Caffè Storico | Upper West Side, New York City, NY

Get into cicchetti at Caffè Storico

Caffè Storico is stunning.

Situated at the front of the newly renovated New York Historical Society, the restaurant is all high-gloss white paint, dripping brass chandeliers and Meyer-lemon accents.

The museum's china and porcelain collection stretches to the ceiling in illuminated 15-foot-high cabinets. Windows reveal sculpture and elegant arches in the hallways beyond.

But in our book, all of this alluring grandeur can't compete with chef Jim Burke's double-decker grilled-cheese sandwich. You'll find it under the Cicchetti section, under the name Mozzarella en Carrozza ($7).

Sun-dried-tomato pesto and buffalo mozzarella are stacked four pieces high onto bread that is skewered, quartered, dipped in egg and then pan-fried in butter. It's crisp, gooey, stretchy satisfaction.

There are 14 cicchetti offered. We suggest making like a Venetian and composing a meal solely from them. Baccalà–salted cod–whipped with cream and olive oil is meant to be scooped onto grilled white polenta ($10), and meatballs ($11) built from beef, pork and veal are delicious in their minimalism.

Throw a house-made pasta into the cicchetti party only if you must.

Caffè Storico, 170 Central Park W. (at W. 76th St.); 212-485-9211 or