Tag Archives: pasta

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Piemonte Ravioli

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.

Piemonte Ravioli

Piemonte Ravioli was opened in 1920 by a Genoese immigrant with the last name of Piemonte. In 1955, Mario Bertorelli from Parma bought it. Today, it is run by him and his son, Flavio. The store has a plethora of fresh and dried pasta. They tell photographers James and Karla Murray in Store Front that they use the original recipes from the Piemonte family. They use cheese from Alleva Dairy, and they make their own pasta sauces from their family recipes. Piemonte is also housed in a landmarked building.

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Weekend Whets 10/4

American Cheese Month, October:  Celebrate cheese month with a passport to get discounts at cheese shops.

Spain’s Tapas Trail, October 1-8, 2013:  Participating restaurants create a unique tapa and drink pairing for $10.

Plate by Plate: Project by Project NY’s Annual Tasting Benefit , Friday, October 4, 2013, 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., 82 Mercer, Soho:  Charity event showcasing New York’s premier restaurants. Tickets $150.

North:  Nordic Food Festival, October 2 through 7, 2013, various locations, NYC:  Celebrate Nordic cuisine with lunches/dinners by Scandinavian chefs and cooking classes with Scandinavian chefs.

3rd Annual EscapeMaker’s Local Food & Travel Expo in Brooklyn, Saturday, October 5, 2013, noon to 5 p.m., Borough Hall, Brooklyn:  Exhibitors who are within a 50-mile radius of Brooklyn will be exhibiting.  Tastings and a special Made in Brooklyn market.

Chile Pepper Festival, Saturday, October 5, 2013, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn:  Celebrate chile peppers with live music, 40 food artisans, chocolate and gardens.

Czech Street Festival, Saturday, October 5, 2013, Noon to 5 p.m., East 73rd Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue, and Staropramen Party,  5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street, Manhattan:  Celebrate Czech Independence with Czech food and music.

Eats for India, Saturday, October 5, 2013 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., New York:  25-course cocktail party of Indian canapés to support clean water for India. Tickets $75.

K-Town Festival and Parade, Saturday, October 5, 2013, 10 a.m to 5 p.m., 32nd Street between Broadway and 5th Avenue (Parade  is on Sixth Avenue between 38th Street and 27th Street from noon to 2 p.m.), Manhattan:  Celebrate Korean culture with a parade and festival with Korean food and music.

Tastes Meatpacking District, Saturday, October 5, 2013, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Gansevoort Plaza, Meatpacking District, Manhattan:  Outdoor food tastings to benefit Lab School.  Tickets $35-$45.

4th Annual Sugar Sweet Festival, Sunday, October 6, 2013, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., The City Reliquary, Brooklyn:  Celebrates New York’s bakeries and bakers with a bake sale and baking competitions.

Slow U – Sustainable Seafood (Sashimi and More), Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 6:30 p.m., International Culinary Center (formerly known as the French Culinary Institute), 462 Broadway, Manhattan:  Enjoy sushi as you learn about sustainable local fisheries and the family fishermen.

Slice Out Hunger, Wednesday, October 9, 2013, 6 p.m., St Anthony’s Church – 154 Sullivan St (at Houston), Soho:  Sponsors match every dollar spent for Food Bank For New York City.  Tickets are $1 each.  Pizzerias include Lombardi’s, Rubirosa, John’s, Grimaldi’s, Joe’s, DiFara, Arturo’s and more.

Southern Italy and Genoa in the Early History of Pasta: Debunking the Myth of Arab Influence, Thursday, October 10, 2013, 6:30 p.m., Park Avenue United Methodist Church, 106 East 86th Street (between Park and Lexington), Upper East Side, Manhattan:  Dr. Anthony Buccini will argue that the origins of pasta making are from foodways in Southern Italy, not the Arab world. $25-$40.

Explore Brooklyn:  Italian Restaurant Week, October 10-17, 2013, Brooklyn:  Celebrate Italian American Heritage Month with discounts and deals at participating Brooklyn Italian restaurants.

NYC’s First-ever African Restaurant Week, October 13-20, 2013, NYC:  Celebrate African food with three-course prix fixes at NYC African restaurants.

Lopate and Locavores: Tips From Your Waiter, Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 7 p.m., The Greene Space, 44 Charlton Street, Tribeca, Manhattan:  Leonard Lopate leads a panel of service professionals from New York City restaurants to discuss dining etiquette, dinner date mistakes, tipping, how to get a great table without a reservation and how to get treated like a regular.  Tickets $20.

Soup Festival, October 19, 2013, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Smith Street, Brooklyn:  Judges pick the best soup from area restaurants.  Marilyn Gelber, president of The Brooklyn Foundation, and  Molly Simms, Senior Editor of Bust Magazine are the judges.  Money raised from the event benefits the Culinary Arts Program in the local public School For International Studies.

606 R&D Backyard Pig Party, Monday, October 21, 2013, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., 606 R&D, 606 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn:  Live bluegrass music, Peak organic beer, mulled cider and your fill of pork and fixin’s!

James Beard Food Conference, Monday and Tuesday, October 21 & 22, 2013, Convene Conference Center, Manhattan:  Explores The Paradox of Appetite: Hungering for Change.  Tickets $500.

Book Release Party for Mast Brothers: A Family Cookbook, Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 6 p.m., Wythe Hotel, 80 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn:  Mast Brothers share stories and recipes for American classic recipes.  With admission, you’ll receive a signed copy of the book, a complimentary beverage and hors d’oeuvres.  Tickets $50.

Iron Chef Cooking Competition with GE Monogram, Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Manhattan:  You and a team compete creating dishes with a secret ingredient.  $45.

Culinary Luminaries: Edna Lewis, Wednesday, October 23, 2013, 6 p.m., Wollman Hall (B500), Eugene Lang College, 65 West 11th Street, Manhattan:  Event discussing the life and work of Edna Lewis.

Food Film Fest, October 23-27, 2013, New York:  Watch the films and eat the food too!  Ticket prices vary.

Brooklyn Crab’s 1st Annual Oyster Fest, Saturday, October 26, 2013, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Brooklyn Crab, 24 Reed Street, Brooklyn:  Unlimited tastings of regional craft beer with oysters.  Tickets $45.

Choctoberfest NYC, Saturday, October 26, 2013, Jimmy’s No. 43, New York:  Celebrate Fair Trade Month with a competition among homemade beer, cider, wine, mead, soda, kombucha, water kefir, milk kefir and other fermented foods that feature chocolate.

Get My Goat, October 27, 2013, 5:30 p.m., The Farm on Adderley,  1108 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn:  The Farm on Adderley and Slow Food NYC feature a dinner menu with goat including roasted goat, goat cheese and goat’s milk. $30.

November

Cooking Lesson! How to Create a Week’s Worth of Healthy Dinners in a Snap, Wednesday, November 6 and Thursday, November 7, 2013, 7 p.m. to  9 p.m., Freshmade NYC, Manhattan:  Chef prepares four recipes for tasting and gives you recipes to take home. $40.
New York Taste, Monday, November 11, 2o13, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., The Waterfront, 269 11th Avenue, Manhattan:  New York magazine’s food festival with tastings by New York’s finest chefs.  Tickets $100-$195.

Festa di Tartufi, Friday, November 22, 2013, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Del Posto, Manhattan:  A celebration of Piemontese white truffles, Barbaresco and Barolo.  Mario Batali and Antonio Galloni host a five-course meal by by Executive Chef Mark Ladner.  Tickets are $1,000.

Shirataki: The Zero-Calorie Noodle?

I’ve seen shirataki noodles in women’s magazines touted as the zero-calorie noodle for pasta lovers.  I figured I had to try it.  I found it at the Japanese grocery Sunrise Mart.  It is made from yam flour.  (There are versions made from tofu, but shirataki is made from yam flour.)  One of these brands says it is 0 calories, 0 fat and 0 carbs.  However, other brands say there are 10 calories per serving and 3 grams of carbs per serving (2 of those fiber).  In one bag, there are two servings, so that would be about 20 calories and 6 grams of carbs (4 of fiber).  If you look at the nutritional value of various spaghetti brands, you will see that 2 ounces of dry spaghetti is 210 calories and 42 grams of carbs (only 2 of those fiber).

Shirataki
These noodles do have a fishy-type smell, but that goes away once they are rinsed in water. Boil them for about 3 minutes in boiling water. I served them like spaghetti with tomato sauce and pecorino Romano cheese.  I thought they tasted good–almost like I was eating a plate of spaghetti.  The only difference was the texture of the noodle.  It’s a hard-squish al dente, not sure how else to describe it.  It reminded me of making spaghetti squash spaghetti, but it’s definitely a noodle not thin strands like the spaghetti squash.

shirataki spaghetti
I do think it’s filling, and I also think it’s a great substitute for pasta/noodles if you are counting carbs, cutting back or trying to avoid gluten or wheat.

Neighborhood Watch: Arthur Avenue in the Bronx

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Arthur Avenue, the Little Italy of the Bronx, is the only real Italian neighborhood left in NYC.  If you’re looking for an authentic Italian American experience, this is the place to be.  However, it’s not so easy to get to.  It’s a long, hilly walk from the subway.  Or if you take a cab, the cab driver will not know where it is.  I know cab drivers are supposed to know where to go in the boroughs, but they don’t, especially in the Bronx and Queens and sometimes, Brooklyn.  I suggest you have directions or your phone GPS on hand to assist the driver.

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The main strip is Arthur Avenue from East 184th Street to East 187th Street.  On East 187th Street, there’s Artuso’s Pastry, the home of the famous Pope cookies.  In case you are looking for them, the Pope cookies were made for Pope Benedict’s visit to New York and his recent resignation, but they do not have Pope cookies now.

Visit Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.

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Walk west to Egidio Pastry and admire the case full of beautiful pastries.

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The history of the building is evident with its tin ceiling.

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Here, we tried a mini cannoli and a mini sfogliatelle. They were both very good, but the sfogliatelle was particularly well crafted with flaky layers.

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DeLillo Pastry has outdoor seating and a mighty fine cannoli with creamy ricotta filling.

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There are a lot of bakeries on this small strip, so if you are doing a tasting, be prepared to eat a lot or to take some home. I brought my rolling backpack so that I could easily bring things home with me.

In addition to bakeries, there are ravioli/pasta shops, seafood markets, meat markets, cheese shops, pizzerias, Italian restaurants and kitchen stores. At Marie’s, you can get dinnerware and housewares, as well as coffee, from Italy.
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OK, vegetarians in the crowd will not want to look at the next photo–the body of a sheep hanging in the window of a meat market.

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Teitel Brothers is an Italian grocery store owned by a Jewish family that has been in the neighborhood since 1915.

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Now this is something you don’t see anymore–a bread bakery.  Zito’s and Vesuvio’s in the city closed awhile ago.  Thank goodness Addeo’s is still here in the Bronx.

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Look at that bread.

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At Biancardi’s meat market, you can still get capuzelle, or sheep’s head.

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Madonia Bakery has beautiful bread and also fills cannoli to order.

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I got some yummy cookies for the road.

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In the middle of the block, there’s an indoor market, the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, with a butcher, fish and produce market as well as products from Italy and Arthur Avenue T-shirts and souvenirs.

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The butcher here had beef feet.  I’ve never seen these before and am not sure how Italians use them.

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If you’re into offal, this is the place to be.  Here’s cotenne, the pig skin I’ve written about, in the rear of this photo.

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Brains, anyone?

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OK, I definitely share the sentiment with these T-shirts.

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Check out Cerini Coffee, a fun store with housewares from Italy.

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At Morrone Pastry Shop & Café, I got a rainbow cookie cake slice and a tortoni.  Both were delicious.  (I also bought a rainbow cookie cake for my aunt’s birthday.  I froze it the day I bought it and thawed it a week later.  It was fresh, moist and delicious.)

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In case you thought I just had sweets, I did stop for a slice of pizza at Catania’s.

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What to Eat:  pastries and bread from Artuso’s, Egidio’s, DeLillo’s, Madonia’s, Addeo’s or Morrone’s; pizza from Catania’s.

Where to Shop:  Marie’s and Cerini’s for kitchen wares; the Arthur Avenue Retail Market for souvenirs, produce and Italian goods; Borgatti’s for ravioli; Randazzo’s for seafood.

What to See:  Columbus statue at East 183rd Street and Arthur Avenue, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on East 187th Street.

Neighborhood Watch: Little Italy’s Grand Street

Today, it’s hard to imagine that Manhattan’s Little Italy once encompassed a much larger area than a few blocks along Mulberry Street.  Yes, my family lived on Mulberry Street south of Canal Street close to Bayard Street.  And Italians lived as far east as the Bowery.  Little Italy shrinks as the years go by.  It’s pretty much just Mulberry Street now maybe from Spring to Canal.  But that’s a stretch, as most of the businesses along that strip are not Italian or Italian-owned.  I would say the most Italian section of Little Italy is right off Mulberry and Grand Streets.  Here is the fairly new Italian American Museum, opened in 2001.  The building was the Banca Stabile, a bank founded in 1885 to aid the local Italian community and arriving immigrants.  Due to financial reasons, the museum is seeking a developer to build a new building at the site, so if you want to see the historic building, you should visit now.

Museum

The Alleva Dairy for cheese and meat and other Italian grocery items and the Piemonte Ravioli Co. for pasta.

Alleva

Piemonte

Across the street is E. Rossi & Company, an Italian housewares store that used to be on the corner and that every Italian American from NYC remembers.  Here is a great history of the store.  The article also mentions Paolucci’s, a restaurant that closed as rents went up.  Paolucci’s actually had perciatelli on the menu.  The owner introduced me to Goodfellas‘ author Nick Pileggi at the restaurant one night.

Rossi

Of course, no stop to Little Italy is complete without a visit to the famed pasticceria Ferrara.

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Try gelato or pastries, such as cannoli, napoleons, eclairs, or rum babas.

At the end of the block on Mott Street is Di Palo’s, an Italian deli/grocery.

Di Palo

Head south on Mulberry Street to the Church of the Most Precious Blood.  Established in 1891, this church is the site of the San Gennaro festival in September.

Church

For coal-oven pizza, try Lombardi’s on Spring and Mott Streets, the first pizzeria in the United States, opened in 1905.

Lombardi's pizza

Lombardi’s pizza

What to Eat:  Cannoli from Ferrara, pizza from Lombardi’s

Where to Shop:  E. Rossi & Company for housewares and Italian novelties; Alleva Dairy and Di Palo for cheese, meat and grocery items; Piemonte Ravioli for pasta

What to See:  Italian American Museum, Church of the Most Precious Blood