Here's the rundown on Picasso Cafe on 29th between Park and Madison. This is the original family that owned the Bleeker St location for some 9 1/2 years. They are not affiliated with the restaurant in their old location bearing the same name (disagreement with the landlord).
One thing stands out here. The focus here is on freshness and quality of ingredients. What the food sometimes lacks in flavor and knock down tastiness it IMHO shines in freshness and purity.
The salads shine! Just a couple of drizzles of olive oil on the ones Ive tried. Balsamic and oil sit on each table top.
Insalata del pastore: Great crisp arugala, sun dried tomatoes that are cut into small pieces and are remarcably non-salty. They melt like chocolate in your mouth and the wonderfully creamy goat cheese is some of the best I have had.
Sfzioso: Green salad with a variety of roasted veggies including a very good marinated artichoke.
PASTAS ($10-$12)- Only tried one and it was ok. Both the pasta and sauce were mediocre.
Polpetti Casalinghi: Spaghetti was a little overcooked and the tomato sauce a little sweet for my taste. The meatballs were VERY interesting. Small in size they were so light that they melted in your mouth. Definitely tasted like they were made from veal.
Pizze ($10-$12) - Wonderful fresh mozzerella (made on premisis) on a VERY thin and crispy crust. Haven't been to Italy in close to 10 years but this is how I remember the pizza. The sauce is a little bland IMO but when this pie hits your table right out of the oven there is no way to stop from burning the roof of your mouth.
Diavola: Mozz, sauce and excellent spicey sopressata (Italian salami) that gives the pie a needed kick.
Borgo: Mozz, sauce, wild mushrooms and sausage. His sausages rock.
Pizza Pancetta: Mozz, pancetta, onions, tomatoes, sage, thyme and rosemary. This was my favorite. No sauce at all. Great tasting, not overly salty pancetta and just the right amount of diced tomatoes so as not to make the pie soggy.
Calzone: I loved this calzone stuffed with wild mushrooms, mozz, prosciutto with a little tomato sauce on top. This is for the salt lovers. Amazing calzone shell. Light, cripsy and flavorful. The prosciutto and tomato sauce are salty and IMO it works but this probably will not be aggreeable for everyones taste buds. Owner suggested adding anchovies to the mix but that is where I draw the line :)
GRILL SELECTIONS: ($10-$18) Meat dishes were straigt forward. Limited seasoning but good cuts, cooked well.
Agnello Arrosto: Baby lamb spiced with sage and garlic was a nice portion (3 medium pieces) served with tomatoes and greens. The meat was underspiced but the quality was top notch.
Salsiccia con Broccoli Rabe: The sausage was excellent but the broccoli rabe was soggy and oily.
Bistecca ai Ferri: Again the steak was good and cooked well just not terribly flavorful.
In my three trips Picasso seems to be doing ok business at best. He's in a tough location and many of his regulars from Bleeker St do not know where he has relocated to. The space is comfortable and prices are reasonable. IMO it's definitely worth a trip.
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