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.
I secretly kind of love Waffle House, IHOP, Cracker Barrel, and the like. These types of breakfast joints are guilty pleasures that I thankfully only indulge on rare occasions, in moments of crippling weakness. So I'm thankful for Stax Cafe, which is as close as a restaurant can get to IHOP without throwing integrity out the door.
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.
A friendly rockabilly/punk/hipster-esque neighborhood joint, with an almost speakeasy feel, a pool table in back, and a menu of tatted-up Italian fare that may cause some double-takes.
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.
Will Chicago ever run out of stands to visit? I doubt it. Just when I think I've uncovered every walkup window in the metropolitan area, I come across an unsuspecting option hidden in plain sight. Check out the most popular stands of 2012.
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.
At Urban Union in Little Italy, Chef Michael Shrader's seafood-focused cuisine naturally favors a gluten free diet, leaning heavily on beautifully composed plates of fresh fish and seasonal produce. The restaurant doesn't offer a separate gluten free menu because they simply don't need one.
Carm's has been open in some iteration since 1929, but until recently I'd never stopped by. Much of that has to do with its location on a quiet tree-lined street, two blocks north of the traffic on Taylor St., which makes the shop feel like a corner store that just happens to kick out a solid Italian beef.
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.