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Which food haven to visit?

If you had to choose one (that's all I have time for), which would it be:
Zabar's
Dean and Deluca
Balducci's
Citeralla (SP?)

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  1. What is your goal? Just to visit a gourmet goods store while you are visiting NYC? Are you hoping to bring home specific items?

    Dean & Deluca is a chain and expensive and often crowded, plus lots of things they have are simply overpriced.

    Balducci's Manhattan store closed.

    Citarella is small but not really useful unless you're planning to, say, cook dinner that night -- more of a focus on meat and seafood and poultry than non-perishables.

    So by process of elimination, Zabar's.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Eat some (picnicky foods), take some home (out of the ordinary French and Italian cheeses, imported pasta, rice, etc). Are there other lesser known places worth visiting; I would go out of my way for it.

      1. re: itryalot

        You could make an awesome picnic by starting at Grandaisy and buying some pastries and breads, maybe a few slices of Roman style (room temp) pizza. Then walk to Jacques Torres and pick up some sweets like cookies, chocolate bars, chocolate bark, chocolate covered nuts/coffee beans/dried fruits/pretzels/potato chips, malt balls, etc. Then go to Salumeria Rosi -- they have speck, salami, proscuitto, cheeses, etc. Then hit Zabar's for anything else you might still need (antipasti ... they have a big olive bar... and drinks, juice, yogurt, etc).

    2. Kathryn's assessment couldn't be more spot on.

      The added advantage of Zabar's is that the kitchenware department upstairs is a cook's fantasy land, all at discounted prices and with a knowledgeable staff.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JoanN

        So far my husband has been able to trip me before I head upstairs. It IS a wonderful store, isn't it? We're back in NoCal and are already having withdrawal symptoms. Went to the grocery today and they had only three different fish :( BTW, the dog ate the two different sausages we bought at Despana. Boo hoo.

      2. choose between zabars and fairway

        14 Replies
        1. re: intrepid

          Have you been to the Fairway in Harlem? It's amazing.

            1. re: itryalot

              I see they have one in Brooklyn, Harlem and the UWS. Equally as good?

              1. re: itryalot

                The UWS store (on 74th) is the original store. Much smaller than the others-very cramped. The Harlem store is much larger with more selection. The Brooklyn store is also very large - the added bonus here is the cafe (very casual) with an outdoor seating area with views of the Statue of Liberty.
                Zabars is good for Jewish specialty appetizers- smoked fish, for example. A decent cheese Dept. (but certainly not the best in the city) and an excellent housewares dept. upstairs.

                You might also consider Murray's (in the west Village) for cheese).

                If Italian cheese and pasta is your thing I would definitely consider Di Paolo - on Grand Street. Probably one of the best Italian food stores in the country. They import a lot of their items- you can get cheeses, artisan cured meats, olive oils that very few places carry.. They're happy to give you a taste sample..
                If you go, try to avoid weekends-it can get very busy.

                1. re: Ann900

                  Di Paolo and Murrays are definite add on's. That Harlem or Brooklyn Stores are looking appealing. Geesh...when will we have time for sight seeing.

                  1. re: itryalot

                    Di Palo is good and if you are in that general vicinity, stop into Despana, too.

                    Maybe Russ & Daughters for Jewish appetizing?

                    1. re: kathryn

                      DiPalo's is always our first food shopping stop. We always stay at a friend's apt. so we hit them to stock up. And the new store is SO nice, isn't it? We always get their gorgonzola dolce (the best I've EVER had) and their hunter sausage. Before we returned home, we picked up ten sausages, a bottle of olive oil.

                      We also went to Despana. I'd gotten suggestions for sherry vinegar and bought two. (They had a few for sampling.) Also bought two different dried sausages. Unfortunately the dog found that in the suitcase before we got them into the fridge :( But they do have mail order.

                    2. re: itryalot

                      Sightseeing? What better sights/sites than great food.

                      1. re: itryalot

                        If your time in NYC is limited, I wouldn't bother visiting the Harlem Fairway--unless, that is, you also wanted to stop in at Dinosaur BBQ nearby. Although Fairway does have a deli and some good prepared foods, it's really a supermarket, a one-stop market for meat, fish, produce and staples. It has smoked fish, but not as good as Zabar's; it has cheese, but not as good as Di Paolo or Murrays; it has breads, but not as good as Grandaisy; it has cured meats, but not as good as Salumeria Rosi or Despana. Don't get me wrong. I love Fairway and am probably in the UWS store at least four times a week. I just wouldn't consider it a "do not miss" destination, especially with limited time and if you have to travel out of your way to get there.

                  2. re: itryalot

                    We don't live in NYC, just visit :( I haven't been to the one in Brooklyn. The UWS on is super but we recently went to the one in Harlem. They call it Harlem but my map calls is Morningside Heights. Regardless, it's at 125th Street all the way at the Hudson River. It must be their distribution center because there are several buildings, not all open to shoppers. They have a *room* that the size of a lot of *stores* I've been in that's strictly for refrigerated items. One HUGE walk-in fridge. Meats, seafood, dairy products. And on a hot summer day, I loved being in there. And Dinosaur Barbeque is across the street. We didn't eat there, having just had waffles and fried chicken at Amy Ruth's, but stopped in for a drink and eveything looked very good. But if you don't want to get that far north, then I don't think you'd be disappointed in the UWS side one. But, IMO, Zabar's is more of an experience.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Yes, but the prices are looking pretty darn good for some of the items they have. Now we are considering driving to NYC from MI so that we can bring a cooler in the trunk and load it up. I can here my DH now, "We're driving 12 hrs to buy some cheese and imported stuff". Yes, but I don't hear him complaning it as he scarfs 1/2lb and a loaf of bread down with a bottle of wine! We bring food items back as "souvenirs" for our foodie friends and family. I have been known to bring 15 bocce ball sized fresh (from the farmer that morning)mozzarellas back from Italy as checked luggage (in a cooler, inside my bag). My carry on was 6 bottles of EVOO and DH had all the handmade pasta and fresh figs. Paint a better picture?

                      1. re: itryalot

                        Depending on your airline, you can always pay for extra *luggage*. We were on American and could check a second bag up to 50# for $25. We bought a 16x16x16 moving box for $6. Oh yeah, and we always bring back two dozen bagels which we freeze individually and eat for months afterwards (toasted).

                        1. re: itryalot

                          Ah, someone after my own heart. I, too, have returned from many a trip with prized food items!

                          I think that one way to make your choice is to look at selection and price. Dean and Deluca carries a lot of stuff- but is expensive (read overpriced) , even on items carried elsewhere.It was a big deal when it first opened years ago but has since been surplanted by many other stores.

                          Citarella is my go-to place for seafood. That is what it built its reputation on and still carries some of the best seafood in the city. It's a bit pricey, but worth it. It now also has a good meat dept. For other items, the selection is very limited.

                          Balducci's is gone- and with good reason. Twenty odd years ago it was good- by the time it closed it was hardly worth mentioning.

                          Fairway- particularly the uptown and Brooklyn stores, has a vast selection- particularly good for condiments like salsa, sauces, other specialty grocery items, at very good prices. A good natural food selection as well.

                          If you want one stop shopping Fairway is probably you'r best choice. If you have time to hit specialty stores then Murray's (cheese) and Di Paolo (all things Italian) fit the bill. If you're keen on Jewish deli, go to Zabars.

                          Another great option for foodies is the Union Square Greenmarket. It's open Monday, Wed., Fri and Sat, although for the best selection Fri and Sat are the best days.You'll find 80-100 vendors selling everything from artisinal cheese, baked good, exceptional organically raised pork (Flying Pigs Farm is my fav), lamb (3-Corner Field Farm), poultry, eggs, an amazing selection of produce - virtually everything anyone could desire.

                    2. re: c oliver

                      yes was there for the opening, and probably 80 times since enjoy

                  3. I forgot there's also a really fun and comprehensive, though small, in Grand Central. I believe the name is Grand Central Market (catchy, huh?) They have dozens of vendors there. We stopped in there on our way to visit friends in CT. Picked up cheeses, meat, seared ahi, bread. Then stopped in the wine shop next door.

                    1. Zabars is so much fun!!! Love it