Cafe Alto
Cafe Alto

Cafe Alto

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.caferenzo.com/
  • Phone: 6503298300x
  • Hours of Operation:
    Mon – Thurs:
    Lunch 11:30am – 2pm
    Dinner 4:30pm – 9pm

    Fri – Sat:
    Lunch 11:30am – 2:45pm
    Dinner 3pm – 10pm

    Sun :
    Lunch 11:30am – 2:45pm
    Dinner 3pm –9 pm


  • Payment Options: AMEX,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Executive Chef: Jose Chan
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Banquet/Private Rooms, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Happy Hour, High Tea, Non-Smoking Area, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Private Room, Smoking Area, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine, Wine Bar
  • Special Events: Large parties, private events, and buy-outs welcome. Prix Fixe menu required for parties of 12 or more. For reservations and more details, please contact Mario@CafeRenzo.com.

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Cowper St.
  • Parking: Street Parking
A word from Cafe Alto
Italian restaurant where great food, romantic settings and passionate service results in a unique and fulfilling experience. Our comprehensive Italian menu provides something for everyone, from specialties to authentic pizza and pasta dishes, all created using Italian home made recipes and techniques.

With one of the most beautiful and well stocked bars in the Bay Area, Cafe Alto is a great place for both casual and business dining. We also accommodate large parties, special events and customized menus per request. Our wine list offers a combination of California and Italian wines that many say is one of the best in the Bay Area.

Cafe Alto is open for brunch, lunch and dinner every day. Reservations are recommended but not required.

Private parties and specialized menus also available.
Continued
Foodspotting photos
See all photos
Cafe Alto reviews from OpenTable diners
33 reviews since May 26, 2014
Overall Rating4
  • Food3.9
    Service4.1
  • Ambiance4
    Noise LevelModerate
100% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
neighborhood gem (17)great for outdoor dining (10)great for lunch (8)good for groups (7)fit for foodies (7)romantic (6)notable wine list (3)special occasion (3)kid-friendly (2)great for brunch (2)vibrant bar scene (2)hot spot (1)late-night find (1)Show More
  • Food, Mixed; Service, Mediocre
    MitchellZ
    Dined on 8/28/2014
    Appetizer, salad, excellent. Main course: blah. The pasta with cream sauce was slimy. We had asked for a vegetarian alternative (leaving out the prawns), but felt the chef could have tried a little harder (adding something else?), especially since they didn't reduce the entree price. We might have been willing to try Café Alto again but for the service. The waiters weren't quite surly, but it seemed a little worse than just indifferent. Partly a matter of attitude, also inattentiveness. They seemed to feel unhappy that we were splitting a couple of dishes. It didn't help that they initially charged the regular rate for the wine, not the Happy Hour rate (a $20 difference), though they did correct the bill when asked.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Good food but loud and bad music
    titiVIP
    Dined on 8/12/2014
    The food was really good. But overall we didn't like the place. I was looking for a romantic restaurant and saw that they had little candles, which I liked. But I had not anticipated the big TV screens, the poor and loud music. And the seats are very uncomfortable.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Enjoy your meal
    PAdinerVIP
    Dined on 8/11/2014
    Palo Alto has many restaurants but often the good ones have flaws that detract from or even ruin the experience. They forget that dining out at a restaurant is not just about the food, it is about the experience. Some are too corporate, with waiters and other staff trained to rush you out the door. Others think themselves so popular they become a tad arrogant. Cafe Alto (formerly Renzo) is neither corporate nor arrogant. It is that rare combination of great food, attentive and helpful wait staff, and an atmosphere that welcomes you. Enjoy your meal.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Food was very good, though basic.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 8/9/2014
    The place looks like a "hot" bistro, but is a basic, family-style Italian place. Tables for two are too close together. No reason for that. Reasonably priced, considering down town P.A. location.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • great!
    coolcc2
    Dined on 8/9/2014
    Salmon was fantastic! Excellent sauc and sides. Attentive Italian waiter.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Nice
    GeorgeVIP
    Dined on 7/12/2014
    We had a great dinner here Saturday evening. Bruschetta was beyond excellent.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Local Professional
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007VIP
    Dined on 7/10/2014
    Good service - authentic and fresh Italian food! Bruscheta with whole tomatoes - wow. Mario is a wonderful asset to this restaurant!
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Ritzy Italian
    asfdarling1
    Dined on 6/30/2014
    The restaurant is very cute. It has alot of seating. Didn't offer booths for 2 people. The tables were way too close together. The music was way too loud, however, we couldn't hear anyone else's conversation. Our Server took our order, our food was brought by other Servers, so was our bread and beverages. I did not like how close the tables were and that one side there weren't any chairs but a long booth that ran the length of the wall. The food was excellent! I would definitely eat here again.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great University Ave Resturant
    Vagabond
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    We had a wonderful pre-theater dinner on a Saturday night. We explained when we needed to leave and our dinner was timed perfectly with drinks, a wonderful pair of entrees ( pasta with prwns and baranzino with vegetables) and dessert. If we had had more time we would have split a salad or appetizer as they sounded great. Waiter was knowledgable, friendly and attentive. I wish we lived closer so we could go more often.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Palo Alto
    Reservations
    Dined on 6/22/2014
    Great little restaurant. Second time here. Open air wall so you can sit and watch folks pass by. I am not a foodie so I always have the warm prawn spinach salad
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for outdoor dining, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • New name, same menu and waiters
    TheIronDukeVIP
    Dined on 6/14/2014
    This restaurant has changed names at least three time now since I have been going to it. The food remains good, although I sense not as good as it used to be. This is a subjective judgment of course, but I tend to order pretty much the same thing, and I just have noticed I enjoy less than I used to. My guests at the last outing were unimpressed with the food, whereas in the past my guests would always comment favorably. The staff do remain as attentive and accommodating as always.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Always a winner
    LividdavidVIP
    Dined on 6/6/2014
    Once again we came here and were pleased. The waiter was helpful and made a good recommendation from the wine list when our chosen wine was not available. More than enough food so we left with leftovers which are still delicious and remind us of a pleasant evening.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • So so
    FoggyVIP
    Dined on 5/25/2014
    This was our third trip to the restaurant, we were trying to like it. The appetizers were ok, we had a ceasar salad, a spinach and shrimp salad, and one that looked like a Greek salad. The first two were ok, the third was really good. I ordered the special, which was veal culottes with veggies and potatoes. The veggies were cold and soggy, and the potatoes were burnt - actually charred. The pork was just mediocre, no flavor. My friend ordered a pizza that was not good at all. My husband's seafood pasta was ok. Will not be going back, which is too bad, since it is charming. It didn't help that there was a baby screaming for most of the meal. Not the restaurant's fault, but unpleasant.
    Special Features:
    good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 20 ratings-only reviews submitted since May 26, 2014
    • Overall Rating4.2
    • Food4
    • Ambiance4.2
    • Service4.2
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The following 259 reviews are from the Cafe Alto reviews archive.
  • actual Italian dining!
    andyman
    Dined on 5/19/2014
    Simply superb. Actual Italian food. Not like many wanna be italian spots. Fluent Italian staff to boot.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • cute and old world
    Reservations
    Dined on 5/11/2014
    Set on the busy downtown Palo Alto. The front wall opens to the street just like in Europe. The staff was super nice. They spoke Italian well which made it fun. The bar is old world style all in wood with tall shelves to the ceiling. I am not a foodie so don't ask me about food . I am all about the atmosphere. I will go back with friends next time. It was Mothers Day need I say more.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for outdoor dining, great for lunch, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Anniversary
    familiadeflores
    Dined on 4/21/2014
    We were there Monday celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary with 3 other couples. The hostess was pleasant to the eye and kind in her actions. The waiter was professional and gracious in his servitude. The food was excellent and superceded any expectations! We came from San Jose and will probably go again later this year for another special occasion.
    Special Features:
    special occasion, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 4/19/2014
    Our party of five had a wonderful dinner. It was kind of a special event for family and and an out-of-town friend. Everything went well, from the greeting, to the bar service and the friendly server at dinner. All five meals were delicious. We will be back.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Another wonderful meal
    CoraVIP
    Dined on 4/10/2014
    We took a group of 10 friends to Renzo (Real French, Italian, German, Chinese and American). Burrata cheese, Cappacio, Portabello mushroom were fantastic. Wine was great (4 in total) Pizza, Spaghetti cabonara, pasta with spicy sausage, osso buco, sole, etc are very very tasty too. The owner "Mario" is a very animated person. We had a good time teasing, comparing notes and laughing then finished off with lemocello, Italian dessert wine. The meal was 100% approved by the group :) Will return and for sure and highly recommended for folks who like pretty authentic Italian food. Hey we are not in Italy, we are realistic.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Fabulous Food and Too Loud Audio
    frequentDinerVIP
    Dined on 4/7/2014
    First the good: the rigatoni was the best I have had, and the Caesar salad was great. The bad news was the sound system was so loud that it was difficult to hear others at the table.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • I live a few blocks from Renzo
    foodiebev
    Dined on 3/28/2014
    I live a few blocks from Renzo and there are many choices in downtown Palo Alto, Renzo's is consistently friendly and serves very good I talian food. Great bar. I have been many times and plan to go again.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Just average with lousy service
    TravelFoodFun
    Dined on 3/28/2014
    We were one of only four 1-4 person groups in the whole place. But the four or more waiters spent more time talking to each other and two guests then they spent with the tables. Took 10 minutes just to get water; another 15 to take the wine and food order. To top it off the food was simply average despite ordering their specialties.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Elegant but not Ostentatious
    Gianni
    Dined on 3/22/2014
    From the time we arrived till we left the staff was attentive but not overly so. We needed a relaxing night out and we were not disappointed by the food (ok, the carrots were a bit undercooked but who eats carrots), the service and atmosphere, down to the small detail of the cream for our coffee being served hot. Both my wife and I had the New York Strip, cooked perfectly. The manager, Mario, was marvelous when we had a question the server couldn't answer and when he overheard me toasting my wife on her birthday our desserts were compt. Though the restaurant was busy this Saturday night we never felt rushed or neglected.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, notable wine list, late-night find, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Good Birthday venue
    Becky
    Dined on 3/22/2014
    I booked here at short notice for a table of 11 for a birthday meal. The restaurant has a nice ambiance, we were seated on a large table near the back. The restaurant was busy, but it was quiet enough for conversations around the table. I ordered the homemade ravioli, which was really good. It took a while to order and receive the food, but we weren't in a rush. For dessert I had the special red wine and chocolate cake, which was slightly disappointing. I had been there before and had the chocolate soufflé, which was divine. Unfortunately they forgot to bring one of the guest's their coffee, but did bring everyone a complimentary limoncello. Generally everyone was pleased with the restaurant and food and I would go there again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Quintessential Palo Alto...
    NYClover
    Dined on 3/22/2014
    Just a wonderful and enjoyable place... ambiance is very silicon valley, food and wine are great. Service was impeccable (and pleasant and friendly) for us -- even on a crowded Saturday night. We'll keep coming back for more!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, neighborhood gem, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Tasty Italian restaurant
    Nora
    Dined on 3/22/2014
    Good food with reasonable prices. Restaurant is nicely designed and the team is friendly
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, notable wine list, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Nice Atmosphere, Food Not So Much
    Swan
    Dined on 3/17/2014
    We wanted to go to an Italian restaurant in Palo Alto to celebrate our anniversary. Cafe Renzo has a good looking interior with Italianish murals and a large attractive bar area which had a happy after work kind of crowd. As far as the food goes, the pricey main course of pasta with seafood was overcooked and just didn't taste very good. The mushroom risotto was okay. The creme brûlée had a great flavor but no satisfying cracking through a layer of carmelized sugar because that layer was super thin. The chocolate soufflé was undercooked. Overall, the food was a disappointment and we will look elsewhere for our nice Italian restaurant food fix. Maybe next year I can talk the husband into just going to Italy for our anniversary...
    Special Features:
    good for groups, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Italian Gem
    mimicruz
    Dined on 3/15/2014
    On a Saturday evening we took my daughter and her family to Renzo's. We were a party of 7 with a teen age granddaughter and 2 preteen grandsons. Everyone was delighted with the ambiance, the service and the Italian menu. The calimari was delicious and was scoffed up quickly. My Osso Buco was especially good. I look forward to a return visit to Renzo's.
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OK Place for a meal with Friends
    Martinigirl
    Dined on 3/9/2014
    The room itself was nice, with a beautiful bar area, high ceilings (making it a little loud), and booths. The booths looked cozy but when seated you seemed so far away from the person across from you. Our waiter was great. Very friendly,and gave a great recommendation on wine. The food was just ok. The halibut special was overcooked and dry. The gnocchi was ok. There were chunks of mozarella in the dish which didn't add anything to it. The branzino filet were the size of a small trout and swimming in the lemon sauce. Too much for me as it masked the fish's flavor. Chicken masala was overcooked and dry as well. The wine was very nice though! The other servers were to the point. No smiles, no small talk - bam there was your food.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • lots of choices; all is great
    MarkVIP
    Dined on 2/25/2014
    Ive eaten here a few times - its not "fancy" food; but its all well-flavored, and the service is outstanding - not cheap but worth it
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • fabulous food and great service
    PBear
    Dined on 2/22/2014
    We had a wonderful meal at Cafe Renzo - food was fresh, creative, beautifully presented and delicious. Drinks were unique and perfect. But the most outstanding factor for us was our server, Gilmar, who was not only attentive and prompt, but warm and friendly and just a lot of fun. We enjoyed his personality and our interaction with him throughout the evening was just great. My husband asked him to recommend a dish and to pair a wine to it ("surprise me!"), and both the dish and the wine he selected were perfect. His sense of humor and our interactions with him made the evening particularly memorable for us. The only glitch in our evening was being seated at a terrible table right by the door. Had to really push to be given a better table.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A definite Stanford requirement
    OpenTable Diner Since 2009
    Dined on 2/22/2014
    Cafe Renzo was just fantastic! A reservation helped us get right in. The waiter seemed to be too busy at times to help or return and ask if we needed anything else. The food was amazing - the atmosphere was super!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fun atmosphere
    Foodie4VIP
    Dined on 2/22/2014
    I like the indoor-outdoor feel and the high ceilings. The risotto was so rich from tons of Gorgonzola but it was so good! Cheerful, friendly waitstaff.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, great for brunch, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • The options were very few
    Foodie
    Dined on 2/14/2014
    The options were very few for Valentine's Day. They were out of spinach which was the main side for my dish.
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene, romantic, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • pre-defined Valentine's day
    DarthVintnerVIP
    Dined on 2/14/2014
    pre-defined Valentine's day menu left something to be desired
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Food a BIG Disappointment
    ChowhoundVIP
    Dined on 2/14/2014
    Soup and main course were bland, bland, bland. Ravioli was tough. We had to reject the coffee because it tasted old, or maybe the coffee maker machine needed cleaning.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great experience
    deliciousfood
    Dined on 2/8/2014
    The food and service was amazing. I was very pleased with my dining experience. It was my girlfriend's birthday, and I wanted to treat her to something special. I let the server know it was her birthday, and they treated her with a birthday surprise.
    Special Features:
    special occasion, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A Good Choice
    Gail
    Dined on 1/14/2014
    Cafe Renzo is an attractive Italian restaurant with food that did not disappoint. Our group enjoyed the linguine with clams in a white wine sauce, the sea bass, and the generous lamb chop which were well-seasoned and delicious. No open kitchen here, thank goodness. However, there is a bar in the room and depending on the crowd, it can be noisy.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great food consistently delivered
    NatalyaSVIP
    Dined on 1/5/2014
    Coming to Renzo for many time already we are always confident food will be great. Just keep in mind, if you are in ahurry, this may not be a place for you. They keep a certain pace to the service and do not speed up.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list, kid-friendly, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • a Palo Alto Favorite!
    rnbwkatVIP
    Dined on 1/5/2014
    I have eaten here several times for dinner, which I love, but finally got a chance to enjoy a Sunday Brunch. Although it is not known for a wide selection of brunch foods, what they do have is wonderful flavorful and just down right yummy! I have always love the staff here, and no matter what they never disappoint. They know when to check on you, never rush you and yet always keep an eye on the ever present champagne or wine glasses. :-) I will definitely come back for another brunch outing in the near future.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, vibrant bar scene, great for brunch, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Improved Service
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 1/4/2014
    I'm happy to report that the service was much better than my previous visits. It was slow but I'll give the credit to the waiter. My open table reservation, I requested a table for 2 outdoors. I was quite pleased that a table was available for us. again, it was slow but I'd liketo give credit to the host for honoring my table request. Cafe Renzo has been a meeting spot for my dear friend and I so we were quite thrilled that our "special occasion" was delightful. Thank you!
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, notable wine list, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.