Caffe Falai: Best Restaurants NYC Italian between Soho and Nolita
It's been almost four years now since Caffe Falai opened on Lafayette Street, reaching up from Chef Iacopo Falai flagship Falai proper on Clinton, and we've been fans of Caffe Falai's simple, fresh Italian dishes since week one. Then and now, Caffe Falai has been a favorite salad-and-pasta spot in this neighborhood, sitting conveniently on a relatively quiet block on the border between Soho and Nolita. Recently Caffe Falai expanded–more than doubled–its operation by, basically, taking over the store next door and turning it into a second dining room and bar (also very pretty and bright), and then taking over the store next door to THAT and turning IT into the Falai Panetteria, a take-out place with good coffee, lots of baked goods, and a nice selection of panini and such. Falai Panetteria is a terrific new quick-bite/sweet treat/pick-me-up option as you go about your downtown duties (shopping, movies, wandering, etc).
Anyway, Falai Panetteria is a welcome addition to the area, but Caffe Falai is still the best restaurant in NYC here, the kitchen consistently putting out first-rate pastas and salads–they have other things on the Caffe Falai menu, but we can't seem to get past our few favorites–in a comfortable, friendly (if a bit trendy) environment. Take the bright and beautiful Insalata di Asparagi, for example, the crispy thin stalks of green asparagus tossed with bitter frisee, vinegary pickled string beans, and creamy robiola cheese. This is a near perfect summertime dish… though the avocado salad, however they're preparing it that day, is also an excellent choice.
The Caffe Falai pastas have always been good to us as well, whether the Tortelli Di Patate con Ragu Bolognese (sweet, meaty sauce a nice complement to the soft spuds tucked inside chewy pockets of pasta), or the Cappellacci Di Caprino, another stuffed pasta, this time with a sweet red-beet puree, topped with bitter swiss chard, crunchy pine nuts, drizzled with a hazelnut butter sauce. Best of all, however, was a superb Spaghetti Ai Fegatini Di Pollo, a special on our most recent visit and a concoction we've been craving ever since, the chicken liver half-melting all over the chewy pasta, topped with just a sprinkling of parmigiano and a dab of salty, succulent bottarga. Definitely a bit heavy for hot summer's night, and more than a little salty, but liver fiends won't miss this dish.
Caffe Falai Details
Caffe Falai is located on Lafayette Street, just south of Prince Street, and is open daily for breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner, from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. For more information and a look at the Caffe Falai menu, please see the Caffe Falai website.