Quick Hits – Piccola Cucina 196 Spring Street

(Note: The Australia posts will continue soon.  Up next is the Great Barrier reef, but I need to find a device or store that will let me download the underwater camera memory card onto my computer first.)

Tucked away in the middle of Soho, New York is a little Italian restaurant that makes you feel like you stepped into an Italian dinner party.  Piccola Cucina is one of the branches of four restaurants (one other is in NYC, and the other two are in Miami and Ibiza), and this one from what I gathered is the smallest of the branches and has the most “homey feel”.

The food is very good, with the highlights being the Wild Boar Ragu and Shrimp pasta.  But since the menu changes constantly, I can’t really guarantee that’s what you’ll have an option of.

But regardless, the food is secondary to the atmosphere — That’s why you should go.  The restaurant only sits about 20 people at most, and everyone is shoulder to shoulder like a can of sardines.  Now this in general would bother me, but the restaurant makes it less awkward by having a boisterous, inviting feel.  Everyone is talking to the tables next to them, inviting each other to try different dishes.  The table next to us told us we needed to order a delicious sardine appetizer dish that wasn’t on the menu.  They had been told the same thing by the previous table and were paying forward the suggestion.  We did the same to the table next to us as we were wrapping up.

The kitchen is practically on top of the dining area, and you can see the hustle and bustle of literally way too many cooks in a small kitchen.  Nevertheless, you can tell the cooks are loving what they do, yelling and singing while they make some fine cuisine.  The wait staff is super friendly, inviting you to try and speak Italian with them, and blasting Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York (coming from Boston I generally hate this song, but it was too charming not to smile).  The restaurant got really rowdy when all the lights dimmed and the entire place sang happy birthday to one poor red-faced customer a couple tables over.

At the end, most checks come with mints, a chocolate, or fortune cookies.  This place gives you a freaking cannoli.  We were almost too full to eat it, but it was too delicious not to wolf down.

So it’s not a great place for a first date because of the noise, but if you’re in the area looking for a fun place to eat, give Piccola Cucina a try.

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