Cheap *ss Lunch #5: The Best Pizza Place Near Stuy (But Not For Pizza)
Beyond its large quantity of chairs and Manhattan-priced pizza, Cafe Amore actually has a few tasty and affordable options.
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Much of Stuyvesant knows Cafe Amore as “the pizza place that actually has enough seats to sneak in outside food while your ‘friend’ tries to eat their Manhattan-priced pizza in peace.” Surprisingly, they actually do have a little bit more to offer. Some people, while waiting on their slice, may have wandered their eyes over to the specialty menu above the main counter while contemplating how they can have three tests in just as many periods. Doubtless, seeing the non-teenager-friendly options and prices, they would’ve thought “$12 for a steak? I can cheat a freshman out of a locker for a price that ridiculous, or keep Dr. Winkel from asking me for money for a week if I’m lucky.” No Stuyvesant student would actually order any of it, unless he was rich, out of his mind, or both. However, a small portion of the astute people who actually pay attention to their specials board may have actually noticed their sandwiches and pastas, some which actually fall in the under $8 range of our “cheap” *ss lunch options.
If they have anything particularly noteworthy, the distinguishing feature of these specials is the fact that they're actually freshly made upon your order (and take the according time—try not to order one with ten minutes left in your lunch period). The majority of the cheaper “specials” options are sandwiches, which come with three filling choices enrobed in copious amounts of vaguely Italian proto-mozzarella. In with all this fermented cow juice is a fair amount of steaming but pretty undistinguished tomato sauce, and a wrapping of middling sub-bread doing its best to hold in the fillings. In terms of the fillings, there are three, all quite decent: eggplant, meatball, and sausage. The eggplant offers a rare tasty vegetarian option for slightly less punch, but is slightly forgettable in all its cheese and warm tomato sauce. The meatballs are pleasantly nondescript and are on the acceptable edge of boring, with soft, forgiving meat and a good amount of spice in amazingly large chunks (they will try to escape, watch out). The sausage is even better: more firm, chewy and aromatic than the meatball with its excellent complement of savory spices. Still, the meat is not supposed to be high quality in either, and the cheese and sauce are used as a flavor crutch.
The sandwiches aren’t as fast as halal, but should come in under 10 minutes and hot out of the oven wrapped in tinfoil. Prices are annoying but not unreasonable: all the sandwich specials (and additionally the spaghetti with only cheese and tomato sauce) coming out to $7.57 with tax. Cafe Amore does supply a good array of pizza-related condiments; garlic and red pepper definitely helping to add that missing tang. You already know that the best thing about the place is their ample seating: there is normally at least one free table in the gloom of the left side of the restaurant. They also have a myriad of varying alternative “Italian” food options, such as zeppoles, garlic knots, and a few reasonable-looking cold cut sandwiches. Some with less robust appetites (or those who actually had an adequate breakfast) may find the sandwiches too big for one sitting, but for the price and neighborhood, it's one of the best options to ever associate itself with the land of the Pope and Mario.
Directions: Out the far end of the bridge and a block and a half down the street (Chambers), with a split awning in Christmas colors. 147 Chambers Street, on the left side.