Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City
As a general rule, New Yorkers don’t go to Little Italy. And if we do, we’re certainly not doing it for Italian food. As Chinatown spread north, most of the Italians who lived in this area migrated to other parts of the city. According to the NY Times, only 5% of the residents in this area today are actually Italian. In fact, most of the Italians that attempt to lure tourists into their large pasta palaces on Mulberry Street, commute to work from elsewhere in the metro-area.
I don’t know if the current owners of Alleva actually live in the neighborhood, but when the dairy store (which is famous for its homemade ricotta and mozzarella) opened over 100 years ago, the language of the shop (and the neighborhood) would have most definitely been from the Old Country.
If you come into shops like Alleva (or the nearby DiPalo), you can almost forget about the throngs of tourists looking for the perfect manicotti. This is the way the neighborhood used to be – when it was a close-knit community. And thankfully, there are still regular Italian customers (who probably travel from elsewhere) who come here for all their dairy needs.
But if you don’t have a nearby refrigerator to store the hunks of cheese, you can come in for a snack (like me) and sample their heavenly ricotta balls. These breaded little fritters give way to a cheesy exterior of herbs, bits of salty prosciutto, and heavenly ricotta cheese. Amazingly, there is a lightness and airiness to these that make them a perfect midday snack.
So while Little Italy now feels more like a pavilion in Epcot and less like an authentic Italian neighborhood, there is proof and remnants of that original community. Alleva, for one, keeps the tradition alive.
|188 Grand Street (at Mulberry Street),