Piccolino's Cafe Review
1385 Napa Town Ctr
Napa, CA 94559
Monday - Friday: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Saturday - Sunday: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm (Brunch until 2:30pm)
Piccolino's Cafe food
Piccolino's wants to serve up "Old World Italian" cooking, but the menu and the restaurant always comes off to me as more Italian-American given the likely familiarity of the choices to its guests. The food overall is ok. I've heard it described as a place for "competent meals", and I think that's accurate overall give or take. I think the food is better here than say the Olive Garden, and the prices are similar and the service is better.
Here's a shot of the puttanesca below. Overall, just ok. Too heavy on the tomato sauce for my tastes, and I would've liked more of the puttanesca-specific parts to stand out like anchovies, the heat, olives, etc. I suspect the dishes at Piccolino's are to some extent intentionally made more accessible even if it mutes the flavor profile.
My wife had one of their specials. In this case, it was a chicken with prosciutto meal which came with a salad and spumoni dessert. This was a load of food. Breaded and lightly fried chicken wrapped up with ham (was expecting something more like prosciutto di parma but alas...) and then a mozzarella sauce. No points for nuance, but you know, I can't say we didn't like it.
Piccolino's Cafe gets knocked by foodies as a tourist trap and more cliche rather than authentic. Is it the first place that comes to our mind if we have guests coming over? No. Do we go often? Nah. We like other places better.
But Piccolino's has been around for about 10 years now, and there have been a lot more restaurants that have come and gone since then (including some that we liked more.) It is actually more full than your average restaurant in the area. So, obviously, there is a real market demand for the "more is more" approach backed with familiar dishes at lower prices.
Piccolino's Cafe setting and service
Piccolino's Cafe has one of the better locations in downtown Napa. Lots of foot traffic, big empty windows showing off those eating there, outside eating area, etc. Inside, the decor aims more for something friendly and informal, but it's not something you're going to find particularly memorable. In some ways, it's a bit kitschy. It's sort of built to remind you repeatedly that it's an Italian restaurant. Everything from the pictures and drawings on the wall to the Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin songs coming in from the speakers and so on. Live music in the form of a fellow with an accordion singing Italian songs (which seem chosen more for recognition than anything else) occurs on Wednesdays, I think with other occasional live music guests. Not quite sure so check out the site if you like (or don't like) that kind of thing. Like I said, it comes off as much more Italian-American than Old World Italian.
The service is ok and usually pretty friendly. We've had good service; we've had some mix-ups on others even when they weren't that busy. Meh.
I can see how others might find the atmosphere more on the open and fun side. It's family friendly too which is a rarity in the area. The prices are cheaper than other restaurants in the area and has a pretty good marketshare on those who can't dump $100+ on a meal but want something better than the local Applebees. And the folks who eat there are definitely less of the rich-and-powerful or young-and-fabulous crowd and more like normal people. I've heard some people say that it's the tourists that keep it alive, and although it certainly benefits from tourism, it's popular with the Napa middle class, and the townies are what keeps restaurants alive year after year when the tourists are gone.
Price of our meal
- Appetizer, 2 glasses of wine, 2 entrees, 1 dessert w/tax & tip: $75
- 2 entrees w/ tax & tip: $35
Other Piccolino's Cafe reviews and links