Piccolo Cafe has two locations in Manhattan (and a third on the way), both of which are designed with reclaimed materials to emphasize a focus on sustainable, local products. The owners were coffee roasters in Italy and the menu reflects their origin; truffles panini, prochiutto and mozzarella di bufala omelettes, and housemade gnocchi. We visited the original location in Gramercy for breakfast.
We started with the Truffle Egg Sandwich ($9): organic eggs mixed with mild mushroom tapenade and topped with balsamic greens and tomatoes on a toasted baguette. It's a nice sandwich, but it does suffer from under-seasoning. The balsamic on the salad replaces the salt but overpowers the mushrooms; a little salt would better bring out the flavors. Perhaps more significant was the lack of truffle essence. Had it been billed as a mushroom and egg sandwich, it would actually be very good, but as a truffle egg sandwich, it seemed to be missing an essential ingredient.
A Parmigiano Cheese and Egg Sandwich ($6.50) was filling enough, but unfortunately one of the namesake ingredients was again missing: we found the cheese to be undetectable and the sandwich, therefore, to be unremarkable.
Fortunately, the WORKS Egg Sandwich ($10) turned things around. It was definitely the best breakfast item we tasted. The addition of salty prosciutto made all of the ingredients stand out and the result was rich, savory, and well-balanced.
If you're looking for more egg and less bread, however, you might try something off the omelette menu. We ordered he Pesto Omelette ($8), a nicely cooked, simple omelette, with a light topping of basil pesto. I appreciated that the pesto tasted more of basil and pine nuts than of garlic and olive oil (especially key for a morning meal).
The Mozzarella di Bufala and Prosciutto ($10) was also delicious. The mozzarella tasted of fresh cream; the prosciutto—the same salty strips we tasted on the sandwich—looked beautiful and, again, added balance to the mild eggs and cheese.
We might have stopped there, but it's hard to pass up a Nutella Panino ($5). However I'm afraid this one isn't worth giving into temptation if you are after ample chocolate-hazlenut spread. The Nutella disappears between the thick slices of toast and the sandwich tastes more of bread than of Nutella.
While we found the breakfast selection to be a bit uneven, we would return for the WORKS and, based on the quality of the ingredients, to try lunch—the panini menu looks delicious.
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