Cafe Cello

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


  • Swine is fine. Now you can move on to Kosher Delight (same block closer to fifth) for the anti-swine.

  • Hi there. Well, I was looking for some info about NYC (planning on going there in December) when I found your site and I would like to sugest you something. I dont know if there are any Portuguese restaurants in NY but try to find one that has “leitão” (sounds like laytow). It is a typical portuguese food. It is a young and very small pig, usualy roasted and super crispy served with some very fresh and gasefied white wine. Just try it.

  • Great write-up. I’m a big fan of Margon and haven’t heard of this place. I’ll definitely give it a try. Crispy pork skin rocks. BTW, I’m actually going to be in Bali this fall. Where’s the great suckling pig place you mentioned? Thanks.

  • love yr site…midtown SUCKS for lunch options. as for cafe cello, i never knew of it either. i go to margon every wednesday for their roast pork (and cubanos). i love margon. you’re eating roast pork…it shouldnt exactly be clean.

    i went to cafe cello today to try the pork. it was a cleaner environment and there was no real line. the price is less than what margon charges but taste wise, margon just destroys these guys.

    i love my pork and it was better than other places in the area, but im sticking with margon.

  • A buddy of mine just turned me on to this blog.. this rocks.. BTW.. I had walked by this place, but like you said.. I saw “American” “Cafe” and “Deli” and kept walking.. I’ll be sure to pop in next time, as I’m on 46th and 5th.. (above the Barnes & Noble) – so this place couldn’t be closer.

  • This place sucks. The beans and rice have zero flavor and if you don’t get there as soon as the beans and rice are fresh, the steam table just cooks the snot out of them until they taste like a cardboard mess. The pork swims in grease, comes out basically warm and greasy, and is not spiced well.

  • you say get there early, but we got there, and ate, and by the time we left all of the food was swapped out for different options. we asked, and we were actually eating the leftovers from yesterday. yuck!


    That sucks… I guess it’s got to be a balance.  Get there early enough to get plantains, but late enough that the leftover food from the day before is gone?  -zach

  • Very good roast pork (pernil asado) as well as fried chicken. The mixed rice (rice and beans) is good but on the dry side.

  • Just tried for the first time today. The roast pork is delicious. Moist and flavorful. As the others have said, the rice and beans are kind of on the dry side. The fried chicken, chicken stew and fried fish looked amazing!

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    I was disappointed in this place – pork was bland, not well seasoned. And it may claim to be Latin food – but everyone that works there is Asian, which should have been a tip off right away

  • This place is owned by Chinese-Cubans, so its really Chinese-Cuban pork. I like it, I thing it tastes amazing.

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    As a Cuban American, I can say that this place is not “Cuban” per se… Everyone here looks Asian. Sophie’s/Tina has an Ok “authentic” sandwich(Margon tosses things in there that do not belong), but the best I have had so far in NYC is Carteles in the lower east side. 6th and A ave, small Cuban bisrto with great coffee and the closest thing to a proper Cuban sandwich around.

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    It’s a fun place to eat and drink a beer. They make delicious chicken wraps. The grill guy with tattoos is very friendly, very fast , he plays nice music. You can have a nice conversation while you wait for your food. Love this place.

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