I had initially heard of Cafe Nuovo because of the desserts. Later, I would hear other things. After finally going a few times, pretty much everything I heard was confirmed. Nuovo is a notorious haunt for Waterfire-zombies and businessmen getting blasted. While I didn't witness any zombies on my trips, the business crowd was in full force. Unfortunately for Nuovo, the drunken business crowd causes a lot of noise during peak hours that undoubtedly annoy other patrons. It certainly annoyed me. The restaurant's ambiance is very nice. I loved the high-backed chairs. The lighting is romantic. And tables are perfectly dressed. It had a casual trendiness that wasn't overpowering, just... chic. Service is beyond fast. Wait staff is a well-oiled machine with few hiccups. The wine list is very good, but expensive for no reason. Some barely adequate vintages carried insane prices. The menu is good. I liked the play of certain styles and ingredients, but the success of that play is spotty. Some Asian-influenced dishes, such as the Szechuan Surf & Turf, are so heavy on the salt as to nearly overpower the dish. Prices are odd. The adequate crab cake costs an eye-popping $13, but the filet is a very reasonable $31. Food presentation is glorious from beginning to end, though. Everything was beautiful. Still, for me, it all led up the desserts. Stunning presentation and inventiveness give you art when you expected creme brulee. And at $9 each, an absolute bargain. Believe me, go for the Baked Alaska. My cappuccino was the largest I've ever gotten and pretty good. Sugar comes in the form of a jar of flavored rock candy. And that's a good analogy for all of Nuovo. Food that takes a back seat to style. Not too much of a back seat, but noticeable. Even the desserts, presented wonderfully, are all rather basic in inception. Nuovo makes an attempt, but Al Forno still has the best desserts in town. Nuovo succeeds, surely, but more as an exercise in style over substance.
Pros: Desserts, presentation is wonderful, service is fast, fast, fast.
Cons: Style over substance permeates the menu. Wine list over-priced.