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Oct 29, 2001 11:34 AM

Mourning "Little Italy"

  • d

Folks, where can I get good "East Coast" American style Southern Italian cooking.The kind I grew up with in New york, or had in Boston in the North End?With Little Italy (on 24th in Noe Valley) gone, I am bereft!!!No good Deli...No good Greek...No good Polish/Ukranian...No good Jewish breads and bakery...No good fried clams...What's going on here??? Remember "good" is the operative word.Can anyone help, or set me straight?I've lived here since 1970, and in these food areas, I am so disapointed... so often.Thanks for any guidance.Derek

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  1. This is kinda like lamenting the lack of good green chile cheeseburgers in Chinatown or pho in Vermont. Jeez. I lived in NYC and Boston and I don't recall too many Dungeness Crabs or Sand Dabs or good sourdough bread or incredible farmer markets etc. etc. Ninety-nine percent of the country doesn't pizza like Santarpio's or John's. And maybe your forgetting all the godawful joints in the Northeast Corridor. Do you know where those street kebabs come from? It ain't Niman Ranch, buckaroo. You lived in NYC, huh? Well then you'll understand this perfectly: Get over it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Jeannie

      I agree. I miss certain Northeast foods, too (oh, for a good bialy) but if I'd lived in SF for 30 YEARS I think I'd get over it. Make the most of all the local goodness (fresh local strawberries and tomatoes in October! tomales bay oysters! delta crawfish! strong coffee!)and get your Atlantic coast fixes on visits. After all, no one's forcing you live out here, far from the fried clams, are they?

      1. re: dixieday

        I think one never "gets over" missing the favorite tastes of one's youth. Don't be so hard on the poster!

        As for the remark about Niman Ranch--the mystery meat at 99% of ethnic--and perhaps many non-ethnic--places is surely from similar sources as the kebabs referred to!

        The more appropriate comparison--actually contrast--would be the great aged prime beef of East Coast steak houses.

        And I do not understand the remark about "good strong coffee": When I first came West, the only espresso available was in "blind" storefronts frequented by elderly immigrant Italian men, and the ubiquitous American-style coffee was dishwater compared to what one got at any of the hudnreds of coffee shops--never mind restaurants--in NYC. "Regular" coffee in New York is still the only American coffee that has any flavor to me because of the tradition of making it strong and fresh.(I "admit" I've never set foot in a Starbuck's.)

        I've never had a purchased tomato in California as good as fresh-picked NJ or LI tomatoes and ditto for corn.

        I do, however, like the corn rye from House of Bagels!

        The original poster should realize that--in the case of Italian food--the majority of the populations back East and here came from different parts of Italy. Which reminds me of something I've been meaning to ask: Why do so many 'hounds use the generic "Chinese" and "Italian" to describe culinary styles that can be as different as the tomato-garlic-anchovy/sardine based dishes of southern Italy and the cream-butter-red meat cooking of Bologna, or the fish-poultry-pork-rice traditions of southern China and the lamb or wheat more common to various northern provinces? Isn't it more helpful to use descriptives such as "Neapolitan" or "Abruzze," "Hunanese" or "Shanghainese," just as one might prefix Chinese restaurants with "Claypot," "Dim Sum," or "Noodle," Italian with "Pizza"?

        1. re: Fine

          The terms which used to be used to describe many "ethnic" restaurant cuisines, "Chinese-American" and "Italian-American", should definitely come back and be used wherever they actually apply.

          1. re: ironmom

            I was thinking more of regional labels: some prefer what I think of as the "fancier" and closer to French style of the more northerly sections of Italy, others the lighter, brighter southern approach--and sometimes it's just a question of mood that day. Or, if I crave "nova cucina," I don't want to sit down to an old line meal in a traditional spot.

            Likewise, if I feel like some Chinese broccoli or fresh prawns, I don't want to inadvertently find myself in a Szechuanese or "Mandarin" spot.

            So, whenever a particular regional style or culinary philosophy predominates, I wish reviewers and 'hounds alike would include it in references.

    2. hey Derek.

      May I suggest you grab yourself a "strong" cup of coffee and hanker down to do some research here on this very informative board.

      You will find many East Coast Chow Hound genuises who have managed to satisfy their "home-away-from-home" whims as well as many West Coast natives who could offer local food genuise to satify your soul.

      We are coastal here. We are Mediterranean. Maybe your desires are less to do about food and more to do with familiar surroundings. Two of my closest friends are native New Yorkers, here in Napa, and they talk about missing the "feel" of the East Coast but they admit the food here is just as good and most times, better.

      Research alittle and you will be in for a treasure hunt!

      Good luck!