Cafe Spaghetti, NYC

Cafe Spaghetti opened this summer and has gotten a lot of attention in various web sites.

It’s a very casual place that is in the Columbia waterfront area of Brooklyn. I’ve been to at least two prior restaurants in the same space. The garden was always a great spot to spend a summer evening.

The new iteration in the spot is a winner. Cafe Spaghetti has a blend of Italian American dishes with a few more traditional Italian dishes thrown in.

Meatballs and rice balls are great starters. Three to an order so depending on how many people you have figuring out how many to order can get tricky because otherwise you have a duel for the last one unless you take the Solomonic approach and cut it in half.

The fried calamari comes with sliced hot peppers and tomato sauce on the side. I spend a lot of time in New England. If fried calamari is served that way there it’s called New York Style. Funny thing is I almost never see it served that way in NYC until now. Very nice rendition. Only complaint is that the portion is sort of small.

There’s also a couple of salad for anyone who feels the need to be a bit abstemious.

Mains include several pastas and an OG chicken francese and a very cheesy eggplant parm. The parm is great for sharing. The namesake spaghetti dish is basic but tasty. We had a bit left over from one dinner and my wife asked for it to be packed up. The next day I opened the container and saw the pasta had congealed in a block and I realized there was an unhealthy but taste enhancing amount of butter used in the sauce a la Hazan. Butter makes everything taste better.

Wine list is basic but reasonably priced.

A very nice neighborhood spot. Get there before the weather turns. The garden is an amazing spot to spend an evening.

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Like you, we have been to several previous places in that spot. Also, like you, we’ve heard a lot about this place. However, unlike you, we haven’t gone yet. Your review sounds like it was more than just okay, but nothing great (other than the garden itself). And, as I’m an eggplant parm. type of guy, this rendition doesn’t sound all that. So, really, should we go?

It’s not fabulous over the top food but it is very well prepared. I can make a very good eggplant parm and it’s one of my favorite dishes. Was what I had at Cafe Spaghetti the best? No, but I was more than content with it. Nothing jumped out as stellar but the complete package was. The sum was greater than the individual parts. The food was good. The service was good. The setting was good. The prices very reasonable. Add that all up and I get to excellent in totality.

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In my experience, fried calamari with sliced hot peppers served that way is called Rhode Island Style. I live on Cape Cod. I prefer it with cocktail sauce rather than marinara and it’s usually not a problem.

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@retrospek As the token native Rhode Islander, I was about to similarly chime in. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any place serving “NY Style” calamari.

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Pete Wells reviewed Cafe Spaghetti in today’s NY Times. (Actually posted yesterday, which is when I read it.) Gave it 2 stars.

This is the menu of a place I go to in CT.

http://pastacosi.com/menus/dinner-menu/

They offer calamari two ways. Traditional and New York. The NY version is with peppers. At least in CT that’s what they call it. The only Rhode Island reference I see on CT menus is the occasional mention of Rhode Island clam chowder.

What is a token native? Only born there and never returned?

Argh! Pete Wells ruins another place! I won’t be able to get a table for weeks now.

Maybe you can go back to the food truck now.

Pete Wells is the issue!?

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Pete Wells just opens up the floodgates of the wannabes. I can’t remember when I first heard about Cafe Spaghetti but it was very soon after it opened. I made a mental note. I saw some more stories on eater among sites if I recall. Had a friend who went and confirmed it was a good spot so we tried it out. Most recent visit was the weekend before last and it took me a bit to get to write about it.

The NY Times has a lot of people who read its review and then descend on places. I recall many years ago pre internet ubiquity there was an Acadian restaurant we discovered. The food was fabulous and there was hardly anyone there as most people had no idea what Acadian food is. There was a review in The NY Times and we went right after it came out and that was a mistake. The place was slammed and service was horrible and the food not the same. Clearly the place was overwhelmed. We didn’t go back for almost 6 or 9 months. Had to wait for the flood tide to ebb. Seen a version of this happen too many times. Good for business bad for the early adopters.

I read comments on The NY Times review. It’s always amazing to me how people will slam a place without even trying it. And since it’s an Italian American place the authentic Italian food argument among people who supposedly know the difference rears it’s head again.

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The NYT reviews are about where print media is. “Wannabes” read Eater, Infatuation, Grub Street, and all the rest long before the NYT review comes out. But anyway. Expecting something to stay under the radar is contrary to the restaurant’s own goals and actions, as many are undoubtedly using a publicist/social media consultant to get everyone to come to them. And if you read about them in Eater before you went, well their strategy worked.

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