Iacopo Falai has built a white-on-white/ minimalist meets antique trip/bejeweled chandelier restaurant empire. First came his original Falai (it's the place on Clinton that clearly used to be a store front and now has diners on display… a concept perfect for those that want to be seen–not a favorite concept for Jim who refuses to eat there); then came the glass front Falai Panetteria and now, right next to my office, is his least expensive foray into comfort Italian with a twist, Cafe Falai .
It's such a welcome addition to the area for its good prices and scrumptious meals. The first time Jim and I went I had the marinated octopus and a onion soup with a poached egg. Jim tried the wide pasta with Bolognese sauce. Everything was on the mark, although other reviews have called the food uneven.
Just to see if we went on a particularly good night (and because, frankly, I really wanted to eat there again), we had dinner there a second time just the other night. I had a breaded mozzarella and beet salad with anchovy dressing while Jim devoured an arugula and strawberry salad. We also shared the veal meatballs, that were good but simple. The service was relaxed, but not in an annoying way, unless you get worked up if dishes come out of order at different times.
I've been told that during busier hours this relaxed attitude can be nerve wrecking if you're trying to get back to work–so plan on a leisurely meal. I've also heard the real treasure at this outpost is the desserts and pastries. I have yet to try them, so am giving an incomplete view of the place, but I have found the dinner, which has been remarked as the weak spot, thoroughly delicious, so I can only imagine.