New York is home to some of the best food in the world.
With such a large international population, and with so much history behind it, New York’s food scene is not only huge, but incredibly diverse.
Every type of cuisine imaginable exists here. From Ethiopian to Vietnamese. From Dominican to German. From Chinese to Italian.
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on such a wide variety of food! Not to mention, after spending ten months in China, it became my mission to find the best dumplings in New York. And, because dairy is such an oddity in Asia, I was drooling just to get some fresh mozzarella!
I know, Italian and Chinese aren’t exactly complimentary cuisines, but who cares? With food of this caliber, there’s only one thing to do: EAT.
Ferrara Bakery and Cafe
America’s first espresso bar, Ferrara was established in 1892 and was originally labeled as a gentleman’s club. That’s not the type of club that you and I are thinking of, though–it was a place for men to sit around, drink espresso, play cards, smoke, and take a reprieve from the wife and kids at home.
Today, Ferrara is still family owned and is run by the fifth generation. Having met the family at the San Gennaro festival, I can say they are truly Italian, through and through!
Made from grandma’s recipe, the cannoli here are the main attraction (next to the gelato, of course). Their originals are delectable, but they also have flavors ranging from mint-chocolate chip to red velvet (yes, really). Ferrara is the place to soothe that sweet tooth.
Name: Ferrara Bakery and Cafe Address: 195 Grand Street, between Mulberry Street and Mott Street Phone: (212) 226-6150 Website: ferraracafe.com
Alleva is America’s first Italian cheese store, and they’ve got the goods to back it up. Not only is their selection of meats and cheeses extensive, but all the snackables are the real deal. Everything is imported from Italy or made in house by the fourth generation of the family, who still use their great-grandmother’s recipes.
Name: Alleva Dairy Address: 188 Grand Street, on the corner of Mulberry Street Phone: (212) 226-7990 Website: allevadairy.com
You can’t find fresh Italian meats or cheeses like this just anywhere. When I walked in the door here, I knew this place was special. Seeming to burst at the seams, this little shop was packed with customers. In fact, they’re so busy that you have to take a number when you walk in the door! And you might end up waiting a half hour to be helped, but that’s because they actually spend that much time interfacing with you, teaching you about the ingredients that you’re buying, and helping you to choose exactly what it is that you’re looking for.
As much as they care about their food, they also care about service.
But, let’s not forget about the cheese! My personal recommendations? The piave, a cow’s milk cheese from northeastern Italy or the moliterno, made from sheep’s milk in Basilicata in southern Italy.
Name: Di Palo’s Address: 200 Grand Street Phone: (212) 226-1033 Website: dipaloselects.com
There’s only one thing you need to know about Grand Appetito: they use fresh mozzarella which is made in house, every single day.
Angelo, an immigrant from Palermo, Sicily, started baking 20 years ago and, in 2012, opened Grand Appetito with his grandfather’s vision in mind: clean storefront, fresh food, incredible customer service. It’s a seemingly simple concept, but it’s one that isn’t often heeded. By sticking to those three principles, Grand Appetito has made a name for itself as having some of the best pizza in Little Italy, and possibly New York!
Name: Grand Appetito Address: 197 Grand Street Phone: (212) 226-1650 Website: grandappetito.com
Nom Wah Tea Parlor
Located at “The Bloody Angle” on Doyers Street is the Nom Wah Tea Parlor, Chinatown’s first dim sum parlor. In the early 1900’s, the Tong Gangs of Chinatown were at war, and hatchets were often thrown at opposing gang members from the rooftops. It is said that more people died violently on Doyers Street than at any other street intersection in the United States!
Still, though, Nom Wah remains. Established in 1920, Nom Wah has become a Chinatown institution. Having eaten my fair share of dim sum, (including Michelin Star Dim sum in Hong Kong), I can assuredly say that Nom Wah has done it right.
Their house specialties include the steamed pork buns with caramelized onions and the shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings. Something especially unique, which was developed in-house, is their egg roll, which is made of chicken and mixed vegetables and then rolled in an egg crepe.
Name: Nom Wah Tea Parlor Address: 13 Doyers Street Phone: (212) 962-6047 Website: nomwah.com
Since arriving in New York, it’s become my mission to find the best dumplings in the city. They don’t quite stack up to the authentic dumplings in China, but these are definitely some of the best I’ve found!
Name: Tasty Dumpling Address: 42 Mulberry Street Phone: (212) 349-0070
I visited the highlighted restaurants with Ahoy New York Food Tours, who provided a complimentary walking tour of Little Italy and Chinatown! Our tour guide, Liz, was incredibly knowledgeable about the food and the history of the restaurants and the city. Their tours always change, so don’t necessarily expect to eat at the same places. And make sure you arrive hungry!