It was a freezing cold evening on December 22nd. Most of my finals were done, and I wanted nothing more than to leave Madison and start my winter break hibernation.

I had just one more test left. Two hours before my chemistry exam, my parents picked me up and took me to Madison's Hilldale Mall.  I needed food that was quick, filling, and comforting so I could plow through and perform well on my last final exam. We decided to swing by Café Porta Alba, located across from Macy's. 


As soon as we walked in, the smell of high-quality olive oil and fresh-baked bread surrounded me. The host greeted us with a smile. When we sat down, I saw a huge brick pizza oven with a blazing flame right in front of me. That's when I knew that my dinner would be super fresh.

What To Order

The menu was limited, but I still had trouble deciding on which pizza to order. I finally settled on the the Pizza Vegetariana because I wanted something with loads of toppings and flavor. Plus this particular pizza had a bit of nutritional value because you know, veggies. 

The Moment of Truth

chicken, mozzarella, pizza
Sarah Arora

It only took 20 minutes to get my much-needed comfort food. However, the pizza looked like it took hours to prepare. It was a work of art that looked too pretty to eat. When I took a bite of my slice of pizza, every flavor stood out.

The crust tasted like fresh-baked crunchy bread. There was brininess from the artichoke hearts and olives, earthiness from the mushrooms, sweetness from the tomato sauce, and just the right amount of cheese. 

My Experience Overall

My experience at Café Porta Alba could be summarized as a quick trip to Italy. The flavors were different from any other pizza I've had. If you're a UW-Madison student who loves pizza, try one of these quick, authentic, and unforgettable slices of heaven because you won't regret it.