The former Escape Café at the corner of Broadway and Fifth has been taken under new management and steered towards serving more substantial food, putting it at odds with Rotondi’s across the street in competing for the patronage of downtown workers. In an interesting suggestion of karmic balance (or perhaps of the “invisible hand” at work), Francesca’s seems to have moved with great efficiency into the “quasi-upscale” lunch sector left vacant by the departure of the Good Food Company earlier this year. Besides miscellaneous coffee-related beverages and breakfast baked goods, the menu consists of salads, soups, sandwiches (both “gourmet” and ordinary ones), and wraps, in the neighborhood of four to six dollars. Various fillips on the meals and on the menu itself tip off Francesca’s as the spiritual successor to the Good Food Company. Sandwiches come with roasted red peppers; one may have smoked mozzarella, rather than just American or Swiss cheese, on one’s sandwich; artichoke hearts appear here and there on the menu; mere lettuce is passed over in favor of “field greens”; and the “gourmet” sandwiches are served on “focaccia bread” [sic]. For all its (admittedly moderate) pretension, though, Francesca’s does serve a respectable lunch. The distinction between Rotondi’s and Francesca’s is more or less a matter of mood: the former a homey diner with simple food, the latter a slightly more modish establishment in décor and cuisine (with everything that entails). De gustibus non est disputandum.
- 461 Broadway
- 7:30 AM–3:00 PM, Monday–Friday