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.
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Cafe Alto reviews from OpenTable diners
21 reviews since June 23, 2014
Overall Rating3.9
  • Food4
    Service3.9
  • Ambiance3.9
    Noise LevelModerate
100% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
neighborhood gem (9)great for outdoor dining (8)romantic (4)good for groups (3)great for lunch (3)fit for foodies (2)vibrant bar scene (2)special occasion (2)hot spot (1)great for brunch (1)kid-friendly (1)late-night find (1)Show More
  • Terrific food, ambience and service
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 5/31/2013
    Chose Cafe Renzo for a celebratory work dinner and could not be happier with everything!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, vibrant bar scene, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Disappointing Food, Good Service
    GordonVIP
    Dined on 5/29/2013
    Avoid the Oso Bucco; it was so bad I could not finish it. Also avoid the skewered seafood dish; less than a handful of shrimp and the roasted vegetables (eggplant and zuccini) were tasteless. It's unfortunate that the chefs let this nice restaurant's atmosphere and service down, but that is why you go to a restaurant, isn't it? It would be best to find another Italian restaurant in Palo Alto.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • An off night
    Dave
    Dined on 5/26/2013
    I usually give much higher ratings to Renzo's, On this night ,however, I found that my seating choice made at the time of the reservation was not read by the staff, the service was slow and the pizza had very little sauce. We'll be back, hoping for the usual 4 and 5 star service we've come to expect.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • A bar liquor collection that
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007VIP
    Dined on 5/25/2013
    A bar liquor collection that spans and entire wall to the ceiling, but no Drambuie.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • All dishes were very good!
    Alan
    Dined on 5/12/2013
    It was our first visit to Cafe Renzo. We ordered 2 entrees for me and my wife, a pasta with shrimps and a steak. They both were very good. The steak was cooked just the way my wife wanted and it was very tasty! My pasta had 6 very large shrimps. We eat at Italian restaurants regularly including very pricy ones. We found Cafe Renzo was equal or better than other ones that are twice as expensive. One problem we always have with fancy Italian restaurants is they're usually kid-unfriendly. To our surprise, Cafe Renzo has a kids menu. Our 2 kids ordered pasta for only $5 each! They liked the pasta although I didn't taste it since they ate it all. We'll definitely go back to Cafe Renzo. Hopefully, their food quality is consistent.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, scenic view, neighborhood gem, great for lunch, special occasion, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Just right!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 5/12/2013
    Food, wine, service, everything was perfect! Adults meals were delicious! Kids food is especially great! Nutritious and healthy!
    Special Features:
    notable wine list, kid-friendly, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fine food...great service!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 5/11/2013
    Great place for lunch! Menu has enough variety to satisfy diverse tastes .... the service was excellent... the tomato basil soup was a real treat ! Our group tried the gnocchi with pesto, the vegetarian lasagne , the ravioli, the Cesar Salad and the spinach salad. All of them were amazing! Parking can be a little bit of an effort on a weekend but it won't stop us from going back to this neighborhood gem!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for brunch, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Enjoyable Meal
    OpenTable Diner Since 2002VIP
    Dined on 5/1/2013
    My friends and I enjoyed our first dining experience at Cafe Renzo. Service was good and we had ample time to enjoy our meal. We started with the Calamari Fritti which was good, but not great as it was overly crunchy and the dipping sauce was a little bland. For dinner two of us had the pasta special, tagliatelle with prawns & asparagus, and it was very good. The third person in our group ordered the Spiedino di Mare and she cleaned up her plate. The prices they charge are reasonable for the Palo Alto area. We left very satisfied and agreed to dine at this restaurant again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Everything was fabulous!!Our
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 4/22/2013
    Everything was fabulous!!Our waiter was engaging and knowledgable. The atmosphere was pleasant and welcoming. The food was amazing!!Great experience- i will be back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • We have made Cafe Renzo our
    OpenTable Diner Since 2001VIP
    Dined on 4/21/2013
    We have made Cafe Renzo our monthly destination for a family dinner with our three girls. Having lived in Europe for almost three years and traveled extensively, we miss it every day. Going to Cafe Renzo really feels like a European experience from the sidewalk tables, to the excellent, authentic Italian food, to the really friendly waiters who all have an interesting story and are from abroad, to the ability to have a nice long dinner enjoying your family without worrying about the next seating, to a front of the house manager who recognizes you. It is family owned and has an extensive menu so there really is something for everyone. I cannot recommend it enough...We love Cafe Renzo!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Good food, service, and prices.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008VIP
    Dined on 3/31/2013
    The Linguine Vongole was perfectly cooked - both pasta and clams in the shell. Seafood flavor was deep. Nice amount of garlic. The Cioppino was excellent! A good amount of seafood. Lovely tomato-based broth that wasn't too salty. Didn't like the pizza. Crust is thin but I like some chew to my crust. The crust was soft - almost wet. Service was very good! Attentive server that gave his feedback on our menu selections.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Renzo was our waiter. What
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 3/23/2013
    Renzo was our waiter. What a terrific guy! We are Italian food people, I have never written a review, but feel compelled to write. This was our second visit, and both times we have had a wonderful experience. His carbonara was simply the best we ever ate. We plan on being regulars here for many years
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • By choice we ate at the bar.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2009
    Dined on 3/18/2013
    By choice we ate at the bar. The food, wine, and service were all great. Had a selection of appetizers for our meal and all were done very well.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fun, delicious, great service.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 3/16/2013
    Fun, delicious, great service. Felt like you were in Rome.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Lovely place
    HappyFoodie
    Dined on 3/16/2013
    Open floor plan , beautiful decor. Our server was excellent seems to care and very attending . Funny and warm. Ask for a table if in large groups, more room. Not too loud. Food was great
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Food is well prepared basic
    pianonoirVIP
    Dined on 3/11/2013
    Food is well prepared basic Italian. Fish better than the veal. Waiters are great.. Knowledgeable and helpful.. Even funny. Noise level low enough that you can actually have a conversation !
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Make this your go to place
    OpenTable Diner Since 2003
    Dined on 2/28/2013
    Excellent fine dining with reasonable prices and absolutely no pretension. Drop into Renzo's in your jeans for a quick bite or get dressed up for a special occasion; it is that kind of place. Staff is warm and professional.
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene, fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Waiter was very friendly and
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010VIP
    Dined on 2/22/2013
    Waiter was very friendly and accommodating. Food was delicious
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • I thought I could not go wrong
    lovefood2001
    Dined on 2/17/2013
    I thought I could not go wrong with ordering a cheese & tomato pizza but to my surprise, the pizza did not have much taste, with the crust soggy and was not anything to be excited about. I'm not sure what it was - perhaps the tap water that they used but the iced tea tasted like medicine. The other entrees my party ordered were so-so. The only thing that we enjoyed was perhaps the service provided by our server who was friendly.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • We attended Cafe Renzo for
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 2/14/2013
    We attended Cafe Renzo for Valentines Day. Cafe Renzo had a special menu with lots of wonderful choices of entre's. I would like to return and try their standard menu because I was disappointed when I could not order the Bruschetta that I was looking forward to.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, notable wine list, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great food and fantastic happy
    OpenTable Diner Since 2004VIP
    Dined on 2/13/2013
    Great food and fantastic happy hour. Very attentive waiter and a really fun place for a wednesday night. We will definitely be going back.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Outstanding food. Chef was
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 2/13/2013
    Outstanding food. Chef was happy to change a calzone filling into a pasta dish for me. Waiter was friendly and informative, but didn't hover. Can't wait to go back. Partner had gnocchi--like eating little pillows--fabulous!
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene, fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Nothing great, nothing bad.
    alamoVIP
    Dined on 2/10/2013
    Nothing great, nothing bad. I usually like to give more detail, but the meal was just so so, with no complaints. The service was so so, with no complaints. I do give the restaurant high marks for Spotted Hen beer.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Enjoyed our dinner. Nice
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 2/1/2013
    Enjoyed our dinner. Nice downtown location, but not completely crowded so we could make a reservation the same day! Read reviews before coming which were not overwhelming - but after eating here thought that any negative comments were generally off-base. I had the Gemelli alla Carcerata, which we all agreed was the best of our entrees. My husband had the Gnocchi al Pesto, which was easily comparable to the version of this dish at any of the good Italian restaurants in the area. We ordered the Bruschetta to start and although not very large, was very tasty. The bread at the table was a basket of rolls made from pizza dough, which I liked very much. Did not find it noisy.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Very unimpressed. We were
    jill
    Dined on 1/25/2013
    Very unimpressed. We were with another couple and it was so loud we had difficulty hearing across the table. The pizza was terrible especially when you consider all the great pizza in the area. You would think they would notch it up to be competitive. The salad too was mostly a heap of arugula . I guess I should have been suspicious when I looked at open table in the afternoon and they were one of the few which had availability when I wanted it for that evening.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Pizza tasted as if it had
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 1/25/2013
    Pizza tasted as if it had been frozen. Pasta dishes were good. Service was at times condesending, we certainly were not made to feel welcome. Would not return, too may other choices in the area.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Italian as Italian should be
    DinerSFVIP
    Dined on 1/23/2013
    First time here and they were great!! Excellent calamari, sea bass and gnocchi - no really...excellent! Service was great and staff very knowledgeable and friendly. Glad to find this place and can't wait to go back!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Typical too-noisy-to-talk-comfortab
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006
    Dined on 1/16/2013
    Typical too-noisy-to-talk-comfortably sound levels.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Love the wine prices on happy
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008VIP
    Dined on 1/10/2013
    Love the wine prices on happy hour specials. That will keep us coming. Also the mixed green salad with grilled salmon is a favorite. Noisy by the bar, but we moved to the other side of the restaurant and that was better.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The food we had at Cafe Renzo
    OpenTable Diner Since 2005
    Dined on 1/9/2013
    The food we had at Cafe Renzo reminded us of the best food we've had in Italy!
    Special Features:
    romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Came here after a search online
    OpenTable Diner Since 2003VIP
    Dined on 1/6/2013
    Came here after a search online for an Italian place, with good reviews. An extensive menu with lots of yummy options. They were very accommodating to some dietary restrictions we had. Great Happy Hour - even on Sunday. :) Great location, downtown Palo Alto. Great time all round. Wld definitely come back to try more.
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene, good for groups, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Spent New Year's Eve with
    Lelenita
    Dined on 12/31/2012
    Spent New Year's Eve with a splendid dinner and great music - Sandra Aran jazz singer. Would do it again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Tasty but Not A Welcoming Place
    OpenTable Diner Since 2003
    Dined on 12/20/2012
    the hostess and waitstaff were so cold and unwelcoming that I really wanted to leave before sitting, but we had theater tickets and didn't have time to go anywhere else. they changed waiters on us almost immediately and the info we'd given to the first one wasn't passed to the second one. they rushed us in placing our order and were neither friendly nor attentive during our meal. Though it's a pretty place, it was cold and noisy. The food was really good - carbonara was divine, and my daughter had an amazing special pasta dish - with broccoli rabe. But I doubt we'll go again. Given all the great food spots in Palo Alto, there is no reason to go places where the service is so poor and indifferent. Too bad.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • First time back in 6 months.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011VIP
    Dined on 12/14/2012
    First time back in 6 months. Massive upgrade in food quality. I don't know why they don't do better.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The restaurant is noisy which
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 12/13/2012
    The restaurant is noisy which made it hard to have a conversation. One of our orders was incorrect so each of us ate part of our meal alone.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Food was decent. Ambiance
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 12/10/2012
    Food was decent. Ambiance was nice and chill and not too loud...easy to hear the person talking next to you. I just wished the food was a little better.
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene, good for groups, late-night find, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • I had written a note requesting
    Debbi
    Dined on 12/9/2012
    I had written a note requesting a quiet spot if possible as I was bringing my elderly parents. When we checked in we were told they were holding a nice spot for us in the back. It was a lovely experience and the food was wonderful!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem, special occasion, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • This is a neighborhood restaurant
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 12/8/2012
    This is a neighborhood restaurant for me and I have tried to love it--but it is just to uneven to continue to support. I've eaten here several times, and this was the last, I'm done.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • We love coming back to this
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 12/7/2012
    We love coming back to this restaurant, knowing the food is always good and the service is excellent.
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • A large group of old friends
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006
    Dined on 12/5/2012
    A large group of old friends met for drinks and dinner. Terrible weather caused several people to be late. The staff were flexible with the changing size of the party and gave us the perfect table in the rear of the restaurant. The food was delicious and the bar was up to the challenge of some unusual drink requests. Thank you for a fun evening!
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene, good for groups, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic