First Impressions: Café Altro Paradiso

Cafe Altro Paradiso exterior3Back story: Three years after opening Estela on Houston Street, sommelier Thomas Carter and chef Ignacio Mattos partnered on a second restaurant, Café Altro Paradiso, at the corner of Spring and that offshoot of Sixth Ave. Currently serving dinner seven days a week, the restaurant will eventually be open all day.

Cafe Altro Paradiso bar2The vibe: The square, high-ceilinged room brought to mind Balthazar, although I haven’t been to Balthazar in so long that I’m not sure exactly why. (The big mirrors?) The corner space allows for windows on two sides, with the bar on the right as you walk in. The rear left corner, near the kitchen, is down a few steps. The decor is simple but handsome, with wooden wainscoting, leather banquettes, and Art Deco light fixtures. The light changes prettily as dusk shifts to night.

Cafe Altro Paradiso dining room2Menu: The menu is not posted on the bare-bones website, and the date at the bottom implies that it changes frequently. Our server said dishes are meant for sharing and pastas are “mid-course” size (i.e., small). I only went to Estela for the first time last fall, and having read so much about Mattos’s way with vegetables, I was surprised by how meat-driven the menu was. The same goes for Café Altro Paradiso: You can avoid eating animals, but you won’t have many options. We ordered the salami and Parmigiano Reggiano, fennel salad, citrus salad, pappardelle, and cod.

Cafe Altro Paradiso dinner menuGold star: Neither the changing light nor the monochrome nature of the food (a Mattos specialty, from what I recall) did my food photography any favors The fennel salad and pappardelle, pictured below respectively, were both very good, and much better than they look here. And I’m not showing the cod because the photo came out so bad that you’d never order it even though you should.

Cafe Altro Paradiso fennel salad Cafe Altro Paradiso papardelleRoom for improvement: A third of the way through the meal, I told Adam how impressed I was with our server, and the service in general. Then we went long stretches with no food, and on two occasions dirty plates remained uncleared for too long. Visit a restaurant in its first months and you can expect kinks like that; it did burn a bit, however, when the managers noticed our plates and kept walking.

Anything else? We went to another hot new restaurant, High Street on Hudson, two days before Café Altro Paradiso. The food was more ambitious and more successful, and the service was more polished—and yet Adam and I both agreed that we’d be more likely to return to Café Altro Paradiso first. It has a comfortable, easygoing atmosphere that will make it a fantastic neighborhood restaurant. I fear the bar will become impossible, though. I went back last night (Sunday) at 5:45 p.m., to see if I could get a better shot, and it was already packed.

Contact: Café Altro Paradiso is at 234 Spring, on the west side of Soho Square (the triangular park on the west side of Sixth Ave.), 646-952-0828;

Cafe Altro Paradiso map courtesy Google MapsRecent New Kid on the Block / First Impressions articles:
Roman K Salon
Wicked Juice and Kitchen
Best Market
Kiki de Montparnasse
The Django
Muse Paintbar

Note: Comments have been turned off due to spam.



  1. What was the noise level like? Is this a restaurant you could go to with friends and actually have a conversation? Ditto for High Street?

    • The noise wasn’t bad at CAP the night we went, but I bet it’ll get loud as the place picks up steam—lots of hard surfaces…. I don’t remember about High Street; I think it was OK. Generally, the economics of restaurants these days seem to force restaurateurs to cram in tables, except of course at the high end.

      • The noise is an issue at CAP, particularly at the tables in the front room. We gave up trying to talk. Bring your earplugs and enjoy the food.

  2. Went last Wednesday night and had a very similar experience.

    Food was excellent – the octopus is probably some of the best I’ve ever had and the gnocchi was so so good.

    The service was just….odd. Started off kind of weak and then she was around too often and then a really long stretch of time passed before we got our pasta dishes.

    Overall, would definitely go back though!

    • I understand why restaurants like asking diners to share dishes, even if I’m so tired of it, but they *have* to remember that meals need to have a rhythm. At High Street on Hudson, our first three dishes came out at once. To the restaurant’s credit, they slowed the next round down (after I asked them to).

  3. After getting screwed for years I came up with a brilliant ordering system:
    I have a “trick” for ensuring that my entrees never come out too fast.
    I HATE when I’m eating apps and suddenly the entrees appear!
    Here’s the “secret”
    I order in “layers”. I only order the appetizers!
    THEN after they come- I order the main dishes. This way they CAN’T be brought out too soon because they don’t KNOW what they ARE! Brilliant huh?
    Of course not all restaurants will allow me to do this- especially if they’re “slammed”. But try it- you’ll see!

  4. I didn’t realize this was in Tribeca … Sixth and Spring would be South Village, technically speaking. Maybe I should not be too technical, and simply enjoy the review?

    Pinky Joon Joon