Author Topic: New York City Christmas Trip  (Read 3545 times)

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Offline IlliniPizza

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New York City Christmas Trip
« on: November 16, 2005, 06:46:50 PM »
Hi,

I am visiting a friend, who lives in Brooklyn, during Christmas.  I am only going to be in the city 3 days.  I have a lot to do but I have my sights set on visiting about 6 different pizza places.  Here is my list.

Grimaldi's
Lombardi's
DiFara's
John's Pizza on Bleeker
1 of the Ray's Pizza - Tourist Trap, I know - Whatever the Original one is, if anyone knows

I would like to hit all the by the slice places while I am walking around, I know some only sell pizza by the whole pie, those will probably be sit down dinners.

I am also interested in pizza places, or deli's that sell pizza quality ingredients, italian tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, etc...

Does anyone have any suggestions, time to go, slowest times, best service, quickest service, any places I missed, what to ask for as far as toppings.

Thanks


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2005, 09:50:29 PM »
IlliniPizza,

I am sure that there are members from the NYC area, both past and present, who can offer some very good advice on what you plan to do, but if you will be staying in Brooklyn and in the area for only three days, you may want to check out some of the Italian food stores in Little Italy, just outside Chinatown and on the way from Brooklyn into lower Manhattan. The three Italian food stores I frequent while in that area are the Alleva Dairy (188 Grand, at Mulberry), Italian Food Center (186 Grand, at Mulberry), and DiPaolo Fine Foods (200 Grand). As you can see, the three stores are all on Grande and close to each other. In fact, Alleva and Italian Food Center are on opposite sides of Mulberry. Alleva is reputedly the oldest cheese store in the country. It specialized mainly in cheeses but it also has dry sausages (includiing pepperoni), cold cuts, some olive oils, olives, etc. The Italian Food Center sells the same things but more, especially in the non-cheese area. It also sells some mean freshly-made sandwiches. DiPaolo sells much the same products as the others. It seemed to me that the people who work behind the counter there were more knowledgeable than the others about Italian foods in general and their products in particular. Any one of these places is great to buy some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to bring back home with you. The PM will be super fresh and reasonably priced compared with most other places back home. You might also go across the street from Alleva to Ferrara's for some really good Italian pastries, to eat some there with a good cappuccino and to bring some cookies back home with you (which is what I always do).

You will find fresh mozzarella cheese (fior di latte) at all of Italian markets mentioned above and my recollection is that they all offer buffalo mozarella cheese. You are unlikely to find much in the way of 00 flours at any of them, but if memory serves me correct, I think I did see some Bel Aria 00 at one of them. The Italian Food Center and Paolo carry canned tomatoes, including some San Marzanos, but the last time I was there the pickings were slim. I'm sure that there are better places to get the San Marzanos if that is what you are interested in. I just don't know where they are without taking you too far away from Brooklyn.

The original Ray's is said to be the one at Prince and Mott, at 27 Prince. Lombardi's is at 32 Spring. They are both a short distance by foot from the Italian food markets mentioned above.

Of the pizza places you plan to visit, I believe that DiFara's is the only one to sell slices. I am not even sure that Ray's at Prince and Mott does, but I may be wrong on this. When I went to Lombardi's, I made a point to get there just as they were opening the doors, just to be certain that I would be seated. The place is very popular with tourists, and they start to line up outside the doors once it opens. I was at DiFara's just after lunch and had to wait a while to get the pizza, but I was more interested in watching the master Dom DeMarco at work.

Depending on which days you will be in Brooklyn, you may want to check to see that the places you want to visit will actually be open.

Peter

Offline mmarston

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2005, 09:17:32 AM »
Depending on where you are in Brooklyn you might like to visit Faicco's, "the mother of all pork stores" 6511 11th Ave @ 66th. The Christmas decorations in Bensonhurst are also worth a trip. Sahadi's is an amazing middle eastern market on Atlantic ave.
There are also many wonderful places to eat on Smith Street, Brooklyn's relatively new restaurant row. Savioa (I'm not sure this is spelled correctly) offers great Southern Italian and small wood fired pizzas as well.

In Manhattan check out the Chelsea market (new home of the Food Network) 9th Ave and 16th St. If you like Barbecue try Virgil's Near Times Square (it's the real deal).

I could go on but you only have three days..don't miss the Metropolitan Museum if you like art.

Michael
« Last Edit: November 17, 2005, 09:22:20 AM by mmarston »
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Offline IlliniPizza

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2005, 12:44:16 PM »
Hi,

Thanks for all the great info.  This is my 3rd trip to NYC, so as far as landmarks, museums, etc...  I have seen them all.  The MET and Guggenheim are exceptional.  Oddly enough, in 2002, the last time I was in the city I didn't go to one deli, or 1 pizza place the entire time I was their.  Since I found this site, and since I started making my own pizza circa. mid 2003 I have realized how much of the city culinary delights I missed the first 2 times around. 

Deli's, Pizza, & Bakeries top the list this trip.  I told my friend, a transplanted chicagoan who has lived in NYC for 5 years now, about my planned food excursions, and she told me that she hadn't been to any of the pizza places, except Rays, on my list.  So this is a real treat for her as well. 

I guess I should also tell everyone that I am a wedding photographer during the warmer months, so about 3 grand in camera equipment is going to following me around from pizza place to pizza place.  So I should have some really great photos to share.

I am going monday thru Thursday.  I didn't want to go over a weekend because some places are closed on Sundays.

Thanks guys, and Pete-zza, my project is done.  So I will start work on some spreadsheet ideas.




Offline Pete-zza

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2005, 01:08:25 PM »
IlliniPizza,

I saw on another thread this morning that one of our members, Scampi, bought some Coluccio San Marzano DOPs recently, and that reminded me of a conversation I had with the importer of the Caputo 00 flour during which he suggested that I try the Coluccio San Marzanos, which he said were very good. I have never seen that brand in the stores anywhere but I was prompted by Scampi's purchase to try to track down the company itself, which I understood to be in the NYC metro area. Through a Google search, I was able to locate them and they are in Brooklyn. I called Coluccio's today and spoke to a fellow by the name of Joe who told me that they carry all kinds of Italian foods and sell on a cash and carry basis. In case you are interested, they are at 1214-20 60th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11219. Phone: 718.436.6700.

BTW, the Coluccio's olive oil is a very good one. It's a bit pricey but worth it in my opinion. Coluccio's doesn't carry the Caputo 00 flour, but they do carry another brand (San Filippo?). FYI, Coluccio's will ship, using UPS.

Peter

Offline foster444

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2005, 09:19:43 PM »
The Ray's at Prince St., which is the original Ray's, does sell slices, or at least it did the last time I was there a few years ago.

And it's been consistently disappointing in my experience.

Bob

Offline scott r

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2005, 10:36:27 PM »
Bob, I agree about the quality.  I was there less than a year ago and they still had slices.

I have found the best NY street pizza by just going to the places that are busy.

Offline foster444

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2005, 12:29:38 AM »
I think that's sound advice, Scott.

Bob

Offline snowdy

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2005, 02:51:48 AM »
hey dude :) I went to NY last year same time of year.

I hit up:
Lombardi's
Grimaldi's
John's of Bleeker Street
Ray's (one on 54th and something or other near time square)

I didnt get to go to DiFara which i wish i would have. My brother actually just moved from California to NYC (107th street)... ive been trying to get him to give me a report on DiFara now for 4 months but no dice. He's stuck on Lombardi's and wont go anywhere else.

I'll be interested in knowing what you think of each place. Make sure to post your results here :)

My personal favorite was Lombardi's. I like Crust the best and althought it was a thin crust, the end edge was a bit thicker than most with a nice smoky flavor and the toppings were amazingly fresh and tasty.

John's was also pretty good (my wife liked best).

Grimaldi's was my least favorite although the crust was tasty. Least favorite by no means is bad since i would take grimaldi's over anything i can get here in Southern California any day of the week!!!! It was great but just not as good as the others in my opinion.

The Ray's i ate at was not the original but from what ive read it is considered one of the best locations. The pizza was alright and the garlic knots were amazing but the slices were just not much better than anything i can get here at home.

I think the key is coal oven. You can'g go wrong at Lombardi's, John's, Grimaldi's, etc.

But from what i have read, it seems DiFara is like the best place on the planet (eventhough its gas oven).

Have a good one!! :D

Dave


Offline IlliniPizza

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2005, 10:22:59 AM »
Thanks Guys for all the great advise.  When it comes to pizza I don't descriminate.  Raised in chicago, I am used to a oily dense pie, so I am very curious to try coal fired pies.  One time I had a slice of pizza, and it was literally all voids.  Experimenting with my own pizza over the last few years I always wondered how they got the lighter than air bread, or pizza slices.  Then one night I was watching the Food Network show, unwrapped, and they were showing how they made Pita Pockets.  They used a very wet dough, and it went thru a conveyor oven at almost 900 degrees, the water turns to steam and exploids creating a pocket.  I am guessing thats what happens in a coal oven creating a light airy crust.

Also, I am not too familiar with San Marzano Tomatoes.  My grocery store carries 40 varietys of canned tomatoes, but the only Italian San Marzano Tomatoes they carry are called Scarfati Brand.  I may have misspelled it a little.  Anyone familiar with this Brand?   


Offline mmarston

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2005, 07:46:10 PM »
Do not buy San Marzano Tomatoes unless they have the official Italian registration mark "DOP"(Denominazione di origine protetta - Protected Denomination of Origin) on the can. There are many brands of poor quality tomatoes labeled as San Marzanos or San Marzano Style that can come from Italy and California. There are discussions regarding tomatoes on this forum that are worth checking out. If you like an uncooked sauce it's worth finding the best canned tomatoes you can get assuming you cannot get good fresh ones like heirlooms of some variety. I don't have time to go into detail right now as I'm doing Thanksgiving this year and Pizza just won't fly.

Michael
« Last Edit: November 20, 2005, 08:29:00 PM by mmarston »
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Offline scott r

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2005, 12:33:34 PM »
Do not buy San Marzano Tomatoes unless they have the official Italian registration mark "DOP"(Denominazione di origine protetta - Protected Denomination of Origin) on the can. There are many brands of poor quality tomatoes labeled as San Marzanos or San Marzano Style that can come from Italy and California.

Michael

I totall agree that there are some low quality tomatoes out there labled San Marzano.  I also agree that if you find a can with the DOP you are most likely going to get a good can, but I really have found some top quality San Marzano's without the DOP designation.   I have also found some tomatoes imported from Italy with the classic San Marzano taste that don't even claim to be San Marzano's.  Your best bet is to just buy and taste.  One can of tomatoes is just not that expensive after all.

At one point I got a bad case of the La Bella San Marzano's, but recently I have revisited the brand because I like the thick puree that they come packed in.  Even Escalon has sent me some bad tomatoes, and they appear to be one of the most conscientious canners out there. I have since found the La Bella to be one of the better SM variety's available in the U.S., and these do not have the DOP approval.  Also, I think the Cento Italian peeled tomatoes recommended by Varasano would fool many people into thinking they had purchased a SM.

Offline mmarston

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2005, 04:40:45 PM »
I agree that there are variations in quality of proven brands and good tomatoes can be found in unusual places. It's a little like wine!
Just to add to the disscussion Cooks Illustrated did a review of canned tomatoes in their Sept/Oct 2005 issue. Progresso It style , Redpack Whole in puree and Hunts whole were their top picks. They also liked la Regina and Pastene San Marzanos but didn't think they were worth the extra money. Second place picks were Tuttorosso It style, Muir Glen Organic, Rienzi and Cento. The article has an interesting discussion of trade laws and additives as well. I myself just got some Escalon 6 in 1's and Bella Rosas that I can't wait to try. For now it's back to the Thanksgiving prep.

Michael
« Last Edit: November 21, 2005, 04:56:15 PM by mmarston »
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Offline dodude

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2005, 03:09:08 PM »
Wear pants with elastic waistbands.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2005, 01:10:51 PM »
While I was in NYC over Thanksgiving, I had a chance to do some additional followup on the places I mentioned in my earlier post. The Alleva Dairy was closed by the time I made it onto Grande Street in Little Italy (a bit after 5 PM) but I was able to check out the Italian Food Center and DiPaolo's, which apparently close around 6 PM.

The Italian Food Center seemed to carry the broadest selection of Italian specialty foods. I was able to find the Coluccio DOP San Marzanos (at $3.49 for a 1 lb., 2 oz. can) and the Coluccio extra virgin olive oil (at $16.99 for a 1000 ml. bottle). I had been told by the Colucccio people in Brooklyn that DiPaolo's carries the Coluccio products, but when I went into the store (which is very small and crowded), there was such a long line of people blocking the shelves that I had a hard time locating things. I found the canned tomato section, but no Coluccio San Marzanos or any other SMs. Neither the Italian Food Center or DiPaolo's had any 00 flour, although both (and Alleva as well) have a good assortment of olive oils and pepperoni. And they all have great cheeses, both hard and soft.

I also had a chance to ride down Bleeker St., where the original John's is located. While I didn't have a chance to stop and check things out, I did see a line of people waiting to get into John's (at around 2-3 PM). I also saw several Italian specialty food stores very close by to John's. So, if the stores in Little Italy don't pan out, there should be a lot of possibilities for locating good Italian foods on or around Bleeker St.
 

Peter


Offline Wiseguy

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2005, 08:36:38 PM »
Hi,

I am visiting a friend, who lives in Brooklyn, during Christmas.  I am only going to be in the city 3 days.  I have a lot to do but I have my sights set on visiting about 6 different pizza places.  Here is my list.

Grimaldi's
Lombardi's
DiFara's
John's Pizza on Bleeker
1 of the Ray's Pizza - Tourist Trap, I know - Whatever the Original one is, if anyone knows

I would like to hit all the by the slice places while I am walking around, I know some only sell pizza by the whole pie, those will probably be sit down dinners.

I am also interested in pizza places, or deli's that sell pizza quality ingredients, italian tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, etc...

Does anyone have any suggestions, time to go, slowest times, best service, quickest service, any places I missed, what to ask for as far as toppings.

Thanks

DiFara's is a hole in the wall, but you should definately try and get there. Great greasy slices with lots of flavor from the cheese and olive oil, my favorite when I was there. Also try and stop at L&B Spumoni gardens on 86th street for a "square" and some Spumoni Ice Cream. Both Difara's and L&B are in Brooklyn and are "real deal" places. Both places are not big on atmosphere, but go for the food.

I'd say you can skip Grimaldi's for the pizza unless you like waiting in long lines and sitting in cramped seats.  The pizza is decent but not extaordinary. What's cool about going to Grimaldi's is to go to the park near Grimaldi's and view the city from the Brooklyn side and also the Ice Cream place right near there is good as well.

Although I didn't get to go there last trip, a local told me when I was in the park near Grimaldi's to go to Nick's in Queens.

Offline abc

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2005, 06:58:03 PM »
Difaras and Spumoni are deep into bklyn, and not too close but not too far from ea. other.  if coming from manhattan, it'd take prob 1.5 to 2hrs to get to either of these via subway, and you'll need more than one train, plus walking.

Offline abc

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Re: New York City Christmas Trip
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2005, 07:00:07 PM »
Hi,

I am visiting a friend, who lives in Brooklyn, during Christmas.  I am only going to be in the city 3 days.  I have a lot to do but I have my sights set on visiting about 6 different pizza places.  Here is my list.

Grimaldi's
Lombardi's
DiFara's
John's Pizza on Bleeker
1 of the Ray's Pizza - Tourist Trap, I know - Whatever the Original one is, if anyone knows

I would like to hit all the by the slice places while I am walking around, I know some only sell pizza by the whole pie, those will probably be sit down dinners.

I am also interested in pizza places, or deli's that sell pizza quality ingredients, italian tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, etc...

Does anyone have any suggestions, time to go, slowest times, best service, quickest service, any places I missed, what to ask for as far as toppings.

Thanks

my guess is you're residing in Parkslope/BrooklynHeights... probably connect to the F train and take it all the way down to ConeyIsland, then branch back out to those bklyn places like Difara and SG.