As the last days of summer wind down, I find myself craving pasta and bountiful bowls of focaccia with a light olive oil drizzle. So where can a gal find a reasonably priced (I’m staring straight at you, Eataly!) bowl of fresh pasta on the Upper West Side that won’t have me reaching for a pint of Luna & Larry’s after I see the bill?
After a very exhausting episode of shoe shopping, I was about ready to devour a whole Tofurky, complete with all the trimmings. Luckily, there was a Piccolo nearby (they also have a Midtown West location at 40th between 7th & 8th) and of course, I took full advantage!
The interior is very casual and rustic, with weathered wood accents and booth-style seating at one end of the room and a small bar at the other side (the café seats about 16, when you include the bar). I found it very cozy and inviting, and the service was stellar as well. Piccolo is not extremely vegan friendly, so I had to request that the dishes be made without animal ingredients. The waiter was very accommodating and the service in general was quite warm and friendly.
I had the gnocchi alla sorrentina, which our cute curly-haired waiter recommended would taste the best in a vegan version. I usually don’t even like gnocchi, since it’s usually too thick and chalky, as they often put the actual potato inside a semolina shell and it ends up all dry and tasteless. That’s why I was happy to find the Piccolo version of gnocchi was all soft, yummy potato and no gross semolina shell.
The pasta came in pillowy, amply filling bites that were as fun to actually bite into as it was to eat. The white button mushrooms were perfectly roasted and tasted buttery (don’t worry, no actual butter!), and went great with the tangy tomato & basil pasta sauce. This is definitely one of my new favorite pasta dishes of all time!
Best of all, Piccolo provides a complimentary bread basket with which to scoop up the rest of that lovely tomato sauce and comes with a light spray of olive oil and rosemary. As if I needed more delicious carbs! Ah, well.