Porta

One of the things that I promised when I decided to change the direction of the blog a bit was some help in navigating menus at some of my favorite restaurants.  I figured a good one to start with would be Porta Pizza in Asbury Park.  Porta opened three years ago and has been a favorite spot of mine from day 1. Community picnic tables for seating, a beautiful circle bar, and an outdoor picnic area with bocce ball (and often live music). It’s one of those places that you can go, and look up to realize that five hours have gone by.  It’s just a great place to relax with friends and get some homemade nosh. “Eat. Drink. Be Honest.” is their tag line, and they live up to it.  They focus on fresh food and have a fantastic atmosphere.  The pizzas are absolutely amazing and the pasta is phenomenal.  The dough is made in house with flour right from Italy, coal fired in giant wood ovens that were also imported straight from Naples. The pasta is handmade by an Italian immigrant in NYC, from whom they purchase it at a market. It doesn’t get much more authentic or fresh than that.  All of that being said, however, if you’re avoiding grain or dairy, a pizza place probably seems like the last place you would be able to find a meal.  You’d be wrong! There’s plenty of delicious food to eat, if you just know where to look and what changes to make.

Let’s start with Brunch.  Porta has one of the best brunches there is. Not only is the food fantastic, but there are $20 mimosas…for two…bottomless. It’s a pretty amazing deal.  When navigating a menu looking for Paleo-friendly fare, we start in salads an appetizers. Luck for us, Porta actually cares about where they get their meats, and sources from sustainable, humane farmers. Joy to the world! Back to the food. In the salad/app section we see a bunch of options: A meat plate (which is wonderful), and plenty of (quite largely portioned, I might add) salads.  These aren’t boring salads either. The Three Trees is a mountain of greens full of flavor and the roasted prosciutto is a genius addition. For the Bibb, if you avoid dairy, simply ask for it without. Don’t run away from crostini, either. All that means is that it’s on toast. You can take things off of toast.

Porta Brunch

From there, we skip over the pizzas (sad face) and go directly to the plates. Again, if there’s cheese and you don’t want it just ask for it to be made without.  The Sunday Gospel baked egg dish (below) was comforting and satisfying.  A friend had the Scramby, and all of that black pepper added an interesting kick to a seemingly basic dish.  Oh, and the coffee is AMAZING. Get it. Last week I got the Braised Pork #eggs, and simply removed the cheese and bread.  That ciabatta roll is tempting though, crispy, light, and probably delicious…but the braised pork that was inside was tender and perfect.

IMG_0599

Moving to the lunch menu, we’re looking at many of the same items.  Salads and apps are stop #1, but now we get the pan-roasted octopus. Let me make this very clear: This is the best octopus dish I have ever had. I get it almost every time I am there. It is perfectly cooked, tender and slightly charred. The fennel is shaved so thin that it adds just enough bite. It’s truly a thing of beauty. I order octopus almost every time I see it and this one still had yet to be beat.

Unfortunately, past brunch, your options to slim down a bit, but that pork sandwich is still there and the meat of it is still awesome. That with one of the salads is a pretty perfect meal if you ask me. Grab a side of roasted long hots if you want to add a real punch.

Porta Lunch

While dinner is primarily pizza and pastas, the appetizer section gets a few friendly additions: Namely Lil’ Sebastion and the Ka’Noodsen. Little neck clams in a chile broth will do any day of the week, and once again: just take that pig off the toast and chow down. That day octopus is still there…hint hint.

Porta Dinner

I find if you take a little time, and make a few adjustments, you can build a meal almost anywhere.  If you can find creative salads that get you tons of greens (and no sad iceberg), just find a protein to have with it and you’re winning. At Porta, the salads are inventive and extremely unique. Oh, and huge. You’ll certainly leave very satisfied and not at all feeling like you’ve missed out or been short changed. An added bonus: any non-paleo people will also enjoy an amazing meal at the Jersey shore.

Visit their site to keep up with their seasonally changing menu.