MANHATTAN VALLEY — A new Sardinian restaurant is hoping to lure in travelers staying at a nearby hostel and budget-conscious diners with hearty food that won't break the bank.
Arco Cafe, opening Wednesday morning on Amsterdam Avenue at West 103rd Street, sits directly across from the 672-bed Hostelling International, which restaurant owner Sebastiano Cappitta, 53, said will be a key part of his new spot's success.
"[Young travelers] come out in the morning, and there's nothing but a deli," said Cappitta.
To fill the void, Arco Cafe will not only serve dinner, but lunch and breakfast, which will be centered around freshly made croissants, whipped up by chef Roberto Ruiu, 35, who hails from Sardinia. No dish on the menu is listed at more than $16.
Cappitta has not shied away from opening in areas where the restaurant scene is not fully developed, he said. Last fall he opened the Sicilian restaurant Isola on Columbus at West 109th Street and Columbus, and his pizzeria Buca is just around the corner from Arco on West 103rd Street.
"It's good to be first," he said, adding that he passes the savings from paying cheaper rent on to the customers.
The 40-seat restaurant features Cappitta's characteristic touches — exposed brick, a long red banquette, simple furnishings and lighting, and an all-window facade that will open to the street in the summertime.
The restaurant's focus is on simple, rustic dishes, including fresh homemade pasta, he said.
Sardinian food is known for being hearty, with lots of pastas featuring meat, said the restaurant's manager Daniele Fiori, 35, who hails from the same Sardinian village, Nuoro, as the chef. Fiori's sister, Francesca, 34, works as the hostess.
The Pane Frattau, traditional Sardinian thin bread with tomato sauce, parmesan and a poached egg, will be a big hit, Daniele Fiori noted.
"It's going to be very popular," he said. "It's simple."
Arco Cafe, 886 Amseterdam Ave., will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.