A friend told me about Pisillo Italian Panini and I’m glad he did. Not only are the sandwiches delicious, but the owner comes from the town near my grandfather’s in Italy, Sant’Agata de’ Goti. Sant’Agata de’ Goti is a prototypical Medieval Italian city located in the province of Benevento in the Campania region of Italy near Naples. A truly delightful place to visit and the hometown of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s grandfather.
Pisillo is a small shop in Manhattan’s Financial District that does a brisk lunch business. Sometimes the line is out the door, but luckily, there are menus tacked up everywhere so you can read the long list of sandwiches before you get to the counter.
There is a variety of bread for your sandwich, including focaccia, ciabatta and sfilatino, a long, crunchier bread that would be familiar to Italian Americans but maybe not so to others.
I ordered the Sant’Agata with mortadella, fresh mozzarella, tomato and arugula on sfilatino. The sandwich is very large and was very tasty.
Pisillo’s is so popular that it opened a coffee shop next door. The coffee shop has some seating as well that you are welcome to if there are no seats at the sandwich shop. When I visited, the coffee shop had a minimal amount of pastries. Some cannoli, sfogliatelle and cookies. I opted for the pretty cannoli.
While it was pretty, I wasn’t sure about the filling. It was different from what I’m used to with ricotta cream. So I wasn’t able to discern what it was. Maybe ricotta with confectioners’ sugar? Not sure.
I wouldn’t say the panini shop or the coffee shop are bringing anything new to New York that the Italian immigrants of old didn’t introduce before, but both are a nice addition to an area lacking in good food choices and Italian choices.
Posted in Bread, Cannoli, Italian
Tagged Bill de Blasio, cannoli, Financial District, Italian, panini, Pisillo, sandwich, sandwiches, Sant'Agata de' Goti, sfilatino
New York is continually hosting new immigrants. Due to high unemployment and negative economic forces in Italy, many Italians are seeking work and opportunity elsewhere, much like their cousins did 100 years ago. These new immigrants/expats are moving to other parts of Europe and the United States, particularly New York. Some are opening food-related businesses in areas that used to be predominantly Italian, like Little Italy, the West Village or Soho.
Unico looks to be one such business. A café in Soho across from the predominantly Italian Roman Catholic church of St. Anthony of Padua, Unico specializes in Sicilian cuisine. It is a small, hole-in-the-wall spot, but it serves contemporary Italian breakfast items like coffee and pastries, as well as snack foods like arancini (rice balls) and sandwiches to traditional Sicilian desserts like cassata and cannoli. Some of it could be classified as Sicilian street food like the panelle (chick pea fritter) sandwich and the arancini with various fillings like eggplant or mushroom and fontina.
On my visit, a hot day, I got some gelato, lemon and cassata. Both were yummy. I was able to try a sample of cannoli, unfortunately it had been sitting out in the sun, so it’s not the best example. The food looks very good here, and I’d like to go back and try something more substantial besides gelato.
In general, I wouldn’t say Unico (which means “unique” in Italian) is unique because Italian and Sicilian-style cafes have been in the city for over 100 years. But I would say the cornetti, pastries with sweet or savory fillings, are the unique item that you wouldn’t find elsewhere, especially the savory variety. “Cornetto” or plural “cornetti” is the Italian word for croissant. Usually, in the United States, these are served plain or as a sandwich, not with fillings. So that is something unique to try.
Posted in Bakery, Cake, Cannoli, Dessert, Gelato, Italian, New York
Tagged cannoli, cassata, chick pea fritters, cornetti, cornetto, gelato, panelle, Sicilian, Sicilian street food, Sicily, Soho, St. Anthony of Padua, street food, Unico
New Yorkers are a resilient bunch with much pride in their city. The bombing in Chelsea on September 17 would not deter them from carrying on. The bombing occurred only two days into the ten-day San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy, but it didn’t keep the crowds from coming. That’s good because it’s an important year for the festival–its 90th anniversary.
September 19 is the feast day of San Gennaro and that is the day organizers celebrated with a mass and procession from the doors of the Most Precious Blood Church on Baxter Street around Canal Street and up through Mulberry Street.
Most Precious Blood Church
This year’s grand marshal was Joe Causi. A Bronx Tale‘s Chazz Palminteri also made an appearance at the festival. (Tony Danza was the grand marshal of the parade last year, but this year, I had my second run-in with the actor. I was shopping in Alleva Dairy, the country’s oldest Italian cheese store, when a man said, “Excuse me, ma’am,” and brushed past me. It was Tony. Years ago, I ran into him on Bleecker Street and I asked for a photo to which he rudely said no.)
Before Mass, I pinned a dollar on the statue of San Gennaro and got a pamphlet about him as well as a pin and prayer card. Inside the church, there is a large presepio (Nativity scene) from Naples on display.
Street vendors sell everything from American food to fair festival food like roasted corn,
to pizza and cannoli
to Italian tchotchkes
to traditional Italian foods like these Italian cookies, taralli, mostaccioli and biscotti.
I ate at Sal’s Pizza on Broome near Mulberry for pizza, sausage and broccoli rape. At Sal’s, you get a side order of pasta with your entree, the traditional way.
For dessert, some cassata and coffee at Caffe Palermo.
Posted in America, Cannoli, Fair, Festival, Italian, New York, News, Pasta, Pizza, Restaurant
Tagged biscotti, Caffe Palermo, cannoli, festival, Little Italy, Most Precious Blood Church, Mulberry Street, New York, New York City, pizza, presepio, procession, Sal's Pizza, San Gennaro, San Gennaro Festival, taralli
Last year, I did a Two for Tuesday on San Gennaro cannoli and compared the cannoli from Ferrara and La Ferrara. This year, I’m featuring cannoli from Caffe Palermo on Mulberry Street and Caffe Roma on Broome Street. Caffe Palermo has a sign advertising the best cannoli, and it is also the sponsor of the cannoli man.
I thought the cannoli cream and shell were good and had a hint of cinnamon.
Caffe Roma’s cannoli cream was a little less ricotta-y than Caffe Palermo’s and the shell was a bit more cinnamon-y.
My favorite cannoli in Little Italy would probably be a combination of Ferrara’s and La Ferrara’s.
OK, I know it’s two for Tuesday, but I’m going to throw in the frozen cannoli. I had wanted to try this last year. It’s a cannoli shell filled with soft serve vanilla, chocolate or swirl ice cream. I got vanilla. The soft serve isn’t the best quality, so I would opt for a real cannoli over this.