Arco Café – A Taste of Sardinia on UWS

Arco Cafe CrabThe little joys in life.  Walking in Central Park, conversing with a three year old again, eating ice cream on a hot day, watching an entire show with your kids without an erectile dysfunction commercial these days, and stumbling upon a restaurant without any prior research and having a good meal.  What?  Ziggy?  Are you ill?  Did you forget to pick a place prior to your visit to Central Park North.  That’s very unlikely of you.  Oh I did pick a place alright, but it just happened to be in East Village for a stop on the drive back.  A change of plans as we felt like eating right there and then, and so this little gem was discovered.

Upper West Side has always been a culinary wasteland in my mind compared to other neighborhoods, but that notion is based on history rather than present times.  The truth is anything past 75th street is pretty much a foreign area to me.  And if I’m driving anywhere near there, it usually means I’m on my way out of town.  So finding something rather good in that part of the woods felt satisfying and refreshing.  Like finding an authentic Peruvian on the Venice Beach Boarwalk last month.  Or perhaps the hummus obsessed inner Ziggy read it a Acco, a town in North Israel boasting some of the best hummus on the planet

Arco Cafe

Courtesy of Arco Cafe

Arco is one of those places where you need to pay special attention to the specials board.  The only thing better than menus?  No menus.  Something Yogi Berra who passed yesterday might say (RIP).  Arco has a menu of course as its almost impossible to be without one in NYC unless your name is Momofuku Ko.  But its the board that’s got the freshest, most exciting goodies.  Like the pasta special that looked like Strozzapretti with eggplant and dry ricotta.  Or the expertly cooked soft shell crab which was sitting on this simple but addictive string bean salad.  Swordfish, a fish I’m not fond of.  While this swordfish did not rock my world and turned me into a fan, I found it more enjoyable and not as dry as others I tried in the city.

Malloreddus is small Sardinian Cavateli.  The only other Malloreddus I’ve had was at Mercato in Hell’s Kitchen, a place that has more things in common with Arco.  This Malloreddus was topped with a sausage ragu and tomato sauce that will convert any “red sauce” haters.  No complaints about the Caprese nor the Fritto Misto (more great spicy red sauce).  The only dish I would not order again is the Gnocchi which was the fresh, super soft kind (I prefer a tougher texture), but that’s just personal preference.  I’m guessing its a good idea to stick to the Sardinian stuff here.  Desserts were good.

Arco is the type of neighborhood place that needs to be cherished. Very often we eat at places that make us feel like we just ate at a corporation (I’m looking at you Casa Mono) that only cares about serving you as soon as possible in order to free your table.  While family owned places like Arco, Mercato, and Bar Pitti, whether you agree or disagree with their tactics sometimes, have more of a personality, more personable, and understand how to make you happy.  Check out Arco!

Arco Cafe
886 Amsterdam Ave
$$$
Recommended Dishes: Malloreddus, Specials
Arco Cafe MalloreddusArco Cafe gnocchi Arco pasta special

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Categories: New York City, Upper West Side | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Arco Café – A Taste of Sardinia on UWS

  1. Randall Forbes

    Was your strozzapreti-like pasta the Sardegnan maccarones de busa, which is elongated gnocchi formed around a knitting needle?

    Cavetelli doesn’t usually have any saffron, and malloreddus often does, but I think the real difference is that malloreddus are pressed against a handmade wicker basket to obtain the ridged surface, whereas the surfaces of cavatelli are left smooth.

    • Yes, its Maccarrones de Busa. I don’t believe they wrote it as such on the specials board (maybe just macaroni), but looks like you are correct. Its the last picture

  2. Randall Forbes

    Some of the strozzopreti I have eaten in Italy really deserves the name (I’m not a priest but it’s tough, chewy stuff to get down) while the maccarones de busa I’ve eaten is slippery and not as much of a chore to get through. I’m glad to see somebody bringing Sardegnan island food to the island of Manhattan. I hadn’t realized it existed until reading your post. There is an excellent Sardegnan restaurant in San Francisco called La Ciccia but it’s more high-end. Good wine list. If you get back out there you might want to try it (although its inconveniently located out in Noe Valley).

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