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As I bit into the crispy arancini, I was transported back to Naples, the Italian city where Daryl and I recently visited and ate so very well.
But, no, I was in New York City, at the beginning of a Greenwich Village Food Tour, a fascinating walking tour that delves into the history of the bustling NYC neighborhood.
Whether or not you’re on this tour, it’s hard to miss the Italian flavor in Greenwich Village. The rich immigrant history is intertwined in the soul of this busy Manhattan neighborhood.
Italian family names are on signs next to trendy shops, and some old-timers still live and shop amongst the yuppie hipsters. What a perfect backdrop for a walking food tour.
Appropriately, we ate the first course of our tour on the sidewalk outside of Faicco’s Italian Specialities, an old-school Italian deli that’s been in the Village for over 100 years.
When we were in Naples, Daryl and I ate fantastically fried arancini on Via dei Tribunali. Faicco’s version of the fried Sicilian rice ball (pictured above) is made from a family recipe that dates back to the 19th century. The creamy risotto center of the golden fried ball was different from the red centered arancini in Naples, but eating it was a great start to the tour.
Faicco’s Deli is located at 260 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10014, USA.
Our first primos were at Pagani, a charming restaurant formerly located on Bleeker Street just steps away from Faicco’s. Upon entering, I noticed musical elements like an accordion in the rafters. It turns out that the restaurant was a music store back in the early 1900s.
Fast forward a hundred years, and Mark Barrett was the executive chef at Pagani. Chef Barrett was a sous chef at Babbo years ago before he ran Pagani and cooked all of the pasta from scratch.
As the sun streamed through the big windows by our table, we ate two different dishes at Pagani. First up was cured meat, specifically bresola and speck. I especially liked the smokey speck, its flavors enhanced by local herbs and juniper. We also enjoyed a fresh, tart lemon pasta after enjoying a brief olive oil tasting.
We continued the primo course at Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria, nibbling on cheese and charcuterie while we listened to charming stories of eating these same foods in Italy. We feasted on salad, bruschetta, Tuscan lentils and apricots with chili.
Although my favorite dish was the bruschetta made with loads of crunchy, fresh green vegetables, my favorite story involved lentils being lucky for New Years Day in Italy. Hey, we can all use a little luck in our lives.
Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria is located at 1 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10003, USA.
Pagani is now permanently closed.
Just when I thought I was full, it was time for the best bite of the tour at Lupa Osteria Romana, a popular restaurant that was buzzing on this Saturday afternoon.
I absolutely loved the gnocchi – little fluffy pillows in a savory sauce of ricotta, sausage and fennel.
I also enjoyed the herbaceous squares of focaccia. Apparently, people in Italy kiss bread on the rare occasions when they have to throw bread away. Thankfully nobody had to kiss this focaccia.
Lupa Osteria Romana is located at 170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012, USA.
No meal is complete without dessert, so I was pleased to finish the walking tour with a sweet treat at Dolce Gelateria. This tiny ice cream shop, owned by Sicily-born Salvatore Potestio, serves artisan gelato made with local, seasonal ingredients.
Narrowing down the varied flavors to just two was challenging, but pistachio and olive oil were the flavors that I couldn’t pass up. I normally like pistachio gelato best, but the freshly pressed olive oil gelato was the winner of the two mini cones.
Dolce Gelateria is now permanently closed.
Final Thoughts – Greenwich Village Food Tour
The food tour ended three hours and many delicious bites after it started. Thanks to the tour, I was full of good food, brimming with interesting trivia and ready for the rest of the day.
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About the Author
Mindi Hirsch left corporate America to embark on a never-ending quest for the next great meal. The award-winning Food & Travel writer lives in Lisbon with her partner Daryl.
I was a guest of Walks of New York to facilitate this article. Walks of New York offers a selection of walking tours both in and beyond Greenwich Village.
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.