Cafe Cello Still Serves Amazing Pork (and Possibly My Favorite Cuban Sandwich in Midtown)


When I started working near 46th Street and 6th Avenue, I had no idea that I was just down the block from Midtown Lunch royalty. Zach first wrote about Cafe Cello in July 2006 and loved the roast pork so much, it’s been the Midtown Lunch food logo ever since (on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, etc.)  I didn’t know any of that when a co-worker brought in their cubano sandwich and left me with a case of lunch envy. I knew I can’t be the only one who has forgotten about this place, so I decided a thorough re-investigation was in order… you know, for science.


After seeing my friend’s cubano, I knew it was the first thing I had to try. When I ordered, it became apparent that I was in for something wonderful. First, I was shocked to see them shred off what looked like nearly a platter’s worth of pork and take it to the griddle. It was also interesting to see the use of pickle chunks instead of the thin, flat slices. Finally, it’s worth noting that they toast the bread on the griddle instead of pressing the whole sandwich after it’s assembled.

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The sandwich is fat and overflowing, with generous helpings of pork, ham and cheese and a nicely satisfying sour crunch from the pickles. The bread is crisp on the inside, but not so flattened that it falls apart on you. Honestly, I can’t think of a better cubano that I’ve ever had – and yes, I’ve tried the one at Margon.


The roast pork on its own is a pretty amazing thing. The serving is generous, the pork moist and rich and I’m happy to report they still lay that nice, crackly piece of skin over the top for you to gnaw on. Since I’ve started going, the guy behind the counter has come to expect my request for extra skin and now he just gives me bigger pieces all the time.

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On Thursdays, I break from the porkfest and get the weekly special of tripe stew. Most people have a pretty solid stance on tripe, so I’m not trying to convert anyone. Still, the slightly chewy give, not as firm as calamari, but deeply satisfying hits the spot for me every time. It’s even better once the sauces and rice are mixed together for a meal so warm and filling, I walk out the house on a rainy day looking forward to lunchtime.

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Between the pork and tripe, I get too distracted to try too many other dishes, but one week, I did check out the beef stew. It was fine, but nothing to right home about. The flavors were all there, but the beef was a little dried inside and nothing about it got me particularly excited.


I’m not even remotely Catholic, but the fried bluefish looks like it could be a nice fish Friday lunch for those practicing lent.


If I have any complaint about Cello, it’s that the plantains sort of suck. Not ripe enough to be maduros, but not green enough to be tostones, they aren’t sweet or salty and they have the texture of cardboard. They’re a miss, but I can never actually bring myself to tell them not to give me any.


There’s plenty of other options that I always consider – including the fried chicken – that never quite catch my attention enough to try instead of my usual favorites, but they do look pretty tasty and are worth exploring.

Just as Zach pointed out all those years ago, you can walk by Cello a million times and assume it’s another generic low-end deli, but you’d be cheating yourself out of some of the best pork in town.

Cafe Cello, 48 w. 46th Street, 212-764-8701


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    I am so there tomorrow. Some of those maduros looks kinda soft though…not all of them, but some of them.

  • An “A-” review only because of wrong use of the word “right” and no prices. Does it get crazy crowded at lunch?

  • Im getting a food coma just looking at those photos. Nice writeup Clay!

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    Do they ever run out of the pork after the lunch rush?

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      went by at 2:15 or so this afternoon and they were out of pork.

    • my colleague used to go there all the time, and I would drooooooool all over his dish.

      He told me that they “usually” run out “quickly”, and you have to go early.

      I forgot all about this. I have been meaning to try this for 6 years. Thanks for the reminder!! Nice job.

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    Is there seating or is it just take out?

  • there are a few seats there. i will also go on record as saying that cafe cello and their pork are one of the best things ive discovered through midtown lunch.

  • Great write-up, Clay. Thanks.

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    Ok, so I went here & got my sandwich and I have to say…the pork is really juicy, but it seems a bit…flavorless? It’s so weird. It just tastes like juicy meat. I mean, it is a good change from dry meat, but it’s so weird. I wish I had gotten two of those things of green sauce, because it definitely needed it. Also, the sandwich by itself is like $7.95, if I remember correctly, if someone still needed to know.

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    Just went for the Cuban sandwich as well, since I work about 50 ft from here and was intrigued by something being better than Margon. To me though, this isn’t a Cuban.

    It is missing the bite and tang of hot mustard, as they serve it dry and provide cups of hot sauce (average) and a green garlic sauce (pretty good, very garlicky). The diced pickles end up being too concentrated so you don’t get the flavor in multiple bites as you would if they were sliced and layered. The pork itself was good, and there was a lot of it…I wouldn’t say it’s flavorless like above, but at the same time, not flavorful. Loved the bread even though I prefer it to be pressed…it was thick and held up to the sandwich perfectly.

    Overall as a pork sandwich at $7.95 (tax incl) it’s a good value as it’s very filling. But it doesn’t compare to a Margon cuban or many others.

  • What RBS said, tho I like the pickle chunks. Pork is excellent but a Cubano is a pressed sandwich, period. The green sauce is tasty.

    Margon’s Cubano has always seemed like a grease bomb to me – especially when they squirt mayo on it, which is overkill. Sophie’s is the best in midtown imho but in Union City they are cheaper and better.

  • I tried the pork. It was pretty good. It reminded me of some of the better pernil places around like Ruth’s in Chelsea Market. I’m definitely going back when I have some craving for meat on a plate of improperly cooked rice.

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