Address: 741 N Salina St, Syracuse, NY
Neighborhood: Washington Square (Little Italy)
Cuisine: Cafe, Cakes, Sandwiches, Pastries, Gelato, Wraps
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 7 AM to 7 PM, Friday-Saturday 7 AM to 11 PM, Sunday 7 AM to 7 PM
Parking: Private lot and on-street
Accepts credit cards: Yes
I went into Biscotti Cafe & Gelateria on a Sunday morning. Parking was pretty easy as there were available spots in the private lot. The interior of Biscotti Cafe is great, and from a personal standpoint, looks exactly like a cafe straight out of Boston's Little Italy. Everything was clean - from the freshly painted walls to the checkered pattern tiles. And most importantly, when approaching the main counter you get a great sight of all of the homemade pastries - from eclairs and half moons to cakes and pies.
Inside was a little packed. I assumed that most of the people in here had just gotten out of Assumption Church service. Somehow this made ordering a bit chaotic 1) because there were a bunch of people ordering pastries and cakes to-go and taking up floor space near the counter while they waited 2) because nobody was really standing in a line. It felt like I was at a deli counter at Wegmans except that there was no machine to take a number. Chaos!
The actual lunch menu is a tad small - about six or seven sandwiches and a few salads. But they have a wide selection of pastries, cookies, and other deserts that would satisfy a sugar craving. I have to admit I was a little agitated when it came time for me to order so I regrettably did not get any pastries. Though, I really should have and in hindsight am a little embarrassed to say that I didn't. I was just agitated, so I ended up playing it simple.
We Call It The Rapper: $5.15
Apple Cider: $1.25
There were only a few girls working behind the counter and none of them informed me that I should sit down at one of the tables after I placed my order, so I stood up there waiting for someone to either bring me my food or to ring up my bill. My food was handed to me while I was still up near the counter, so I then brought it up to the register to pay for it. After paying for my meal, one of the waitresses informed the other waitress that she already put my order in on the other cash register and had my tab in that one. All of this is just null and void, but it was just confusing. When ordering in a cafeteria-style setting, I guess I just felt weird by placing an order at the counter and not paying for it immediately afterwards. At any rate...
The cider was great. Served in a warm glass. This hit the spot on a chilly October morning.
The Rapper was chicken breast with pesto mayonnaise, field greens, tomatoes, red onions, Gorgonzola cheese in a tomato wrap. Pretty tasty and I loved the pesto mayo. This was a good wrap and all the ingredients were great. Not a bad price either. The chips were alright, though I must admit I am not a fan of those Kettle Chips or any variation thereof. A bit too stale-tasting for my taste. And the pickle was blah. Fairly soggy.
Looking out the window while eating, it's clear to see that Little Italy still needs some aesthetic work. Many of Salina Street's store fronts are still run down. Having more residential apartments in vacant buildings would improve local business and give the neighborhood more of a unique vibrancy and less of an area that feels half forced and half underutilized. Right now it seemed too much like all the patrons at Biscotti were driving their cars from some other spot in the city, parking outside (this includes myself), finishing their meals, and then driving away. Something like a nearby, used book store (for example) would be a business that could easily coincide with a cafe and could keep Biscotti's patrons in the neighborhood for a bit longer and thereby pump some money into the local economy. But I digress.
I just HAD to get something sweet while I was here no matter what, so I made my way over to the colorful array of gelato on display and made another order...
Mint Chip Gelato: $2.70
Total cost of meal with tax and tip: $10
So airy and delicious. (And this is just a small!). There are really a bunch of different flavors that Biscotti has for gelato, and if you've never had it before, you should really give it a try at this place.
All and all, Biscotti Cafe was decent. I would say that it is way more suited if you happen to be looking for tea, coffee, pastries, and of course, gelato, but I am not so sure if it should really be a destination for an actual meal. Though, it's nice to know that if you're in the city at 10:30 PM on a Saturday night and get the sweet-tooth-urge for homemade fudge squares or a canoli, Biscotti Cafe can fill that void.
And yes, pastries will by my top priority when I come back here.
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