Lard Bread at Caputo Bakery
An old-school standby, Caputo Bakery (not to be confused with the unrelated Caputo’s Fine Foods) is a no-frills storefront with a serious bread selection. The service isn’t the friendliest and the place isn’t much to look at, but just get over it, because you’re paying $4.75 for a giant loaf of tender brioche-like bread, stuffed (stuffed!) with cubes of provolone, hunks of salami, and a hefty crank of black pepper. Oh, and did we mention the reason the dough is so tender is because it’s kneaded with lard? A gorgeous, hard-to-find specialty (and, it must be noted, a real umami bomb) that’s worth traveling for.
329 Court St, (718) 875-6871
Panelle Sandwich at Brucie
One of the more newfangled operations on Court Street, Brucie is a cute little Italian-leaning restaurant/ general store that caters to a younger crowd. It’s pleasantly subdued for lunch, when you can get chef Zahra Tangorra’s modern panelle sandwich, a tribute to her grandfather’s favorite street snack. Panelle are fried Sicilian chickpea fritters, which can veer toward greasy in the Old Country, but Tangorra’s version are light and smooth. She layers them on a Caputo Bakery roll slathered with honey, airy homemade ricotta and pickled Cubanelle peppers, which provide a sharp, crunchy bite to the otherwise sweet combo. At $9, it’s tipping the Cheap Eats scales a bit, but this is one sandwich we stand behind.
234 Court St, (347) 987-4961
Cheese Balls at G. Esposito & Sons
There is absolutely nothing bad in these little guys, from the friendliest old-school butcher in Carroll Gardens: mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, black pepper, and little nubbins of prosciutto, all mashed together and fried. Get them warm (read: microwaved) for maximum gooeyness, ask for some extra napkins, and pop while walking down the street. Salty, creamy, melty—and at $1 a piece, you can afford to load up.
357 Court St, (718) 875-6863
Mozzarella at Caputo's Fine Foods
Caputo’s Fine Foods (not to be confused with the unrelated Caputo Bakery) is known for their handmade mozzarella. Every day, the longstanding cheese whizzes there spin whole milk into great ribbony threads, kissed gently with salt, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with just eating it plain. We, however, opted for a sandwich version ($6.95), topped with oily sun-dried tomatoes (“they’re Italian summer tomatoes actually dried by the sun, not in an oven,” assured owner Frank Caputo) and a shot of balsamic vinegar. Simple, classic, bellissimo.
460 Court St, (718) 855-8852
Meatballs at Prime Meats Provisions
What Italian snack tour would be complete without meatballs? And who treats carnivores better than Prime Meats? Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo are masters of the high-class ode to the classic red sauce joints of years past. Skip the fuss (and the pricetag) inside and hit up the tiny grocery adjacent to the restaurant, which sells their meatballs in to-go containers for $7. They’re made of ground DeBragga & Spitler and Creekstone beef, bread crumbs, romano cheese and garlic, then strewn with grandma-approved raisins and pinenus. They are also, mercifully, not overcooked, so you can reheat without the fear that they'll dry out. You’ll want to swipe every bit of the accompanying tomato sauce, so we suggest picking up a loaf from Caputo’s Bakery and making a meal out of it.
456 Court St, (718) 254-0327