Periodically, there’s an article about how Little Italy is dead or dying. Yes, it’s more of a tourist destination and less of a neighborhood where Italian people live. There are still some Italians there, and there are Italian-American-owned businesses there. A recent article in the New York Times made me want to write a series on Little Italy Isn’t Dead and feature some of the businesses there.
Caffe Palermo is home to the king of cannoli, but they also have other great pastries too like this wonderful cassata cake. The café was opened in 1973 by John DeLutro. It’s definitely a must during the San Gennaro festival.
cassata from Caffe Palermo
Posted in Bakery, Cannoli, Dessert, History, Italian, Local, New York
Tagged Caffe Palermo, cannoli, Little Italy, Mulberry Street, New York, New York City, NYC
Pasteis de nata (or pastel de nata) are egg custard tarts found in Portugal and Portuguese-influenced countries. These deliciously creamy tarts have a characteristic browned shine on top. You can find a delicious version of them at Portuguese restaurant Lupulo in Midtown.
They can also be found in regular or Nutella at the delightful Portuguese café and bakery Café Mauro in North Arlington, New Jersey.
Posted in Dessert
Tagged Cafe Mauro, Chelsea, egg custard tart, Flatiron, Lupulo, Midtown, New Jersey, NJ, North Arlington, pasteis de nata, pastel de nata, Portugal, Portuguese egg custard tarts
Rossopomodoro is a restaurant in the West Village specializing in Neapolitan cuisine. I would classify it as a modern take on Neapolitan cuisine that also highlights some of the classics like Margherita pizza and dishes like pasta
Genovese. I met a dear friend here for lunch. The host and waiter were friendly and made this a lovely experience.
For a starter, we shared the polpetta di melanzane, or eggplant meatballs, which of course, were vegetarian. And very good!
For our entrees, we got pizza to share. First, the Margherita pizza. This pizza was very nice. The tomato sauce in particular had a very fresh, sweet tomato flavor. This pizza was not as “wet” in the middle as Neapolitan-style pizza tends to be.
We also got the Genovese pizza with mozzarella di bufala, basil pesto, pecorino and chili. This pizza was a bit spicy with the chili but not unpleasantly so. Just the right amount.
The bright red and green colors on our table were reminiscent of the Italian flag!
For a side dish and a bit of vegetable, I got the broccoli rabe, which was cooked perfectly–not bitter at all.
For dessert, we had the semolina lemon cake with strawberry gelato. This had such pure, delightful lemon flavor that you really did not need the gelato. The cake was that good on its own.
We also shared the Nutella panna cotta. Cream and Nutella, what more can I say?
A highlight about the menu for those with gluten issues is the gluten-free pizza, which from the sound of reviews, is pretty great.
Posted in Dessert, Gelato, Italian, New York, Pasta, Pizza, Restaurant
Tagged broccoli rabe, gluten-free, gluten-free pizza, Naples, Neapolitan, Nutella, panna cotta, pizza, Rossopomodoro, semolina, West Village
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
Happy St. Joseph’s Day! Now, everyone can partake in the festivities with a gluten-free version of zeppole or sfince/sfinge di San Giuseppe. I used the basic gluten-free cream puff recipe from King Arthur Flour. However, I did not have gf King Arthur flour on hand, so I used a homemade blend. My blend is from the all-purpose flour blend in Gluten Free & More magazine with a little tweak.
Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend
1 1/2 cups sweet rice flour
3/4 cup tapioca starch
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
OK, so you will still use 3/4 cup of this flour blend to make the cream puffs. Follow the directions for cream puffs. I spooned generous tablespoons of dough onto the parchment paper. For me, it made 8 cream puffs. When they are cooled, you will add the ricotta filling.
about 2 lbs. ricotta (or two containers, some containers are 15 oz.), drained in a colander or cheesecloth to remove excess water
1 cup confectioners’ sugar (or to taste, if you like it more or less sweet)
candied citron or orange peel
Mix the ricotta and sugar. If it is too thick, add a bit of milk (not too much because you don’t want it liquidy). If you want, you can add some chocolate chips or candied citron. You can also decorate them with candied citron, candied orange peel, crushed pistachios, and/or a maraschino cherry.
–Dina Di Maio