Cafe Fiorello Does Not Impress

Ugh this is one of those posts I DREAD writing.

Like, I almost didn’t write it.

However, I realized that I owe it to you, my readers, to give you my honest opinions.

And, honestly…I don’t know how this restaurant has been around so long.

Cafe Fiorello has long stood across the street from Lincoln Center – prime real estate all year long, but especially good in the holiday season. Hordes of little girls and their grandparents flock to see “The Nutcracker” and afterwards, who wouldn’t like a little pasta? You would think the dining room would be at the top of its game to entice clients who otherwise might not come this way, to return in the warmer months.

If that’s the case…ai yai yai.


The dining room si large and loud, but not unhappily so  just the generally happy buzz of contented diners. It’s on the fancier side of things, but it’s very kid friendly – really the perfect family setting.


Bread basket

Tasty. The multigrain bread is dry and forgettable but the foccacia is lovely – vaguely garlicky and studded with fresh basil. Best of all, there is a pesto butter sandwiched in the slices, like delightful, creamy, salty surprises throughout the soft bread. Definitely enjoyable!



Okay, nothing more. Nowhere near Amali. Nowhere near a lot of places. A little dry. A little bland. A little…little. Where is the olive oil? The seasonings? The “more than 1 measly slice of tomato?”  All this is lacking and it’s still $18? It’s a miss.



They serve their purpose, even though they did come to the table lukewarm. I love the nutty, crunchy pistachios on top and the soft texture of the meatballs. But they are quite one note. The sauce is too sweet and the balls are too bland.

That’s what she said.

Where is the fragrant oregano or the kick of Sicilian chiles? Where is the layer of sharp pecorino cheese or the sliver of melting garlic in the sauce? For the love of Pete, where is the SALT?


Spaghetti carbonara with truffles.

Sure, I make the best carbonara. But this verrsion could at least TRY to measure up. Or, you know, it could be lazy and not offer any taste or texture other than “gloppy.” It could be lacking salt and have steamed the asparagus into oblivion. The egg yolk is wonderfully unctuous but..again..where is the salt? Or pepper? The pasta itself is the saving grace – it is obviously fresh and is al dente with a fresh, eggy flavor and ideal texture. Unfortunately, despite the ample shavings on top, it was like the flavor was purposefully sucked out of the truffles. Why? WHY?!

And the service…oh, the service. The night we went, the menu had changed that day. The place was busy. A bathrooms flooded. I get all that – I do. But when you wait an hour and a half for your meal, squinched into a booth that is crowded with patrons on either side, and the wrong meal is brought to you? You need more than just a small portion of the rather expensive meal comped.

You need an apology. A visit from the manager. A question about how they can improve. Some attention at all.

Our server was sweet but totally overwhelmed. Dining here was not a great experience.

And in a city with so many winners, why would you come here? For a better meal at half the price, go to The Smith.

Like I said, I hate writing less than stellar reviews…but more than that, I would hate if you wasted your time, money, and stomach space here.

Cafe Fiorello on Urbanspoon


  1. Ttrockwood says:

    I went years ago and just remember it being an expensive crummy meal- too bad they have yet to up their game since there is more competition in the area now.