The Piccolo Cafe

August 30, 2011

The Piccolo Cafe focuses on Italian-style paninis, pastas, and coffee. Although I love coffee and pasta, I focused on the paninis.

THE ROASTED TURKEY SANDWICH

I felt really good about the Piccolo Cafe after my first sandwich, the roasted turkey panini which also featured mayo, mesculun greens, and marinated tomatoes (although I couldn’t tell what the tomatoes were marinated in). The turkey was cubed, which was surprising as I thought it would be sliced, and heavily marinated in the mayo. This is one of those sandwiches were the ingredients are combined so perfectly that there is an even amount in each bite. Which in turn means that all of the ingredients go extremely well together and form an almost perfect sandwich.

Sadly, after this sandwich, my other choices were not as wise (or as good).

PROSCIUTTO SANDWICH

Where's the beef?

I’m not a big prosciutto fan to begin with, and this sandwich didn’t do anything to help me change my mind. The main reason: This sandwich was severely lacking in prosciutto. It was more ciabatta than anything. This sandwich also features buffalo mozzarella and arugula but they don’t really add anything to this sandwich because they were also barely there. Although, it does look like there is more arugula that prosciutto, there isn’t really enough of either. This sandwich is also very tough to eat. The sandwich is also very dry, made even drier by crispiness of the ciabatta. The sandwich needs more oil, either olive or EVO, which could possible make the sandwich tastier, and it would also make the sandwich a little softer.

 

TUNA FISH

Lastly, I tried the tuna fish and mozzarella and I was extremely disappointed. The main reason for my disappointment with this sandwich is it tasted exactly like the tuna sandwiches I make at home. The difference is I would have added some extra flavor with pepper, onion, celery, and dried cranberries. SOMETHING needs to be added to enhance the flavor.

When I opened the sandwich the mozzarella looked like it was lumped into one spot at the center of the sandwich rather than spread across the bread. As you reach the butt of the sandwich, it’s all tuna and no mozzarella. It was tasteless and inconsistent, two of the worst things I sandwich can be. I can’t recommend ordering this sandwich because it’s just a regular tuna sandwich that any Tom, Dick, or Harry could make in his own kitchen. And I hate ordering food that I could just as easily make at home.

BREADS

Piccolo offers either ciabatta or focaccia for the paninis. The ciabatta has been one of the few highlights for each sandwich. It’s crisp, airy, and very tasty and works well with all of the sandwiches I ordered.

SIDE

Each sandwich comes with a side “salad”: mesculun greens with oil and vinegar. It’s minimalist yet effective.

THE MENU

The only real problem I have is the lack of description on the menu. For example, “The WORKS OMLETTE” has no information as to what exactly, is in the omlette. Why would I want to order this? I don’t want mystery with my food, especially omlettes. And I have no idea what their definition of “WORKS” is.

CONCLUSION

The sandwiches are moderately priced but you’re definitely taking your chances. Once you find a sandwich you like, stick with that one and don’t stray unless you like to be disappointed in your lunch.

Piccolo Cafe is located at 157 3rd Avenue (www.piccolocafe.us/157-3rd-ave)

Marshall Stack is a small craft beer bar in the Lower East Side that eschews standard pub fare (ie, burgers and wings) for a menu that is reminiscent of a school cafeteria, albeit a very high-end one. However, unlike the cafeteria of your youth, this is one you’d actually want to eat at frequently (it’s also one where you can drink exceptionally good beer). On my last visit, I opted for the sloppy joe sliders, and let me tell you, these are not your father’s sloppy joes. Having previously only had Manwich or cafeteria sloppy joes, these sloppy joe sliders were a revelation. Mainly because I had no idea they could be this delicious.

The sliders are served on small potato rolls, with a heaping of grated cheddar cheese on top. Not being used to eating tasty sloppy joes, the level of spiciness in the middle of each slider was an unexpected (but delicious) surprise. Oddly enough, the spiciness wasn’t apparent near the corners. I realize this sounds weird since it’s a tiny slider, but it’s the truth. Because of this, the second bite, the bite that takes out the entire middle of the slider, is the best overall bite as it seems to be where the true flavor of these slides lies.

Although small, these sliders are flavorful and filling. My only complaint is that I didn’t have a fork to eat the bits that fell onto my plate. Full disclosure: I used my fingers. Yup, I’m part caveman.

As a side dish, the tater tots complete the cafeteria vibe and perfectly pair with pretty much anything on the menu. The tots are airy, which makes them very fluffy and crisp and not greasy whatsoever. If you aren’t hungry for something more substantial, they make a good snack whilst drinking.

It’s cash only and the staff is very knowledgeable about the beers, but I haven’t bothered them with pairing questions yet. I just stick to questions about the beer. Next time I go, I’ll have to figure out which is the best beer to pair with the sliders.

Marshall Stack is located at 66 Rivington St.