There are very few things I enjoy eating more then pork. Any kind of pork really, but my favorite is definetely the roasted kind where the skin gets super crispy. It usually comes from the shoulder, and you can get it at Cuban restaurants, or Christmas parties in Miami (my hometown). But I have had delicious roast pork in other places too (if you’re ever in Bali I can recommend a great place for roast suckling pig).
On Friday, with Margon closed (great Cuban food on 46th between 6th & 7th) I headed to Cafe Cello- a similar type of place recommended to me by numerous people… The sign out front was not exactly reassuring. It had clearly been dumbed down to attract a less then adventurous New York food crowd, who would be more likely to go into a place if it sees the words ”cafe”, “deli” and “American”.
But, once inside, my fears disappeared. The food looked really fresh and delicious (in contrast to Margon, which for all it’s positives, can sometimes not look so great depending on the day.) All the food is in trays under glass, so ordering is as easy as looking, deciding and pointing. The day I was there, it wasn’t too crowded- but I’ve heard you want to get there early, because once they run out of something, they don’t make more. And by something, I mean the maduros (fried ripe plantains) which apparently are the first things to go!
Anyway, once I laid eyes on the roast pork (with the crispiest most perfect skin), ordering was pretty easy. Along with a nice size portion of pork (pulled with tongs off what appeared to be a shoulder), they give you your choice of white rice w/ black bean soup, or yellow rice with pinto beans already mixed in, and maduros (there was still some left at 1pm)- all for $7. PLUS, they threw in a piece of the skin on top. Delicious!!! And the skin was perfect. If you love roast pork, then Cafe Cello is your new favorite place.
The rest of the menu, and a +/- you’ll definetely want to read, after the jump…
If you don’t like pork, they have a bunch of other options, which change depending on the day. The day I was there, they had Fried Chicken (which looked really crispy and great), Steak w/ onions, grilled chicken, chicken with vegetables and pork stew. The roast pork seems to be the only thing they have every day of the week, with the other items rotating… including Chicken Stew, Beef Stew, Beef Tripe, Oxtails, BBQ Chicken, BBQ Ribs, Fried Pork, Spaghetti w/ Meat Sauce, Chicken w/ Crackling, Fried blue fish, and more. They have a list of specials by day, but I don’t know how accurate it is. Everything is $7.00, except for a few items which are $7.60.
They have wraps too, but truthfully- if you want a wrap, I’m sure there are other places you should be… leave this place to the people who want real latin american food!
The + (what people who like this place will say)
- If you love pork… you will love this place. The roast pork is amazing.
- If you want a meal with rice and beans and plantains, this is also a great choice
- Cleaner and fresher then Margon (according to someone who works in my office… although I’m sure some would disagree)
THE – (what people who don’t like it will say)
- They run out of food, and don’t make more… especially the Plantains. So make sure to get there early if you want the best selection, and insure that you get some maduros!
- They don’t have Cuban Sandwiches (that you’ll have to go to Margon for)
- This is not light eating… it’s greasy and heavy- so be prepared to be a lot less productive at work after eating at this place.
Cafe Cello, 48 W. 46th St. (btw. 5th & 6th Ave.), 212-764-8600