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May 17, 2010 06:34 AM

Does anyone remember La Focacceria on 1st Avenue?

La Focacceria was on 1st Avenue, around 9th Street if memory serves. It was a Sicilian restaurant that served vestedi, sfinchione, rice balls and great pasta fagioli. My family went there for many years. I moved away to California and when I returned to NY it was gone. I honestly don't know if the food was any good, but my memories of that place are golden. It was owned by Vinnie, a burly Italian American who, rumor had it, had been to prison for murder. His family all participated in the business and it really was a totally unique spot. Does anybody remember La Focacceria? Does anyone know if they've opened somewhere else? What I wouldn't do for a slice of their sfinchione!

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  1. It's been gone for years now and, as far as I know, the owners didnt open anywhere else. The closest to it, food wise, is Ferdinando's in Brooklyn on Union St between Columbia and Hicks.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Steve R

      I'd add Gino's in Bensonhurst to that list - and the food is better than Ferdinando's.

      Also Joe's of Ave U.

    2. Sure do. I also remember another, even older, foccacceria on 1st and 11th, reflecting the legacy of that once Sicilian micro-nabe around 1st and 11th (long lost good bread bakeries and Italian groceries, and, of course, Veneiro's). Ferdinando's won't have your sfincione, but will have vastedde, panelle, and caponatina. There's a pizzeria on 18th ave in Bensonhurst around 65th St that has also been a foccacceria; perhaps a CHer will identify. They may well have sfincione. Also, the Palermo bakery on 17th ave and 79th usually has sfincione on the counter, plus excellent semolina bread.

      1. Thanks for all the suggestions. It makes me happy just to know that others remember La Foccacceria. I haven't been to any of the places suggested... can't wait to check them out!

        4 Replies
        1. re: luckiestduck

          That was a great great place!!! It was on First Ave and like 10th for years till they moved to a store a couple of blocks South between I think 7th and St Marks (Both on the Eastside of First Ave.. Yes, Vinnie was a great guy, kinda looked like Paulie from the Bowery Boys. The food was down home from Sicily, vesteddi, rice balls, stuffed peppers and stuffed artichokes in addition to some great pasta dishes. They hung in there through some shaky neighborhood changes in the late 70's and 80's. Once the health department made him change a wood cutting board for bread that actually was bowed in the middle (like a mezzaluna) from many years of use. The last few years it seemed his son was working there and not to cast aspersions, he looked like he HATED WORKING THERE. I thought then that when the old man goes, this place is history... So after a out of town trip I returned to the hood with it shuttered and closed... The store is now a gyro place or something... Progress BLOWS, There is nothing really like it downtown I think, My Dad many, many years ago first turned me on to vesteddi at place on Union St . Brookyn, maybe it's the one noted above....

          1. re: winstars

            Remembered,but long first vastedi experience was at that shop.Things change,but Bar Veloce on 1st Ave. near 7th St. makes a very good sfincione,the only place that serves it.[in Manhattan,anyhow...]

            Veloce Pizzeria
            103 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003

            1. re: winstars

              The one on Union in Bklyn is Ferdinando's, which I recommended back when the original poster started this thread. It's still pretty good.

              Just as an aside, I've been back to Joe's of Ave U (also Bklyn) several times since this thread started, the most recent being just last week. They've really improved the place and everything we ate (sardines, vesteddi, panelle, artichokes....) was very good. It's a steam table operation with everything prepared in advance, but it does enough business that things move quickly and are fresh.

            2. re: luckiestduck

              Yes, I remember it. This was the first place my then boyfriend and now husband went to eat together. He grew up in Stuyvesant Town and also remembers the 1st and 11th location. He knew the owners and sons simply from eating there. Once the father/owner gave it up (or perhaps passed away I don't remember which) the sons kept it open for a few years and tried to change it (I guess they thought modernizing it would be good but sometimes you just don't change an icon) Not surprisingly it went downhill and closed. I haven't thought of this place in years! But I too have great memories of La Foccacceria! All the places suggested are spot on and while none can really rival our lost establishment these will mirror some of those memories.

            3. The place was great. I remember the Manhattan sprcia soda from when I was a little kid . It was a treat usy to travel from the Bronx for vastedi, tripe and all of their Sicilian specialties.
              Great memories of Vinnie , a real New York character

              1. First time I had vestedi was 1961. They cost 25 cents and with a bottle of Manhattan Special you added 10 cents. I was always a white bread, ham and cheese kind of kid, but when we moved to 1st Ave between 11th & 12th Streets that was it, I fell in love with a sandwich. I never liked the meat so Vinny Bondi said I could have it with just cheese. Til today this is my favorite food in the whole world. I heard the woman that was a cook in the second store bought her own store and makes vestedi. I think it is on 1st Ave. near 14th Street on the same side. I live in Jersey so haven't been there yet, but when I go back I will make that my first stop and bring a dozen or more home, whatever the cost.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bernice7

                  I used to get vested with just cheese, too! I was a kid when I frequented the place with family, and I really wish that I could have tasted the food as an adult. I'll look for the place you mentioned next time in the area!