Sunday, December 30, 2007

Restaurant: Caffe Cielo

I think the easiest way to start writing about this restaurant is simply by saying two words - Theater District. I can't think of anyone I know that actually eats or goes out in this neighborhood unless they are a tourist, going to a Broadway show, or actually live in the area. Even most people that live in the area venture further west because the food is better, and it's not catering to Midwest tourists. Caffe Cielo is an average Italian restaurant, that on a Saturday night at 8:30 was barely crowded, never a good sign for any place. Wines were about average, both in price and selection, and the prices as a whole were about what you would expect from a touristy area, a few dollars more for everything, and just not worth the price. The price is even worse once you actually start eating. If you like standard Italian food, with big portions, and the price to match, this is the right place.

By no means is this actually "Northern Italian" like the restaurant claims, and my starter of Insalata Graziosa, was quite bland. A nice combo salad on paper with arugula, sun dried tomatoes and mozzarella, the salad needed more dressing and bite than a sprinkle of lemon juice and olive oil. Not to mention the fact that the sun dried tomato totally overpowered any other flavor in the dish because there was too much of it. Others at the table didn't even finish their salads, and the plate of "fresh" mozzarella tomatoes and basil was disappointing. The tomatoes tasted like something from Met Food and the mozzarella was very watery and crumbly.

For a main course I had a grilled swordfish with capers, olives, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and oregano. The swordfish tasted like they forgot to salt and pepper it before grilling, and was a bit over cooked and tough. The sauce was actually quite tasty, but again needed some salt and tended to overpower the normally strong flavor of the swordfish. The other dishes around the table looked nice, but not surprisingly no one finished their meals. While service was nice, the food was very average, and might impress someone visiting New York who only knows Italian food from pizza places and Olive Garden.

Caffe Cielo (why the extra F in Cafe?)

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