Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Dishes That Make New York Great

It May Not Always Be A Restaurant That Makes Your Head Spin In NYC

I consider myself a street scavenger. No matter where I am walking, in any neighborhood... I am fascinated with what people are eating. Local stores, food carts, butcher shops... you name it. It's this food that becomes the fabric of the neighborhood... and shapes the tastes of a community.

For over 107 years, Faicco's Butcher Shop in the West Village has been that place. Situated about 10 feet west of the famous "Murray's" cheese shop on Bleeker Street, Faicco's has remained a constant in a city of change. I can only hope they are around for another 107.

What makes Faicco's great is the pride and skill behind their products. From trimmed pork products to incredible homemade sausages (cheese and parsley which is incredible, broccoli rabe... and sweet italian with fennel to name a few) Faicco's has separated itself from the local butcher shop to a gourmet destination.

As much as I love everything these guys make and sell… the dish that stands out are Faicco's “rice balls”…. known to the world as arancini. It’s hard to convey just how incredible these are, but I can tell you that I have made trips to Faicco's just to buy a bag of them… and from what I can tell, their appeal is no secret to the locals.

What is a rice ball? Well, for any hushpuppy loving Cajun like myself, it is a bite of pure ecstasy. Imagine a perfectly shaped ball (slightly larger than a golf ball and just as heavy), filled with creamy rice and mild Italian cheese, lightly breaded and fried. Hell, I guess it’s the Italian version of the hushpuppy.

How you enjoy this little dude is up to you. The preferred way is to heat them in the oven until warm, and served with a little fresh marinara over the top or on the side (Faicco's sells them room temp in the store). My problem is I can rarely get them home.

These are so good, I usually just rip the bag open and begin eating them right there on the sidewalk in front of the store. Last weekend I got them home, but was so excited I ate the bag before the oven could preheat.

It is truly, one of the best dishes in New York City, and for .75 cents a pop, a good deal at that. If you are having a dinner party anytime soon, these should be secret weapon #1.

By the way, a trip to Faicco's can be about more that pork and rice balls…. their Italian market is charming and offers an array of imported items (from pasta to good tomatoes) to have you cooking all weekend.

So now you know. Faicco's. Just another gem that makes NYC the best place to eat in the world. I’ll see ya there (I’ll be the guy eating rice balls on the street).

260 Bleeker Street


Photos courtesy of Roadfood.com