Paradiso Lost…

Ravioli
Ravioli

Cafe Altro Paradiso had me at hello.

I wished I had turned around and said goodbye.

Damn, this restaurant pissed me off.

As in a dysfunctional relationship, the sex was great, but spending quality time together was insufferable.

Here are the facts.

The food at Cafe Altro Paradiso is delicious.

The staff and ambiance is a major turn off.

We strolled into the new SoHo restaurant on a wet and humid Saturday night.

Cafe Altro Paradiso is situated near Sixth Avenue and is buffered from the traffic by a small tree-filled plaza called SoHo Square.

The trees have more personality than the staff.

The hostess greeted us lukewarmly.

Our table was awaiting our arrival.

Sure, who wouldn’t desire a table abutting the hostess stand inches from the front door.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Bar, Cafe Altro Paradiso
Bar, Cafe Altro Paradiso

We were happy to wait for another more desirable table at the bar.

We ordered a martini from the humorless bartender with the appeal of chewing gum on the bottom of your new Manolo.

IMG_5377

The $15 martini arrived in a urine sample size specimen cup.

As with a rear view mirror, this object looks larger in the photo.

I starting channeling Oliver Twist, “Please Sir, I Want Some More!”

We chatted with a pleasant SoHo resident and 20 minutes later the hostess with the snake tattoo arrived to ungraciously herd us to the second worst table in the dimly lite dining room.

This time we were shoehorned into the corner table at the end of the 75-seat dining room right under the kitchen window…kitchen heat radiating out.

Okie dokie, let’s get the hell out of here.

Theresa, RHONJ photo ridgewoodblog.net
Teresa Guidice, RHONJ photo ridgewoodblog.net

The manager requested that we wait a bit longer as tables were turning over.

In all honesty, I should have channeled Teresa Guidice from The Housewives of New Jersey and turned the shitty table over, but I was wearing my Louboutin sandals and did not want to jeopardize their safety.

Back to the bar to continue our conversation. 15 minutes later we were rewarded with a decent table.

I never make a fuss at restaurants, but the rejected tables really sucked.

No one made an attempt to acknowledge the glitch with even a fake all gums flashing, smiley face apology.

Our uncharismatic waiter was a Texan and a Dallas Cowboy fan…come on, could this evening get any worse?!

We had long ago finished our thimble of vodka so we ordered a bottle of wine which I personally needed to assuage the rage.

We selected Casal de Arman Ribeiro 2014, a lovely Spanish wine ($52).

Next came the ordering.

Fish Crudo
Fish Crudo

We opted for the Fluke Crudo with caper berries and hints of lemon ($16). It was tasty.

Burrata
Burrata

The Burrata salad with preserved lemon was excellent ($17).

We requested bread and received one slice for sharing. The generosity matched the martini.

Seared Octopus
Seared Octopus

The Seared Octopus and chickpea salad was tender and savory ($18).

Ravioli
Ravioli

The Truffle Ravioli di Ricotta was fabulous…overpriced¬†with teeny, tiny slivers of asparagus ($24).

I reconstructed the lonely asparagus and it didn’t even transform into one whole spear.

Swordfish
Swordfish

Our main was Swordfish with salsa verde and potatoes which would only fill a teaspoon ($29).

The lack of personality and hospitality was surprising since Estela, Cafe Altro Paradiso’s first endeavor, is such a warm, inviting establishment.

Owners Ignacio & Thomas Carter photo:nytimes.com
Owners Ignacio Mattos & Thomas Carter photo:yana paskova nytimes.com

The Chef de cuisine is Aidan O’Neal under the direction of chef and owner Ignacio Mattos who has worked at Chez Panisse, Zuni Cafe, Il Buco and Isa..

The other partner is Thomas Carter, formerly of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a front-of-house specialist with a concentration in wine.

Beyond Estela and Cafe Altro Paradiso, the partners plan to open another Estela in the Met Breuer, formerly the Whitney Museum on the upper east side.

I cannot find fault with the cuisine.

Portion control is emphasized.

I do suggest a blindfold and ear plugs if you feel it necessary to visit this unwelcoming restaurant.

Food for thought…could Cafe Altro Paradiso be so contentious and annoying because it is situated next to the Trump SoHo Hotel?!

Arrogance and bombastity is in the air.

Cafe Altro Paradiso 234 Spring Street in SoHo. Open for dinner Sunday-Thursday 5:30-11pm, Friday and Saturday 5:30-Midnight. Brunch Saturday and Sunday 11:30am-2:30pm.

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