Caffe Cicero Review
1245 First Street
Caffe Cicero website
Caffe Cicero menu (breakfast menu, can't seem to find the dinner one...)
Directions to Caffe Cicero
Mon - Wed: 8:30 am to 9 pm, Th-Sat: 8:30 am to midnight, Sun: 8:30 am - 4 pm
Caffe Cicero food
Caffe Cicero's approach to food is somewhere between a bar and a cafe. Not as good as what you'd generally expect from a cafe, but better than you'd generally expect for a bar. You go there when you want a casual lunch or a late dinner when you don't want to deal with a bigger restaurant, aren't looking for anything upscale, and you're just sort of hanging out and you want food that meets that energy level. Ie, if you're not expecting much, Caffe Cicero is actually ok and might surprise, but if you are expecting much, then Caffee Cicero's unevenness will probably get to you.
Breakfast options are a little pricey with most starting at $10. Aspires to be more than diner food but not on par with the better breakfast places in the area. Make your omelets with a wide variety of fillings from the classics to things like prosciutto, salami, chorizo. Here’s a picture of their croissant breakfast. $10? Eggs, sausage, bacon, or ham, cheese, hollandaise sauce, and breakfast potatoes which were slightly spicy and tasty. Sometimes breakfast potatoes in general come out on the lame and underseasoned side, but not these. And there’s some cinnamon, baked apple slices with golden raisins.
For lunch, you also have pizzas, calzones, some simple pastas (pesto, alfredo, marinara). Below is my prosciutto mushroom pizza. Sort of a wimpy pizza. Dough was too soft for my taste, and that's just way too much cheese. So, it's not going to take away any business from the local pizzerias in town, but it's not like it was inedible or anything.
Some sandwiches like grill chicken, meatball, BLT, teriyaki, etc. They're some of the better dishes at Caffe Cicero as the bread tends to be surprisingly consistent and solid (which makes me wonder if they really make it. Heh.), and their fries are usually good (some stinkers at times). Calzones. Appetizers like calamari, salad (fajita, ceasar, soup) nachos, and buffalo wings. Like I said, a blend between a café, bar, and restaurant. Dinner menu shifts to more involved foods like chicken pot pie, more pasta selections, etc.
Overall, for Caffe Cicero, the food isn't great, but it's sufficiently hearty enough that I will go if I don't want the bother of a traditional restaurant but want something more filling than a take-out or a taco truck. Sometimes, you just want to eat in low to middle-gear. But I really wish they were more consistent in their delivery so I could recommend them without so many reservations.
Caffe Cicero setting and service
Caffe Cicero has a pretty simple setup inside. It has a bit
more of a bar feel than restaurant as you can see by their site. It is fairly
small and sits about maybe 35 inside in an open floor plan and then perhaps
another 15 outside. They have those big wall-sized window setups which they
open up when the weather allows it which opens things up. There is some art for
sale hangs on the restaurant which is sort of common in the area. A large, old
bar setup is the centerpiece of the restaurant with a TV and two monitors up
Service is usually friendly but can be a bit addled. Friendly and informal but they try to leave you to your business. But if they start to get meaningfully busy, then you can be for some lumpy times. The food starts taking a lot longer to get out, the service starts to get lost more, etc. Not exactly a place you want to go if you want to get in and out in a hurry. You have to basically watch over them and make sure you get your stuff.
I think that on Thursday and Friday, they have things like an open mic for things like poetry readings, music, political discourse, etc. Obviously, those are the nights we try to avoid because we’re anti-social and lame. :-) We usually go to Caffe Cicero to have an informal meal when we’re too tired to cook or go somewhere nicer. During tourist season, you’re likely to see people of all sorts, but during non-tourist hours, you’ll see a few locals doing work on their laptops, reading, etc. I wouldn’t mind a few more restaurants like Caffe Cicero (but less uneven), because the city of Napa is a little lacking in mid-range restaurants, particularly for dinner.
One other nice thing about Caffe Cicero is that they’re open relatively late as downtown Napa restaurants go which close annoyingly early. They close at 9:00 pm on Mon – Wed but goes to midnight on Th – Sat.
Price of our meal
1 breakfast + 1 pizza (2 toppings) w/tax and tip: $27
1 appetizer + 2 entrees w/tax and tip : $35
Other Caffe Cicero review and links
- Some pretty brutal reviews over at Yelp
- Some more favorable reviews at ilovenapa.com
- Restaurants.com reviews