The food: delicious authentic Italian
On a recent trip to New York, E and I stopped by Eataly, the buzzy, gigantic new food hall masterminded by Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and friends, and situated on 23rd Street in the Flatiron district. Eataly is full of high-end Italian groceries and contains several food stations/counters/’restaurants’ where food is prepared to order. It was also jam-packed – make that mobbed – with people at two o’clock on a Thursday afternoon in November.
We couldn’t imagine eating at Eataly, amid the chaos, noise and crowds – and at food court-style tables, yet.
Much more our scene was the tasty, authentic Italian food served around the corner on Broadway at the dark but calm Bar Stuzzichini, where the $19.95 prix fixe lunch (served from 12 – 4 pm) was an incredible deal for some lovely food.
We started with 2 stuzzichini (appetizers) each. As ever, we were drawn to the fried food on the menu, so we ordered the arancini, baby artichokes (in season!), panelle (chickpea fritters), and to round out the fat content of the meal, some mozzarella di bufala.
The baby artichokes were delicious – fried golden and crispy on the outside, green inside. The panelle – which I’d never eaten before – were crisp, light, savoury and a little oily, but in a good way. The arancini were also light and melt in your mouth, probably because they contained more cheese inside than risotto.
We were already almost full but our second courses awaited: for E, the spiced salmon with polenta, and for me, a plate of tagiolini with pistachios and lemon. Given that these items cost $23 and $17 when ordered a la carte, we expected small portions, but there was more food on the plates than we expected. More food that was good, creamy and rich.
We waddled out of Bar Stuzzichini feeling a few pounds heavier, but not before having our last course, a lemon ice that wasn’t creamy. Thank god.