In the indoor market itself, where I always begin…….I stop at Mike’s Deli for the olives and the capers as on a crowded day, the olives can sell out. They are very similar to the ‘dolce’ olives that you find in Rome – soft, green, plump and sweet(ish). They’re the Castelveltrano. They have great sandwiches but I always opt for the cafeteria a few feet away. Fabulous broccoli rabe pizza slices, even better rabe frittatas and an assortment of pastas, gnocchi, sandwiches stuffed with meats, peppers and cheese. I order, grab a table and mentally make notes about what to buy at the generally more expensive but often useful stand right next to the tables. Popping something wonderful into my mouth and sitting in front of a wall of old Hollywood movie photos while people scream in Italian around me contemplating all that I will buy and cook is pretty exciting. Particularly for the Bronx.
This stand offers a range of fancy dried pastas, abruzzi oregano, a wild selection of paprikas as well as olive oils from all over italy and a great selection of aged balsamics ranging from 12 bucks to 200$$ I like them mostly for their balsamic possibilities and always some smoky paprika plus the oddly great prices on cans of San Marzano tomatoes. Sometimes a stray purchase falls my way but I move on fairly quickly.
The vegetable stall to the right of the cafeteria has the good figs (usually two choices – not always so expensive), great melons, white peaches and my favorite (quality & price) fresh porcinis, shitakes…..depending on the season.
Two doors to the left as one leaves the grand hall passing onto arthur av is the Calabria sausage store. They hang from the ceiling and poke out of everywhere else – excellent. There are fennel, super hot, sweet, your sausage fantasy come to life. Surprisingly what they do have here that I particularly enjoy is out of this world fresh ricotta (usually sheepsmilk). They reach over and dip in the basket placing the contents carefully in a plastic container. With some figs – on some toast. Perfetto. They also have great prices on Dicecco pasta, those little hazlenut biscuits in the orange bag and all manner of proscuitto etc. Sometimes the owner’s daughter is there with an electronic keyboard singing in italian. Hard to move on. But here’s where a trip back to the car is ususally necessary to deposit bags.
I won’t make you all crazy with my order of stops – but you need a system depending on where you park. Across the street from the sausage store and just past the famous restaurant Dominicks (not so great) is Randazzo’s seafood market. Beautiful tiny clams, shimmering branzino, lovely choices. Frankly I like both seafood markets on this street and happily split my allegiance. Depends on the day. Cosenza’s is smaller and has an inviting raw clam bar on the street that’s nice for a seafood pick me up. Calandra’s cheese store has several nice sicilian selections but i particularly like their basket cheese – aptly named for it’s shape and mold.
The bakeries – both to the left (north) of the indoor market are quite good and very different. Madonia Bakery has many choices of great biscotti, breads, ( a fabulous jalapeno/cheese bread, seeded semolina, olive bread) cookies (walnut delights for the ride home) and freshly filled cannollis (but the latter you wait for until the very last stop). The other much simpler bakery, Addeo’s – has frozen pizza dough if you don’t want to bother yourself, a delicious pane di casa, great breadsticks.
In between Addeo’s and the Cosenza clam bar is Biancardi’s, the butcher shop. All rave about the meats particularly the steaks – I don’t linger as the bunnies and goats hanging upside down in the window are not my thing. Often a long line…….
Teitel Bros has by far the best prices on Italian tuna and I am usually inclined to buy a case of Flott, the Sicilian version. Great olives, nice prices on anchovy paste, san pellegrino limonata and incredibly wonderful parmesan. My other favorite source for parmesan is from Dipalos on grand street but this is a tough rival.
On to 187th st, going around the corner to the right is Casa di Mozzarella…..the mozzarella guy from Tino’s across the street relocated here awhile back – Tino’s used to have the best cheese, and still has a nice selection plus great homemade sauce. They have a fab red cow parmesan. But at Casa, it’s heaven. The sliced proscuitto is very popular, and I get the buffala, the handmade smoked mozz and a few surprises.
Continue on down to the Mt Carmel wine store – fantastic selection of italian wines that are hard to find eleswhere, some chiantis etc, grappas and you can chat about it all in italian if you’d like. Adding to the geographical fantasy.
A block further east is Borgattis for some homemade egg pasta cut to order and homemade ravioli to leave in the freezer when you just need something special to be waiting there for you. Great prices on packaged faro and other grains – truly many dollars less than downtown. Across the street, Terranova bakery has tasty focaccia and a very crusty pane di casa among other bread choices.
Then either to the car with another drop off or drag all and head west – right over to Gino’s bakery, across Arthur av but still on 187th. Photos and paintings of the now departed Gino are everywhere but Mrs Gino still sings his praises and son of Gino serves you at the counter under a photo of his father and the likeness is astonishing. The very best in handfilled-while you wait-and salivate cannollis. Just to prepare you for the return trip and about 20 minutes before you slip a tiny bite of walnut delight in your mouth and think about what to have for dinner.
Photo by Angela Carbonetti