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Jan 5, 2007 10:23 PM

Recent trip to Di Palo's

I spent my lunch hour at Di Palo Fine Foods on 200 Grand Street. So even though I went during the week, and the line appeared short, I ended up spending an hour there! Granted, a fair amount of that was trying different things, but a fair amount was waiting. My guess is that I waited half an hour for them to help just 2 people. But the waiting gives you a chance to listen to what other people are ordering and sometimes get a taste of what they are trying. They seem to be discounting the pannetone since it is post-Christmas (though the stuff lasts for months). I've never tried the good stuff (one customer told me to make sure butter is one of the ingredients) and it was $9. Tried some of their italian ham with rosemary--this was so delicious, I bought a bunch. They also just got a shipment of the newest olive oils, which they will let you taste. Not expensive either--mine was $23 for maybe 750ml. Bought other assorted cheeses and meats (incl. their mozzerella balls). Luckily for my wallet I managed to avoid the grocery items, it all looked so delicious but pricey, like the $14 slitti version of nutella (chocolate dreams are made of these).

So next time I brave the lines, what else should I get? Also, any better times to go? Was it that I went at Friday or that it was lunch time?

BTW after trying all their samples, I picked up a pound of cherries in chinatown and that was enough for lunch!

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  1. I try to go first thing on Saturday morning - w/n half an hour of their opening. The purpose of my trip is usually to buy Bottarga - hard to find in NYC (for me at least) and about 1/5th the price of D&D's. I also end up picking up random things - a number of which are still sitting in my pantry since they were of the "Oh, I've never seen this before? Wonder what/how it is? I'll get some and try it.".

    2 Replies
      1. re: Produce Addict

        With pasta - some links - there's quite a bit on Home Cooking about it (more than these two threads):

    1. I never seem to have less than a 20 minute wait no matter when I visit.

      Funny thing is Di Palo's is probably one of the few stores where I rarely mind the wait and that's even when all I'm buying is a 1/4 lb of Parmiggiano Regiano and a 1/4 lb. of fresh ricotta.

      1 Reply
      1. re: was_bk

        Agreed - I enjoy the wait and allot the nec. time - usually while my husband is driving around since it is difficult to find parking.

      2. I have found bottarga at Buonitalia in Chelsea Market. My favorite visit was about a year ago- it snowed only a few inches, but that usually paralyzes the city. I found (multiple) parking spots within close distance and spent about two hours getting tutorials on different cheeses, olive oils, etc. as there was almost no one in the store. Probably won't happen again, at least for me.

        5 Replies
        1. re: markabauman

          Do you remember off hand how much it was at Chelsea Market?

          I love taking advantage of snow in the city!

          1. re: MMRuth

            I don't remember specifically how much it was. I also found it at Grace's Market on the upper East side. Also depends on whether it's mullet or tuna roe. Usually shave or grate it over pasta. Don't need much, so a little goes a long way. Is expensive-wish I could be more specific. There is no waste.

            1. re: markabauman

              Thanks for the feedback - at Di Palo's, it's about $80 a pound - the vacuumed packed mullet roe usually comes in at about 1/4 pound or so. At D&D it was $125 for the *exact* same package. Agree that it goes a long way.

              1. re: MMRuth

                Update - was just at Di Palo's (when they opened at 9am - wonderful - found parking, no line to speak of) and the grey mullet bottarga is now $89 a pound, the tuna is $99 a pound. Bought four packets of the former and they ranged in price from about $22 to $28. Got the gorgonzola dulce for the first time and, as always, the parmesan was delicious.

            2. re: MMRuth

              MMRuth, I was at Buon Italia in Chelsea Market today, where I had my first introduction to bottarga. (Well, second. This board is my first). It looked like the stuff here: (sorry, website's in italian, and i have no idea what it says, but i'm thankful for google images nonetheless). They were selling it for $95/lb.

              They also had jars of bottarga for 6.95 and 9.95 (depending on size).

          2. For a long time, I didn't understand the appeal of DiPalo's, largely because I couldn't stand the wait in such close quarters. But on my last trip, I was stuck by how lovely and gracious the staff is. They take their time letting you taste things, explaining where everything comes from, and slicing meats with incredible care. They operate on a leisurely pace, and don't rush you, despite the line (and more of a line develops as a consequence).

            I love the Arthur Avenue area in the Bronx, stop there regularly, and would argue that some products are better there (ahem, on the Outer Boroughs board, of course). But the level of service at DiPalo's is orders of magnitude better than my Arthur Ave faves.

            1. Lou's a great guy and his brother Sal as well. And that in itself is both great and not so great. Great, for obvious reasons, not so great because the time he spends explaining the origin of the (insert product) and what the weather was like the day he visited (insert producer/farmer) in (insert Italian city), you've been there 45 minutes and have little to show for it.

              Personally, I've learned to enjoy the hour+ I spend waiting for delicious food. It makes a city dweller "stop", something I think most of us forget to do once in awhile.

              Anyway, what I get there (just about every time):

              * Crucola - deliciously addictive cheese, if they don't have it in, I get its sister cheese (I forget the name) made by the same guy
              * Gorgonzola Dolce - the creamiest blue you've ever had
              * Fresh Ricotta - yum. I immediately go home and have a spoonful with a little bit of really good honey. Then make a huge tray of baked ziti with it...saving some for snacking and using for pasta.
              * Fresh mozzarella - for ziti.
              * Marinara sauce - I love theirs
              * Usually a meat - prosciutto, speck and/or soppressata
              * I skip the bread there, not so good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: dkstar1

                about that Gorgonzola Dolce.....

                During one wait in line a customer at the counter ordered some and a discussion ensued about the uses for it and how to make a quick pasta sauce. I've never been a big fan of Gorgonzola but ever since then I can't get stop thinking about it.

                Next time I shop there, I think it's time I give it a try.