook nets notice.

The specs: #0221
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews: Isthmus 1/4/07, 6/10/08, 1/8/10; Yelp, Welcome to my Pantry, Christopher Robin's Fresh Foods, Fearful Symmetries, Dane101, Gregor the Cat, Driftless Appetite: 11/15/09, 7/4/10, Ruppert Food Blog, Onion AV Club, Table Talk with the owners; official web site, Cafe Porta Alba on Urbanspoon

Latest Cafe Porta Alba news and reviews

JM ate the Margherita con Prosciutto with a Sprite.
John ate the Margherita con Salame with a glass of wine.
Judith ate the Funghi with a glass of wine.
John and Judith split the Emiliana salad.
Nichole ate the pizza Napoletana with a Coke.
We also got a piece of tiramisu, slice of chocolate mousse cake and 2 espressos.
The bill was about $80, or $20/person, plus tip.
John and Judith gave Cafe Porta Alba an A+; JM and Nichole gave Cafe Porta Alba an A (see our grading rubric).

Cafe Porta Alba lives where Butler Cafe used to be, in a small ground floor space under some downtown condos. The dining room has been made smaller by the addition of the star of the cafe, the wood fired pizza oven that cooks pies in moments. (By the time you read to this point, it would have cooked an entire pizza.)

We couldn't resist starting with some sodas in cute 8-oz. bottles. The concept turned out to be better than the execution, since the carbonation all fizzled out when our server poured the drinks over ice. And that's about all we have to say that's critical of Cafe Porta Alba (beware: fawning ahead, which we guess could use a DEER CROSSING sign).

Coke and Sprite

John and Judith, regulars at the cafe, tried the Salad Emiliana, which was full of fresh greens and lots of lovely parmesan shavings. Between us, we sampled about a third of the pizza offerings, sadly not including pizza Bambino (yum, fresh babies).

JM's margherita con proscuitto was very good.  Substantially flavored but light on the stomach, the pizza's overall quality was very high. If you don't expect normal, middle of the road American pizzas (or round ones either), appreciating these instead for their own merits, you'll have a wonderful time.

Anchovy pizza

Nichole found it's best to eat the pizza fast, when it's right out of the oven. The pizza Napolitano was a very hostiptable introduction to anchovies, those wonderful salty little fishies. Future encouters with anchovies are definitely called for.

Salami pizza

John got the salame pizza with genoa salami. He called it an absolutely perfect blend of tastes - the crust, the fresh mozzarella, the tomatoes and the salame, with just a little basil. The crust was superb, we all agreed.

Mushroom pizza

Pizza con funghi, Judith's choice, was also delicious, with a nice amount of very tender and flavorful mushrooms.

For dessert, we had to pass up several choices including grandmother cake (now with 50% more grandma!) and nutella pizza. The tiramisu and chocolate mousse cake turned out to be winners, though.

Tiramisu

John and Judith had (repeatedly) missed out on the tiramisu on their previous visits, but luck was with us tonight. Creamy and light, sweet but not cloying, the tiramisu was rich, decadent and delicious.

Chocolate mousse cake

The chocolate mousse cake was light and very chocolatey. Our desserts were complemented by a great espresso. Yahm, is all we can say.

Comments

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The tiramisu there is amazing. I think I might go back sometime and just get an espresso and some tiramisu. My girlfriend and I split one and we barely spoke while we were eating it.

You are making me drool and I just ate lunch! I love trying out pizza places, and that one seems more authentically Italian than, say, Pizza Extreme.

I'm always looking for great pizza. Could eat it every night. No joke.
We'll try this place very soon.

This place is my absolute favorite restaurant. I've eaten there ~20 times in the past 6 months (that number would be much higher if I lived closer) and I can honestly say they couldn't possibly do a better job. Bravo Cafe Porta Alba!

This place is absolutely delicious. The pizza tastes fresh and healthy (can you even say that about pizza?), the flavors play in your mouth in ways that cannot be accomplished by other pizzas smothered with sauce. My only regret is that the friend I went with did not feel like dessert...the Nutella Pizza was calling my name. Alas, we shall meet again.

Have to agree with what's been said already, Cafe Porta Alba is a great little place. Went with a friend recently, we split the antipasta, I had a pizza margherita with prosciutto, friend had the same but with anchovies. The only negative was that I kept catching whiffs of anchovy breath from across the table. Everything else was wonderful.

Quote "pizza Napolitano was a very hostiptable introduction to anchovies, those wonderful salty little fishies. Future encouters with anchovies are definitely called for." Great!
If only a lot more people would delve into the taste of anchovies with their food I bet most of them would agree with you and want to go back for more. Personally I feel that anchovies MAKE a pizza.

I'd say that Porta Alba has better pizza than most similar-style Naploli pizza places, and even a few pies I had traveling in Italy a few years ago (though I didn't make it to Naples). They're serious about the authenticity of their pizza here! The 'Regina' is a standout, and the basic margarita is delish. I find it strange that some people complain that it's expensive. I guess if you're comparing the prices to Pizza Pit then maybe... but they're only the same food in description. Two can leave full here for around $20 before tip. How is that expensive?

Absolutely a great deal. Consider the insanely short wait, the high-quality ingredients, and the nice atmosphere. $10 or so for a personal pizza isn't bad at all. Of course it's more expensive than Little Caesar's.

For the record (since it'll be a while before our intrepid diners make it there), Pizza Brutta on Monroe does a fine job, too.

Our new favorite restaurant. Lives up to its ratings. The Pizza Napolitana was excellent... mild anchovy flavor, soft but not soggy crust, and fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. They didn't take credit cards though, due to a "broken machine" so be prepared to pay cash.

Cafe Porta Alba will be closed beginning March 29th. They say they are looking for another location, let us hope that they find one. Quickly.

Their website says that the new future location will be in Hilldale.

Hilldale? Wow - that's great news! a) that it's really coming back and b) that it'll be closer to my house!

I absolutely love CPA. I can't wait for them to open again.

Wait no longer, Leslie. According to their Facebook page, they reopened on 11/1. Go forth, and eat pizza. Mangia!

Just in case anyone is wondering, it's still every bit as good as it was.

I'd venture to say even a little better; our pizzas last week were much less sogged out in the middle than in the past.

I went there last night. This was this first time I visited their new location. At their old location, I thought their pizza was close to perfect...they just needed to lose the slight sogginess in the middle.

My alpina pie was perfect last night. The crust was so fresh. There was no sogginess. Perfect ratio of toppings to crust.

We dined outdoors for the first time at Cafe Porta Alba last night--it was too gorgeous out there not to.

Allegra pizza (mushrooms, truffle oil, mascarpone) was a terrific white. It could have used slightly better topping dispersal, but this is the hallmark of a pizza made by hand; I'm not really complaining, just wishing. The taste was earthy and just a little sweet.

The house antipasto plate was a tremendous amount for not a tremendous amount, if you catch my meaning. Great components, in ample supply, and for a very respectable cost.

We gave in to the Nutella pizza for the first time, after being told that they now served it in "bambino" proportions since the original was perhaps oppressively large. It was a pure delight--but be careful about breathing in right as you bite. There's a lot of cocoa and powdered sugar on top, as my wife's mini coughing fit would testify.

The crescent moon watched over our meal above the newly-reopened Sundance rooftop restaurant, getting hazier as it sunk. It was a perfect date.

I went here for Mother's Day (I think). Unfortunately of the three entrees we ordered, none of them really stuck out. They were all pretty bland. We did split a margharita pizza which was great, except there were maybe two small basil leaves on top of it. Same with my mother's pasta, it said "with basil" and only came with one leaf on top. It would be nice if they would be a little more liberal with the ingredients, especially ones that are center pieces of the dish. That said, I would probably go back for the pizza. Maybe take out.

Jeanette,

The basil is really just there for the aroma. If you're looking for something leafier, I'd suggest getting your margharita with argula, which they cover the pizza with after cooking.

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