Tag Archives: gelato

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: The Legendary Ferrara

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.

Ferrara

Ferrara, a legendary Italian pastry shop, opened in 1892 by Enrico Scoppa and Antonio Ferrara.  The fifth-generation pastry shop gained fame when Enrico Caruso became a regular.  Ferrara’s became well-known for its cannoli and torrone.  Talk about being a kid in a candy store.  I take one look at the glass case of glistening glazed fruit atop an array of pastries in a myriad of colors, and I’m mesmerized.  The pastry case at Ferrara’s is a work of art.  When I talk to people who’ve never been to an Italian bakery, I show them pictures of Ferrara’s.  Everyone in my family will attest to Ferrara’s being the gold standard of New York Italian pastries.

Ferrara’s pastries

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Sweets Week: Day 7: L’Arte del Gelato

Nothing like a stroll on the High Line to end the holiday weekend.  And some delicious gelato!

July is National Ice Cream Month. In honor of my favorite creamy sweet treat, I’m doing a Sweets Week with a focus on frozen treats like ice cream and frozen yogurt.

L’Arte del Gelato is my favorite gelato in the city.  Now, the original shop is named Dolce Gelateria, and the locations in Chelsea Market, the High Line and Lincoln Center Plaza are still named L’Arte del Gelato.  I love many of the flavors here.  On a recent trip to the High Line, I got strawberry gelato and frutti di bosco sorbet.

L'Arte del Gelato

Verdict:  Still my favorite gelato in the city.  Both flavors are delish, but the sorbet was the standout.

Neighborhood Watch: Father Demo Square

Father Demo Square

Many a New Yorker has perched herself on a bench in Father Demo Square, watching pigeons circle in unison from building top to building top.  There’s always that one lone pigeon bopping its head back and forth as it walks, waiting for someone to drop part of a bagel.  On a sunny day, there is nothing better than visiting the neighboring restaurants, Bagels on the Square, Joe’s Pizza, Grom, eating a bagel slathered with cream cheese,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

a warm slice or a refreshing gelato.  This square has been one of my favorite parts of the city since I moved to Manhattan.  To me, it was the gateway between the middle Village or NYU territory and the West Village, the land of quiet, quaint streets.  I fell in love with the delicious bagels and creamy flavored cream cheeses of Bagels on the Square.  When I got a craving for pizza, I’d get a slice of Joe’s and stand at the window, looking out at the square.  A few doors down on Bleecker, I’d get pastries at Rocco’s, a wonderful Italian pastry shop with an incredible smell as you walk inside.  Let the big fat cookies in the window beckon you in.  Up the block from Rocco’s is Murray’s Cheese where I can get whatever cheese I desire.  (I remember when Murray’s was on the opposite side of Bleecker Street in a smaller shop.)  Next door to Murray’s is Faicco’s Italian Specialties where you can get Italian meats as well as other Italian grocery/deli items.  I love Bleecker Street and could keep on walking and telling you what I like, but I need to turn around and walk southeast because this is about Father Demo Square.

Who is Father Demo?  I used to ask myself that question.  Now I know the answer.  Father Antonio Demo was pastor of Our Lady of Pompeii church from 1899 to 1933.  Our Lady of Pompeii is the Italianiate church with the domed bell tower west of Father Demo Square on the corner of Carmine and Bleecker Streets.

bell tower

According to the church’s Web site, Father Demo comforted families of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire victims.  Originally from Vicenza, Italy, he immigrated to Boston in 1896 and later became assistant pastor of the church before becoming its pastor.  The church provided support to the immigrant Italian community that arrived during the turn of the last century.  Italian immigrants created businesses in the nearby area, and the area later developed into a mecca for artists and writers.  (Personally, this is the church where my grandfather was baptized, and this is the neighborhood where his family lived.  In fact, at one time, they lived on Carmine Street right opposite the church.)

interior of Our Lady of Pompeii

interior of Our Lady of Pompeii

Today, Our Lady of Pompeii represents diverse cultures and has Masses in English, Italian, Portuguese and Tagalog for the diverse community of Americans, Italians, Brazilians and Filipinos.  This beautiful church continues to aid immigrants, visitors and the neighborhood, and its beloved pastor is recognized and remembered in Father Demo Square.

What to Eat:  bagels from Bagels on the Square; pizza from Joe’s Pizza, gelato from Grom; pastries from Rocco’s (especially the cannoli which is filled to order–how it should be!); cheese from Murray’s; deli items from Faicco’s Italian Specialties.

Where to Shop:  Avignone Chemists, founded in 1832, the oldest apothecary in America; for a bit of history, check out the window display of old prescriptions, many written in Italian.

Information on the Mass schedule for Our Lady of Pompeii.  Information on making donations to support this historic church.

The Best of 2012

As 2012 ends, it’s a time to reflect on all the delicious meals and treats I had this year.  It was a year of firsts for me:  my first empanadas, my first ramen, my first soup dumplings.  I tried bottarga (an Italian delicacy–dried caviar from tuna or gray mullet eggs).

Here are lists of my favorites for the year.

Dina’s top 5 brunches of 2012:

1.  Barbounia‘s shakshouka

Moroccan eggs

2.  West End Grill‘s omelets with sweet potato chipotle short rib hash

sweet potato chipotle short rib hash

sweet potato chipotle short rib hash

3.  Robert‘s ricotta pancakes

ricotta pancakes

4.  Popover Cafe‘s Carolina Dinah with cheddar cheese grits

carolina dinah

5.  Market Diner‘s breakfast

Dina’s top 6 frozen treats of 2012:

1.  Grom‘s candied chestnut gelato

Grom's chestnut

Grom’s chestnut

2.  Itizy‘s vanilla ice cream

itizy

3.  Yogorino‘s plain frozen yogurt

Yogorino

Yogorino

4.  Yo Art‘s Greek lemon frozen yogurt

Greek lemon

5.  Sundaes and Cones‘s Thai tea and corn ice creams

ginger, corn and Thai tea ice cream

ginger, corn and Thai tea ice cream

6.  Mo’s cherry and mascarpone gelato

mascarpone and cherry gelato

mascarpone and cherry gelato

Dina’s top 6 desserts of 2012:

1.  Smyrna‘s rice pudding

Smyrna rice pudding

2.  Epicerie Boulud‘s brandied cherry beignets

brandied cherry beignets

brandied cherry beignets

3.  Benoit‘s tarte tropezienne

vanilla cream cake

vanilla cream cake

4.  La Silhouette‘s honey mascarpone mille feuille with toasted oats and cherry curd

honey mascarpone mille feuille with toasted oats and cherry curd

honey mascarpone mille feuille with toasted oats and cherry curd

5. Pie Face‘s lamington

lamington

lamington

6.  Minamoto Kitchoan‘s fukuwatashi

Kitchoan goodies

Kitchoan goodies

Dina’s top 14 dishes of 2012:

1.  Braai‘s chicken bobotie

chicken bobotie

chicken bobotie

2.  Braai‘s portobello mushroom with goat cheese

portobello mushroom with goat cheese

portobello mushroom with goat cheese

3.  Caffe Falai‘s gnudi

Gnudi

Gnudi

4.  Lillie‘s lobster mac and cheese

lobster mac and cheese

5.  Xai Xai‘s eggplant rolled and stuffed with goat cheese

2012-07-25_18-04-41_663-1

6.  The Palm‘s crab cake appetizer

2012-06-15_18-01-53_173-1

7.  David Burke Kitchen‘s crab and tomato gazpacho

2012-07-23_20-50-17_587

8.  Porter House‘s organic Scottish salmon

Scottish salmon

Scottish salmon

9.  Almayass‘s shrimp provencal

shrimp

10.  Totto Ramen‘s char siu bun

char siu bun

char siu bun

11.  Swizz‘s raclette

raclette

12.  Joe’s Shanghai‘s soup dumplings

Joe's Shanghai soup dumplings

Joe’s Shanghai soup dumplings

13.  Empanada Mama‘s corn flour cheese empanadas

empanada

14.  Num Pang‘s pulled duroc pork sandwich

duroc pork

Two for Tuesday: Ice Cream

Yes, ice cream is a popular topic on my blog because I love it!  I love iced treats in all forms–ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt…(am I the only one who remembers ice milk?).  Recently, I went to one of my favorite ice cream shops in the city, Sundaes and Cones, in the East Village, with a hankering for my favorite flavor there–corn.  I got that along with ginger and Thai tea.  What a delight!  One was better than the other, but my favorite is still corn!

ginger, corn and Thai tea ice cream

In addition to old favorites, I love giving new places a try.  While in Little Italy for San Gennaro, I stepped into Mo Gelato, a new gelateria.  Of course, gelato is better for you than ice cream, so I was being healthy when I got a double scoop (in a cup, mind you).  Cherry and mascarpone flavors.  Both were out of this world.  The mascarpone was so creamy, but the cherry was the showstopper.  Also creamy, it just had the perfect cherry flavor and a tiny bit of a crunch.  L’arte del Gelato finally has some competition.

mascarpone and cherry gelato

Two for Tuesday: Desserts in a Glass

Bindi dessert company started as a bakery in Milan in 1946.  Now, it sells delicious dessert creations to restaurants.  Recently, I was able to snag one of their glass collection–coppa spagnola.  The Web site says it’s vanilla and amarena cherry gelato swirled with amarena cherries and syrup, but when I tasted it, I thought it was fabulously creamy whipped cream.  Indeed, the label on the dessert I had said it was frozen cream swirled with black cherry sauce and topped with black cherries.  I had never had their desserts before, and this was a great introduction.  If you eat it at a restaurant, I guess the restaurant keeps the glass, but I found this at a grocery store, so I was able to keep the glass.


If you’re in the mood for an ice cream sundae, Big Daddy’s has a few great options.  Big Daddy’s is a fun diner that pays tribute to pop culture in the last 50 years with pictures on the wall and items on the menu.  My friend and I got Strawberry Fields Forever–cheesecake with vanilla ice cream, strawberry topping and whipped cream–and The “Caramel” Apple–apple pie with vanilla ice cream, hot caramel sauce and whipped cream.


These large sundaes, complete with rainbow sprinkles and a cherry on top, are fun takes on classic American desserts.

Two for Tuesday: Ice Cream

Ice cream is our Two for Tuesday this week.  Well, ice cream-related desserts–gelato and Italian ice–to be exact.

L’arte del Gelato is my favorite gelato place in New York City.  I haven’t had a flavor here I didn’t like.  And the flavors are consistent–consistently great!  Its Web site says it uses the “finest ingredients” in their “natural state,” and I suspect that’s why the gelato here is so good.  This time, I got a flavor I hadn’t gotten before:  coconut.  A wonderfully clean coconut flavor.

Whenever I eat Italian ice, I go for the traditional lemon.  With flavors like mojito, cookie dough and pink lemonade, Andy’s Italian Ices truck delivers more than just the standards and makes lemon ice seem a little boring.  At Andy’s, there are water ices like lemon and creme ices.  My mom talks about a delicious creme ice when she was a kid called vanilla yum yum at a stand in Hoboken.  Andy’s doesn’t have vanilla, but I chose cannoli, which sounded good.  Cannoli is flecked with chocolate chips and pieces of real cannoli shell for a little crunch.  The creme ice does have an authentic cannoli-like flavor while being both creamy and refreshing.