Want amazing Italian food on the Upper West Side? Piccolo Cafe is a cozy restaurant that transports its guests right to the heart of Italy. The food served here is authentic and tastes like it just came out of your Nonna’s kitchen. Discover one of the Upper West Side’s best kept secrets and find out what makes this Italian joint such a special treat by reading below.
Piccolo Cafe opened its doors at 313 Amsterdam (off 74th Street) in 2010. The Upper West Side Italian restaurant has since operated both as a cafe and a restaurant. Patrons can be seen coming in for a full meal order or simply stopping by to try one of the signature homemade desserts.
The Upper West Side restaurant is open from 8am to 11pm on weekdays and from 9am to 11pm during the weekends. There’s a menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch on the weekends as well as weekly specials. They also offer dinner specials on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights.
Piccolo Cafe is a neighborhood joint that exudes character and old world history. The restaurant’s walls are plastered with hundreds of vintage Italian newspapers. The intimate and rustic ambiance just adds to its charm. It almost feels as if you walked into a neighborhood cafe in a European city. The restaurant has an outdoor seating space available during the warmer months of the year. It goes without saying that their customer service is always courteous and professional.
Piccolo Cafe, meaning “tiny” in Italian, might be small in size but offers tasty comfort food in generous portions. They are best known for their homemade pasta made with handmade noodles. Each pasta dish is prepared by following its traditional Italian recipe.
The pasta options on the menu offer classic choices such as spaghetti with meatballs as well as more modern ones like the pumpkin gnocchi. Their dishes are influenced by what the best of Italian cuisine from the Emilia-Romagna region has to offer. In fact, the elaboration behind each dish is done in true Bolognese style.
The menus feature plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options for those with dietary restrictions. The breakfast and brunch items offer a variety of organic egg sandwiches and omelets. We recommend the truffle egg sandwich. It’s perfect for those who want to jumpstart their mornings with an extra dose of energy. Some other of their morning signature dishes such as the croissant stuffed with avocado, lobster, and poached eggs are only served on the weekends.
Their paninis, which come with a 16 oz mesclun green salad on the side, make for the perfect light lunch meal. The signature steak panini made with skirtsteak and topped with tomatoes, onions, tabasco, avocado, and provolone is a meat lover’s dream come true. Veggie-eaters can’t go wrong by ordering the buffalo mozzarella panini topped with basil, tomatoes, and Gaeta olives.
The salads are another great and healthy option for lunch. Some of their signature salads include the smoked salmon salad mixed with arugula, bufala, and balsamic vinegar and the marinated tuna salad with tomato, mesculun greens, and seasoned with black pepper. Perfect for those looking to grab a lean meal before heading back to work. Patrons that come in during lunch hours can also try their midday special which includes a glass of wine, a pasta dish, and an espresso for only $15.
The dinner menu offers more delicious classic Italian fare. Starters such as the vintage eggplant parmigiana and the spicy marinated calamari seasoned with garlic, capers, breadcrumbs, and pancetta, are spectacular. The pasta takes up most of the menu and offers a variety of irresistible choices. The signature penne ala vodka is satisfying and comes with an option of chicken, bacon, smoked salmon or lobster. Another standout dish is the paccheri lamb and broccoli rabe prepared with butchered organic heritage local lamb. The spaghetti al cartoccio drenched in seafood ragu with cherry tomatoes and chili pepper flakes is also a must-try.
However, the menu doesn’t stop there. The octopus entree served with celery, roasted potatoes, arugula, and tomatoes is a sure bet for any seafood lover out there. Other dinner entrees such as the gluten free sausage and radicchio risotto with asparagus, champagne, and parmigiano poached eggs and the goat cheese risotto are just as mouthwatering.
As far as drinks go, their extensive wine selection is varied and has some great Italian imports. They also dispose of both a french press and an espresso machine to make the meanest of cappuccinos.
Piccolo Cafe opened a catering division in 2014 that offers full catering services to corporate and private events. They have three other locations spread throughout NYC. Two of them are located in Midtown at 238 Madison Ave and 274 W. 40th St. The third restaurant is located in the Gramercy neighborhood at 157 3rd Ave.
The restaurant’s cozy ambiance is ideal for a weekend family get-together or a romantic dinner date before heading off to nearby Beacon Theatre. Learn more about Piccolo Cafe’s history by checking out their official website.