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Aug 7, 2012 08:45 PM

Guanciale on Arthur Avenue? And a few other AA questions

I'm wondering if there is a store which sells Guanciale on Arthur Avenue? I'd imagine there has to be but I can't find any definite info online. I've been to Arthur Avenue many times before but I only recently discovered guanciale so I can't recall if I've ever seen it before. Does Calabria sell it perhaps? And I'm wondering if anyone has experience buying a ton of guanciale, vacuum sealing it, and freezing it for later usage. I've only had guanciale once and left it on the counter and used it within a week, so I have no clue how to store it.

I'm also wondering a bit about Calandras cheese shop, because I have never been there before. Is the fresh mozzarella as good as Casa Della and are there any other must tries?

The other thing I've been wondering is about potential differences in quality for some staple foods among the shops in the area - particularly, the Prosciutto di Parma for example. I've always been getting it at Teitel Bros who have an unbeatable price of ~$15/lb. Usually I've been satisfied but last time I was unhappy with the quality of the Prosciutto I bought. I've never actually bought Prosciutto anywhere else on Arthur Avenue to compare to, does anyone think the Prosciutto somewhere else would be better? I'd imagine since it's imported it should all be the same, but perhaps that isn't the case. Does anyone sell Prosciutto di San Daniele on AA? I had some for the first time on a trip to Seattle and it was amazing.,

Thanks guys!

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  1. I would be surprised if Biancardi and Calabria do not sell guanciale. I've bought mine in Manhattan, at DiPalo, and treat it as I do pancetta..freeze in zip-loc bags if I do not use within two weeks or so. I now have a house-made pancetta stresa (cured with plenty of peperoncino) from Biancardi in my freezer, where it has been for months..I take it out and use a bit, refreezing the remainder. I see no ill effects from this treatment.

    Calandra is wonderful. I like their mozzarella, fresh ricotta, and their pecorino from Calabria, with a peperoncino-crusted rind. They also have great aged ricotta. To my mind, the service at that store ranks with the best in the area.

    There is quite a bit of detail about Caladra and other AA shops on this forum, which you can find with a search.

    2 Replies
    1. re: erica

      i can't remember if biancardi's has guanciale, but vincent's definitely does.

      1. re: erica

        I also really love Calandra, they are so incredibly gracious there.The first time I was there the guy serving us insisted upon giving us a small container of fresh ricotta on the house, to go along with the 4 cheeses we'd purchased. The next time we bought fresh ricotta. I can't say which is better but I can say Calandra is a great place.

      2. Calabria has guanciale and 2 types of pancetta as well. Their pork products are generally all
        excellent. Agree about Calandra--the current owner ( I believe he's from South America) started out workign for the previous ownership, and then bought the place. Teitel's basic cheeses (parmigiano, pecorino romano, provolones) are almost always great buys, but I've never been impressed with their salumi. I'd imagine Biancardi might take better care of its prosciutto.

        1. @bob96: Hmm, I actually went to AA shortly after this post and I went to Calabria pork store and the guy there said they did not have guanciale. Granted he wasn't the friendliest or most helpful person, so is he just wrong? I did get some of the pancetta, but he did not even mention they had two kinds. But I did enjoy the pancetta I got very much. The service was kind of lacking though.

          Yeah I went to Teitel and got the Locatelli pecorino romano and prosciutto, and backing up my previous experience I thought the cheese was very good & fresh but the prosciutto was somewhat lacking. I'll have to try spending a bit more and going elsewhere.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Extelleron

            Very sorry about this--a few years ago, they did. And they had both a rolled and flattened pancetta, one of which was coated with crushed red pepper. They might have stopped making guanciale for lack of a large enough market for it, At leas the service hasn't changed much. There's always DiPalo (and maybe Faicco on Bleecker St, though I can't vouch...).

            1. re: Extelleron

              Am I alone in feeling that the only proscuitto worth eating is from Parma and ONLY IF you are IN Parma -- otherwise, you might as well save your money and buy your favorite brand of ham?

              Second best to me would be Osvaldo proscuitto when you are IN Friuli-Venezia-Giulia (Cormons).

              It's not that I think the atmosphere makes it special. It's that the best quality prosciutto is retained within the localities where it is made best, and it doesn't travel well, so that even what's sold elsewhere at premium prices is a pale shadow of what prosciutto really is.

              1. re: barberinibee

                So you are saying one should only eat cured meats from their region of origin?

            2. In my experience, though prices at Teitel Bros can't be beat, the quality of cheese/salumi everywhere else (Calabria, Casa Della Mozz, Calandra, Mike's) is better.

              There used to be a lovely, quiet, young thin man with a moustache at Calabria. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the very gracious, warm service I'd get there from him, though I haven't seen him around in years. Everyone else ranges from neutral to grumpy. That being said, their fresh ricotta (from the secret stash in the back, not the generic pails in the display cases in front) is the most delicious thing around.

              9 Replies
              1. re: rose water

                Teitel's basic cheese offerings--imported or domestic provolne, parmigiano reggiano, pecorino romano--I've found to be comparable to anyone else's, but do agree about the salumi and the other cheeses. I wish I'd known about the Calabria ricotta, tho, when I did my weekly shopping on AA.

                1. re: bob96

                  Maybe I overstated. I've gotten parmigiano reggiano there more than anything else. More often that not, I've found it to be dried out, then within days it develops moldy spots.

                  I find that Calabria only has the ricotta about 50% of the times these days. They used to have it much more consistently. It's got a runny texture, and a pronounced funky depth to the flavor.

                  The good news is that pumpkin bureks are back at Tony and Tina's just in time for fall!

                  1. re: rose water

                    Is there a name for that ricotta, or should we just ask for the ricotta from the back room!?

                    1. re: erica

                      Essentially yes! I generally ask for the fresh ricotta. If they go to the display case in front, I'll ask if they have the stuff from the back.

                      1. re: erica

                        But make sure you're not getting "ricotta forte" a very pungent and sharply flavored ricotta favored by folks form Puglia/Bari and a special taste--Calandra may have it.

                        1. re: bob96

                          Thanks to both of you! I did not know that ricotta forte was even sold here in NYC.


                          1. re: bob96

                            Hmmm...I never knew there was such a thing. Have you ever tried Calabria's ricotta, bob96? It's definitely a bit pungent, and more deeply flavored than traditional ricotta--that's why I love it--but I wouldn't say that it's "very pungent and sharply flavored." If it is indeed ricotta forte, then I'll know what to look for elsewhere.

                            1. re: rose water

                              It's been a while since I've had Calandra's ricotta, but I don't remember it being all that pungent--more so than supermarket brands, certainly more lactic and a little more funk and sour, like it should be. But ricotta forte is really a different animal. Erica--I believe Coluccio has ricotta forte, too.

                              1. re: bob96

                                Thanks, Bob! I did have my share of ricotta forte in Puglia, where it is incorporated into many meat and vegetable pasta sauces. I liked it well enough. Good to know I can find it here if I get a craving!!