It had been awhile since we had dined at one of our favorite restaurants in Center City, Porta. They are known for their Neopolitian pizzas, and they are delicious. The pizza ovens were built and imported from Naples, and trust me when I say, you can taste the difference. The ovens cook at a much higher temperature so the pizzas cook much faster.
I highly suggest you go during their happy hour, which starts at 4pm, if you are sitting at one of the bars. Yes, they have two wonderful bars. We like sitting at the smaller bar that you will see when you first walk in. It just seems cozier, and more quant to us. They always have four featured cocktails on the happy hour menu, and wonderful food specials. They include, a meatball slider, fried polenta, fried mozzarella, and a “Many Thanks” slider. All of the happy hour food specials are delicious. You will absolutely fall in love with their mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, which are home-made everyday.
I started with one of the cocktail specials, the “Song of Solomon”. It is made with Bulleit rye, vanilla syrup, lemon juice, fig puree, black pepper, and a lemon twist. It was fantastic. Such a complex, yet wonderful compliment of flavors that just worked so well together. Eric ordered the “Family Orchard”. It was made with Sailor Jerry spiced rum, Applejack, mulled syrup, apple butter, and black walnut bitters. It was so good! The perfect cocktail for a chilly winter evening.
Our good friend and general manager, Taylor, told us of a new appetizer item that we had to try. It was their acorn squash, which was fire roasted, and served with house made ricotta, Calabrian chile honey, extra virgin olive oil, and ciabatta. Folks, this was beyond amazing! It was absolutely delicious. We ate the entire squash, skin and all. The honey and ricotta tasted so good with the acorn squash. When you go to Porta, this is a must. Thank you Taylor for treating us to this wonderful appetizer!
We decided to try something new that we hadn’t had before, the filet mignon carpaccio. The dish consists of thinly sliced filet mignon, arugula, Piave, and cracked black pepper. It’s simple, light, and fantastic. The filet mignon is placed on top of the arugula. You get the the bitterness of the arugula, the wonderful texture of the filet, and the taste of the Piave cheese all together. It is delicious.
When at Porta, you have to order a pizza. We got our favorite, the “Italian Stallion”. It’s made with San Marzano tomatoes, house-made mozzarella, gorgonzola, house-made Italian sausage, and long hots. Do you see why it’s one of our favorites? It has the right amount of heat and flavor. It’s a pizza you definitely have to try.
Along with our wonderful pizza, we ordered two more cocktails. I got the “Queen Nadine”, which is made with Bulleit rye or Bombay Sapphire gin, Fernet Branca, blood orange juice, and powdered sugar. Eric ordered “What Time Is It Now”, which was made with Hudson Baby bourbon, ginger liqueur, pear puree, agave, thyme, and candied ginger. Both drinks were amazing. We love how creative the cocktails are at Porta. They put a lot of time and effort into them and it really shows.
Unknowingly, this was a bittersweet visit to Porta. We learned from Taylor that she was transferring to Porta’s North New Jersey restaurant in a couple of weeks. We were so sad to hear she was leaving but also very happy for her. She’s from that area and was looking forward to going home. She has done an incredible job at the Philadelphia location, and we have no doubt that she will be just as successful, if not more, in her new endeavor. We promised that we’d take a trip up there and see her. Good luck Taylor! We’ll miss you!