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Aug 26, 2006 09:37 PM

Ferdinando's Focacceria

My husb and I had a delicious lunch today at Ferdinando's, and as I don't see any recent posts on this little gem, I thought I ought to bring it up. First of all, Ferdinando's has been open since 1902! I know that's not a guarantee of good food, but it does lend to the atmosphere. It's a small place, and the menu leans toward specialized sandwiches, like the panelle (but they do have other stuff, like some interesting sounding pastas), which is a chickpea flour patty, fried, and if you order the special, it's served on a bun with fresh ricotta on top. The bread here is baked on premises, and has a nice crispness and fresh flavor. Today I had an arancina (rice ball) special, which is a large rice ball, stuffed with ground meat and peas, topped with their nice tomato sauce, ricotta and shredded cheese. WOW! I so enjoyed this. First a disclaimer, I have never, to my shame, had a rice ball before, so I can't compare. But this was really tasty, the filling was as well, and the addition of the sauce and cheeses put it right over the top in a good way. I love their sauce, it's not thick, but smooth and flavorful. I almost wonder if there is a little butter in it. My husband had a veal parm, which he was jonesing for, and said it was very good (I don't do veal so I didn't try it), but let's not get into that) looked good, again on their homemade bread (you can get roll or hero), with the same sauce and plenty of gooey cheese. The hero size is really big. I had a manhattan special, which is coffee mixed with club soda, really nice, sweet but not overly so. Anyway, the arancina special, veal parm hero, a side of broc raab (also good), a manhattan special, a becks came to $28. Also a couple of rolls and olive oil for dipping (my only complaint, the olive oil was too mild for dipping, pretty flavorless). I think this is a lovely old joint, and I highly recommend it.

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  1. Agreed. The panelle sandwich is good, especially with the ricotta. The rice balls are also good, though I love the ones at Alleva Dairy (in Little Italy in Manhattan) the most. They put sausage in theirs.

    FYI: Last time I ate at Ferdinando's, Marty Markowitz showed up to the near empty dining room and held court, so to speak. The owners treated him like one of the family.

    1. Why doesn't that surprise me! I was expecting Ed Koch to walk in the door at any moment.

      4 Replies
      1. re: prunefeet

        forget about the pasta tho - you had their best stuff, tho I have liked the marinated eggplant and octopus salad in the front case too.

        1. re: jen kalb

          Too bad, there was one described that had sardines that the owner had canned himself, I thought it sounded interesting...oh well, even so!

          1. re: prunefeet

            The place has been around forever and, given the renewal of the immediate neighborhood, with new restaurants and stores, I've heard from a # of people that the food there has gone up again. For a long time, the conventional wisdom was "stay away" or, at least, be very picky about what you eat there. They were clearly tired, disinterested and just about ready to pack it in and close down. The food sat around for days and was far from fresh.

            Now, I'd say "go for it" and tell us how the "pasta con sarde" (spelling?)is. It was dynamite 20 years ago but Jen is correct that pasta has been a "must avoid" for years now. Tell me it's good again & my usual panelle or rice ball order can be expanded.

          2. re: jen kalb

            Agreed on the octopus/calamari salad: delicious and lightly dressed, it's the one thing i always get there...and i've liked the eggplant too...