Set a block from the Central Park, the hub of life at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Caffé Opera's Old World charm begins with an artfully aged exterior. A simple wooden sign hangs over an entrance that's flanked by antiqued walls with ornate scalping, and trimmings with Baroque flair.
The main dining area is an intimate space that continues the classic European stylings. Columned walls that rise to high ceilings are adorned with retro posters from opera, ballet and theater from locales like Verona, Paris and Milan. The eclectic mix is joined by iconic images of Sophia Loren and Italian composer Giacomo Puccini, looking out over a handful of candlelit tables.
Everything is made in an open kitchen without use of any electronics, including hand-tossed pizza and hand-cut pasta that is dried on a prominent rack that stands as an object of art. Meals begin with starters like fresh-baked focaccia, bruschetta, and plates of carpaccio - slices of tenderloin with parmesan cheese, capers, and balsamic-vinegar dressing.
Pasta dishes served with handmade sauce are one of the eatery's biggest draws. They include specialties like Lasagne alla Bolognese and Fettuccine Nere Ai Gamberi, tossed with calamari, shrimp, and cherry tomatoes in a white wine sauce. Meat specialties include locally raised tenderloin steak with a sauce of blue cheese and balsamic honey, or served with mushroom-caberbet sauce. Also popular are paninis like prosciutto with an olive-oil based sauce, and salami sprinkled with parsley sauce.
Dessert options include créme brûlée, and crepes with strawberry and blackberry sauces, nutella, or with chocolate and strawberries.