When I first reviewed Cafe Altro Paradiso, I couldn’t help but compare it to Estela, its older, more accomplished sister restaurant, and in doing so, I set myself up for disappointment. The food at Estela was quirky and delicious, whereas Cafe Altro Paradiso’s by comparison seemed a little too conventional. It’s been awhile now since I’ve been to either restaurant, so when I recently had lunch at Cafe Altro Paradiso, I felt like I could eat with more of an open mind, as faded memories of past meals exerted less of an influence.
Brunch is really where the restaurant shines. The elegant dining room, which gets flooded with light during the daytime hours, is a prime spot for a leisurely midday meal. The menu is perfectly edited to offer the type of brunch food that guests want, without giving in to the mainstream too much. There’s only one egg dish, but benedict is nowhere in its name, and there is the requisite burger, but with unexpected twists of gorgonzola cheese and radicchio. In the sweet category, the insane sticky bun is a must. If it’s a stretch to order it standalone as a brunch entree, then split it amongst a group of friends as a starter.
While you might be inclined to steer towards eggs and smoked fish, it’s the more traditional lunch selections that are very strong, particularly the sandwiches. The cod in the baccala fritto fish sandwich was perfectly fried without any unsightly, oily residue, and the dollop of mayo was just the right amount of rich. The chicken milanese was prepared similarly with all crisp and no grease, and the slight twists of what tasted like Japanese shiso and a little spicy salsa verde gave it an interesting complexity. I’m going to throw in the wagyu burger in here as well. It’s certainly fancier than the typical juicy patty with cheese, but like when you get upgraded on a plane, you won’t complain about it. Their upscale version of french fries, patate fritte, which come with the burger, are also incredible. They are more like thick wedges than typical shoestring fries, but they taste like pure gold.
Cafe Altro Paradiso
234 Spring St (between 6th Ave and Varick St)
New York, NY 10013