Cafe Paradiso is a welcome addition to Lincoln Center and is the newest concept from the Fireman Hospitality Group, with a resume including Cafe Fiorello (across the street also in Lincoln Center), The Redeye Grill, Trattoria Dell’Arte, and many others. This new concept is more casual and fast dining, however not by any means losing the quality of the food. Here is what I ate…
My eyes widened with my first sip at how flavorful a basic vegetable soup could be – because it is far from basic. While still rustic I did find it to be very fortified with some hearty vegetables, nice chunks of chicken and some cheese added, which I think is a nice touch. It just so happened to be a rainy day when I visited and I thought it was a perfect meal for the weather.
Presented like a tuna tartare this quinoa salad was out of this world. It was like a party in your mouth with so many different and contrasting flavors that worked together so beautifully and made every bite different. Some components were the sweetness of the fruits, the crunchiness from the nuts and quinoa, a bit of freshness and crunch from the cucumber and veggies, some creaminess from the avocado, a mildness from the dressing, and finally, one of the most impactful elements of all, the fresh cracked pepper which adds such a twist and bit of spice throughout. It was delicious and also light and refreshing. I found it was a wonderful dish, and just in time for Spring.
This sandwich was as good as sandwiches can get. Two factors that make the difference: fresh bread, fresh cold cuts. The rosemary foccacia was so soft and the freshness of all the cold cuts was also clear. The olive relish was just a bonus but its presence was welcome as it added tons of flavor with the brininess of the olives and a tang from what I believe to be mustard. It is a staple item done exceptionally.
The lasagna was meaty in texture but surprisingly light for an entree. The flavor had an almost toasted nuttiness to it from the caramelized cheese, but also a tang and almost sweet flavor from the tomato sauce. It was overall really tasty and balanced.
The prosciutto di parma pizza was also great. I think its unique factor was definitely highlighting the Parmesan cheese which gives a sharper (but flavorful) change up to the typical mozzarella base, and was reintroduced again with chunks of Parmesan cheese on top. I also felt a peppery note from the arugula and absolutely loved the prosciutto, which again was so melt-in-your-mouth fresh.
The dessert and pastry were also really well done. The tiramisu was delicious and was very balanced as far as tiramisus go – it wasn’t overly strong on the coffee flavor nor overly rich and creamy from the marscapone. However it was extremely moist, spongy, and light – so you can definitely make room for it, and you should. The croissant was also very fresh and tasty with a nice creamy surprise to it too. Again it rained, so I finished with some hot cider that also hit the spot.
Final Thoughts: Whether on a time crunch but not looking to sacrifice your standards, or just looking for some more low key dining, Cafe Paradiso is definitely worth checking out.