Stick to the Coffee at Piccolo Cafe For Now

Piccolo Cafe

I’ve tracked the opening of Piccolo Café (40th st between 7th & 8th) with a good deal of excitement. Their original location in Gramercy seems to have a loyal following, and even counts CNN reporter, Soledad O’Brien as a fan. At first impression, it’s a picturesque and civilized café on a street that’s lined with fashion district dives, generic delis, and glutted with traffic. Inside, it’s pretty and warm, and a place where I would be perfectly happy to linger for far too long over a steamy cup of Joe.

Piccolo Cafe

The theme is decidedly Italian – their coffee is roasted in Trieste (Italy), and the menu is a spread of paninis, pastas and Italian desserts. The European ethos exhibited in the cozy casualness of the restaurant and the counter staff. Perhaps a bit too casual, as the food is sloppily done at times, and during one visit, the guy manning the counter felt it permissible to help himself with a $1 tip from my change without asking. But they pour an outstanding cup of coffee – my Americano was bright without being acidic and smooth without sacrificing flavor. Unfortunately, the food is unimpressive at best, and at worst, an outright rip-off.

Piccolo Cafe panini

A panini ($8) of stracchino cheese, prosciutto and arugula was tasty, but an unsubstantial bite of food for the price paid. I enjoyed the crunchiness of the Italian white bread, and there was a generous layer of salty stracchino cheese that worked well with the peppery baby arugula. The flavors of this sandwich would exact some fondness from the diners, but likely won’t fill them up.

Piccolo Cafe lasagna

A truly mediocre lasagna bolognese ($9) had little to no saving graces. The top layer was leathery, tough, and unappealingly stale. Between the layers of noodles, there was nary any ‘bolognese’ to be found, and the dominant flavor profile of the dish was of grease. And again, the portions won’t come close to filling you up for lunch.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, for in the dessert department there was a tempting panettone, and they seemed to be doing brisk business with an impressive looking brownie. I’ll certainly return for a cup of that reliably roasted Italian coffee and for a sampling of their sweets. I’ll just be skipping the savory.

Piccolo Cafe (website and menu), 274 W. 40th (btw. 7+8th), 212-302-0143


  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Those portions and food look embarrassing.

  • I tried to get in there opening week, but the line was off the heezie for sheezie.

  • I went the morning that was supposed to be their grand opening, but they weren’t open yet. Didn’t bother going back.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    That lasagna looks downright disgusting. The top almost looks like pizza crust. Also, it’s called “theft” when, as you so delicately put it, a counter person helps himself to a tip without asking.

  • They jacked Chris’s dollar and gave him crappy looking lasagna along with puny portions. That totally sucks arse. Well, maybe the guy doesn’t know how to count change. Either way, still sounds unimpressive.

    Eh, I’ll be having my coffee elsewhere.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I love Piccolo Cafe! Finally a nice lunch option and not another standard food option, are we talking about the same place? I’ve been here mostly everyday since they opened and my favorite items are: Croissants, Lasagna Bolognese, Panino #7 and Fettucini Bolognese, everything I had was very good and generously portioned. I’ve been invited many times to sample their Biscotti and once waiting for my coffee I had a free croissant just came out from the oven, it was delicious! I’ll definitely keep supporting this new cozy place

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I tried their Cappuccino at the Union Square Xmas market last year, and was shocked they couldn’t froth milk.

    It wouldn’t even pass for a Latte, and it was so watered down, had I ordered an Americano, it would have been a botched Americano.

    They had a line then as well, and a screwball set up to order/pay. The lids, and stirrers were getting tossed around and filthy…. it was a bad scene but I was almost tempted to give them another chance until this review.

    I mean really… since 1938 (somewhere), and you can’t make a capp?

  • OK, so I was by the Port Auth. the other day and stepped into Piccolo for a coffee.

    I have to start with the food. The food looked DISGUSTING.

    But I was just there for the joe.

    The joe is tasty.

    If you like grinds on the bottom of your cup. Seriously.

    Come one now guys.

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