Eat. Drink. Be honest. How could you not love a place with that as their motto? I visited Porta’s Asbury Park location last night to celebrate a good friend of mine getting into grad school and while I have been there before, this time I was viewing it through a blogger’s eyes. But before I tell you about my experience there, here’s a little bit about the restaurant itself.
Porta opened in 2011 as an authentic Neapolitan pizza restaurant with locations in Asbury Park and Jersey City. They offer a small menu of appetizers, sandwiches, and of course, pizza, with mozzarella that is made fresh daily in-house. But on Friday and Saturday nights, the tables are removed and the place takes on a completely new vibe. The building looks somewhat like a warehouse inside, and features two main rooms (called the Porta side and the Abbot side) with two bars in each as well as a smaller room connecting them that has several flat screen TVs and a bar. Those who are interested in watching the latest sports action can usually be found in the smaller room.
The Porta side
I arrived around 10:45 because from past experience I have learned that Porta sometimes charges a $10 cover after 11pm. The line was around the building and the music could be heard from a block away. Time to dance away the stressful week that had finally ended. I got in just in time and after meeting up with my group on the Abbot side I attended to the first order of business: getting a drink. I went to the bar in the small room and asked the bartender Kate for any signature drink the restaurant offers. She told me that specialty cocktails are not available during club hours, but offered to make a concoction of her own. I agreed and she presented me with a mix of vanilla vodka, pineapple juice, and amaretto. It had a very sweet taste, almost like a piece of vanilla cake. I enjoyed the drink and went back to the Abbot side.
The Abbot side is the part of the building you go to when you want to jump up and down and pump your fist song after song. The DJs usually play a lot of EDM (electronic dance music) and House remixes of popular songs. It is always packed so if you are not a fan of big crowds this is not the place for you! But if you are, you will enjoy singing along to your favorite pop hits with your friends and the strangers who will probably come into your dance circle.
After a while on the Abbot side my boyfriend and I decided to go to the Porta side to get another drink. The Porta side is my personal favorite because it is a much more relaxed atmosphere with urban and pop music favorites from the 90s to today (and you can get pizza until 1am). We went to the bar and talked to a bartender named Colleen who was very nice and helpful. When I told her about the blog and asked for a signature drink she handed me a cocktail menu and told me I could take it home. I thought this was interesting because the bartender Kate had said I couldn’t get a specialty cocktail, but I was excited to try one now. Colleen suggested the White Door cocktail, their most popular drink. It was a mix of Absolut Ruby Red, Peach liqueur, white wine, orange juice, and topped with prosecco. The drink had a strong citrus taste that I really enjoyed.
Bartender Colleen with the White Door $10 each
Despite the large crowds, Porta has a very safe and comfortable atmosphere. Anyone who causes trouble is quickly escorted out by one of the many security guards. The most helpful and friendly is a man named Moses who is pictured below in the red shirt.
Security guard Moses (left) with my boyfriend (right)
Around 1 am we decided it was time to head home, but not before dancing to one last song, Jump Around by House of Pain. It was a great night and when I got home I was reminded when I took of my wristband of Porta’s motto that I love so much.