A couple weeks back, my wife gave me a challenge: entertain her two friends visiting from Colombia with a food tour of Little Italy and Chinatown that lived up to my own standards of good food, catered to their tourist desires for a bit of history and a unique-to-New York feel, and clocked in at under $20 per person.
'Little Italy' on Serious Eats
Homemade red sauce with pasta is nothing new at Di Palo's in Little Italy, but on a recent visit, the team explained that they're increasing the regularity of some of their offerings. Which means you have even more chances to get this prosciutto-filled red sauce, either in packaged sauce form or dressed with pasta in the deli case, ready to eat.
The Serious Eats office is dead in the thick of New York's Italian American culture—at least what used to be. It's no secret to anyone who calls New York home that Little Italy is as Italian as Mario the plumber. But still, with the thousands of tourists that pass through daily, you'd expect some places to do a classic Italian combo hero right. Here's our take on the contenders.
The new Italian Food Center is clearly after Little Italy's tourist crowds, but despite the Epcot design, they're turning out some surprisingly good sandwiches.
The flavors of this ham and mozz sandwich are subtle but well balanced, with plenty of gooey-cheese chew, and for $6.50 it's a more than respectable value.
"Could I get a potato and egg sandwich on lard bread?" I asked. "No!" the more surly of the counter people respond. "You see the size of that loaf? That's two potato and eggs.
Firmly priced in the everyday—and gutbusting—chicken parm camp, Grand Appetito's foot-long sandwich is a more than decent option for Little Italy.
If you're visiting Little Italy in Chinatown in New York, get ready to eat well. But you have to know where to eat—and just as importantly, where to avoid. This guide aims to break it all down for you, handy printable map included.
I was not expecting Nyonya, a decent if not outstanding Malayasian restaurant we visit now and again, to make one of my favorite plates of chicken wings in New York. But they do.
Don't wait to head down to Parm for their Thanksgiving hero, as it will only be available until the end of the week. At $14, it's definitely expensive for a sandwich that you won't want to share with anyone, but it's everything Thanksgiving should be.
If you're you're having an uneasy morning that needs something trashy-delicious, like mayo-covered kebabs wrapped in naan, this Sheek Kebab Kati Roll is a pretty decent $5 thing to eat.
Last year saw some game-changing food at the Feast of San Gennaro, Little Italy's carnival of greasy sausage, fried Oreos, and a guy dressed like a giant cannoli. Even if this year's innovative food offerings mostly come down to two restaurants we love, you can still stuff yourself on some pretty great food.
We're having something of a lard bread problem at Serious Eats HQ—we just can't stop eating the stuff. So here's another way to put it to good use: a neighborhood sandwich hack that makes my new favorite Italian sandwich in New York.
Maison Kayser's sourdough baguettes may have us in French bread paradise of late, but what's the bread you're most likely to see at SE HQ right now? Lard Bread, also called prosciutto bread. It's an Italian bread with cured pork baked right into the dough, and we're in love.
Get this s'more edition of the fabulous Parm ice cream cake for a limited time only. It'll ruin you for s'mores desserts everywhere else.
Chicken sandwiches, often filled with overcooked white meat and weak toppings, tend to be boring or, at worst, nearly inedible. The Rubirosa Sandwich ($12) at our neighborhood favorite Rubirosa is fortunately several notches above the archetypal poultry-between-bread ordeal.
If you've been let down by the muted heat of supposedly "spicy" salumi elsewhere, give the Spicy Capicola ($8) at Parisi Bakery a try. The capicola is liberally rubbed with bright ground chili and piled high—and I mean high—on a fresh Parisi hero roll. The heat will sneak up on you, but it's a great, bright burn; it's the punchy counterpoint to the buttery, almost provolone-like tangy fat of the capicola.
When we heard Los Angeles chef and street food lover Susan Feniger (Border Grill, Street) would be in town and wanted to meet up for lunch, we knew this wouldn't just be a one-stop lunch. Since SEHQ is located in that magical nexus of Chinatown and Little Italy, where it's actually difficult to spend more than three bucks for a hefty meal (or meal-sized snack), it becomes our civic duty to take out-of-towners on a roving lunch crawl. Especially true serious eaters like Susan.