By Dane Feldman
Photo by Dane Feldman.
Arco Cafe is an Italian-Sardinian restaurant located on Amsterdam Ave between 103rd and 104th Street in Manhattan. It sits in a part of the neighborhood that is both functional and a little more than just up-and-coming. Other busy bars and restaurants line the blocks both to the north and south of Arco, yet Arco is a popular spot–for good reason.
Arco is open seven days a week and serves lunch and dinner on weekdays. Weekend brunch is available as well, but I have yet to try that. Lunch and dinner fall under the same menu, the all day menu, which offers appetizers, salads, pasta, main courses, sides, and desserts.
Because the pastas are homemade at Arco and I was dining with someone who had already been (and thus vouched quite strongly for the pasta), my eyes made a beeline for the pasta section. On a brutally cold night, I figured I had an excuse to order the Gnocchi Montanara: potato gnocchi with mushrooms and bacon in cream sauce.
For a moment after placing my order, I was regretful. Why didn’t I try the Culurgiones (Sardinian dumplings with potatoes and mint in tomato sauce—so different!) or the Alisanzas Di Sardegna (Sardinian pasta with onions and pork belly in tomato sauce)?
But when my fated dish came, I had forgotten all about what I could have tried. The gnocchi was perfect—dense, small, and delicious. The mushrooms were fresh and the bacon was just what I needed. Would I order it again? Yes, in a heartbeat, but the other pasta dishes on Arco’s menu are just as intriguing. I’ll have to refrain from the Gnocchi Montanara for a while, but it won’t be too long. I intend to frequent Arco Cafe in the months to come.
The restaurant serves wine, beer, and soft drinks. Italian beers are offered on draft and a nice selection of Italian wines is available as well. I went for the Peroni on tap and was surely not disappointed. For a reasonable price, I was poured a large glass of the pale lager.
The service here is great—the restaurant is owned and operated by Italian immigrants who bring a certain homegrown flair to the restaurant. They’re friendly, attentive, and even a little bit insistent in a good way (if that makes any sense).
The space itself is dimly lit and open, yet comfortable. Arco Cafe is highly rated across the board and now I know why.