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Apr 2, 2014 08:43 AM

Grocery Shopping on Arthur Avenue im quite new to Arthur Avenue but just found out they sell a lot of incredible stuff here. I used to travel all the way to Manhattan for everything as I found groceries mediocre here but this place is quickly becoming a favorite. Where should I go? So far I got this down:

Casa Della Mozzarella: they sell incredible mozzarella here
Calandra's Cheese: Cheese is great here but their ricotta is especially notable.
Teitel Brothers: Great for olives, Parmagiano, and other hard cheeses. Don Luigi Extra Virgin Olive Oil is distributed exclusively by them.
Calabria's Pork Store: The place to go to for cured meats and sausages.
Randazzos and Consenza's both equally good fish markets (thank god I dont need to travel to the Lobster Place anymore!!!!)

okay...BUTCHERS....There are 3 main ones...that is Biancardi's, Peter's Meat Market, and Vincent's. What is your opinion of these 3? They all seem much more affordable than the butchers in Manhattan which is great for me as a student. But who should I go to for which? I realize that many people have developed a loyalty to only one but i would be more interested in what they specialize in. For instance, Peter's Meat Market is definitely the go to for innards. Their clients also tend to go for their veal a lot which is wonderful because its made from the hind shank and not the shoulder. Then at Biancardi's, lamb is really popular. They are also the best to go to for less common meats like quail, rabbit, and pheasant. I tend to pick at random where I want my steaks from. Who do you think sells the best steaks? And pork, i have been buying from the Flying Pigs Farm at the Union Square Greenmarket for their heritage breed pork. Though it would be nice to have a backup here as its easy to pass by here on my way home from class. Chicken...not sure. Are they all hormone/antibiotic free or is it just Vincents?

And is it just me or are there no good sources of produce here??? When I went to that big marketplace, the quality of the produce varied so much. It may be cheaper here than the Union Square Greenmarket but if its not that good, it doesn't matter how cheap it is.

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  1. What about bread? Madonia Brothers' olive bread and prosciutto bread are pretty great.

    2 Replies
    1. re: foodiemom10583

      I actually stopped by there for ciabatta the other day. :)

    2. Good summary. Teitel is also probably the best place in the Metro area to buy DOP San Marzanos. Also among the best for imported dried pasta from quality makers.

      Certainly Madonia for bread, as mentioned. They have wonderful whole-grain bread in 2 shapes..baguette and round.

      Produce at the indoor market may be cheap, and you can sometimes find items like cardoons which you may not find easily in mainstream markets. But I also find quality decent to fair. No comparison with USQ Greenmarket. But look in that space for the stand with the dried pasta and other imported goods, against the north wall.

      At the fish markets, look for vongole veraci (tiny clams from Italy, as long as you don't mind buying from afar!!), sea urchin, sardines, and other great items at excellent prices.

      Calandra is good for all cheeses.

      And the highlight of the area, for me, is Borgatti Ravioli, source of not only the best fresh pasta in NYC, but also vg for imported canned items as well as dried pastas.

      13 Replies
      1. re: erica

        Wonder if they have the Ciao brand of DOP San Marzanos. I tried to look but it was so crowded in there that I just took my olive oil and left. I understand that there is an issue with companies mislabeling their products as San Marzano and some even add the DOP mark to tomatoes not grown in the approved regions. So im always on the side of caution when buying them. A little sad as this makes the DOP label meaningless which I suspect is why some are underwhelmed when they cook with San Marzanos. Found out Ciao's was highly recommended by HuffPost. Plus Roberto Caporuscio of Kestes Pizzeria and US President of the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletan uses it. Hes known for prioritizing the quality of his ingredients so I trust his choice. If Teitels has it, I would be thrilled.

        not sure why i would mind the clams coming all the way from Italy. That only makes them more attractive.

        I would love too try that pasta shop. Been using DeCecco and wonder how this compares. Though I hope to one day make my own pasta.

        1. re: HououinKyouma

          I am pretty certain that Teitel does not sell that brand of San Marzanos. They usually have them stacked outside the store, with the price marked. But agree about the potential for mislabeling. What can you do but experiment and find a brand that suits?

          The pasta from Borgatti is far and away the best I have found in the US....and it freezes beautifully. Some here will shudder, but recently I found a package that had been in my freezer for almost a year and guess what? It was fine when cooked! Prices are very low per pound; they usually cut the long pasta in the squared, chitarra shape. I ask for "heavy" spaghetti, as instructed by one of the lovely female employees. (Believe they have two or more types of pasta dough)

          1. re: erica

            Teitel's DOP san mrzons are really a greta buy; they used to be packed not in sludgy puree but in liquid, which lends afresher taste. Some packers, btw, are using "San marzano" loosely--Nina says its are "packed" in the region, but really they could be a plum tomato variety from anywhere in Italy; Cento caught heat by selling something called "certified San Marzano', which they claimed were DOP in all; but seal only--they tried to make the case about needlessly restrictive/costly regs. Thry're usualy a dependable outfit, so I was dismayed by this ploy. But while there's no sesne that the DOP label is "meaningless" there's really no way to absolutely guarantee DOP sourcing if packers are forging labels and serial numbers. Same for DOC or AOP wine--and even then, the wine may be legit but still be a poor version of the standard. This deceit, if there is any, shouldn't last long, given more vigilance in Italy (and Brand Italy's fear of even more scandal), but you can only taste. And it's also useful to remember that DOP, like its equivalents for wine and other products, only guarantees that standards of origin, growth, production, and baseline taste and composition are met--not quality or even tasting pleasure. I keep experimenting with labels, and expect seasonal variation, too--I've even taking to blending different brands based on their typical taste profiles: for a while, san marzanos seemed to have little freshness and acid, so I'd mix with another can that did.

            1. re: bob96

              Was really bothered by all this that I just had to look more into this. The degree of abuse in mislabeling according to Edoardo Ruggiero, President of the Consorzio DOP San Marzano, is around 95%. :(
              Only 5% of San Marzano tomatoes I'll see are even real.

              To add to that, I found out that the Ciao D.O.P. San Marzanos the US President of the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletan uses might not even be real. While it has all of the necessary labels, its cans aren't titled "Pomodoro San Marzano dell'Agro Sarnese Nocerino D.O.P." Instead, they are labeled in English as S.Marzano Tomato of Agro Sarnese-Nocerino. Are D.O.P. tomatoes even allowed to have English labels??? A shame as I also loved how they include a harvest date on their can.

              With these odds, I dont think I want to play Russian Roulette with San Marzanos. I get experimenting but thats 5% out theres thats real. Im playing it safe and using Danicoop who Ruggiero is also the president of. I think I can trust the Consorzio President's own tomatoes. And the fact that someone actually went to check out the fields where their tomatoes grow is even more comforting. Luckily, these are the ones Eataly sells so I think my quest has ended.

              I hope Eataly's tomatoes aren't as old as their olive oil though. 2012 was pushing it and the 2013 harvest has been ready for some time now. Danicoop's includes a harvest date so it can easily be checked. I've decided If I cant get his tomatoes, i'll get Muir Glen which is what I've always trusted for quality.

              1. re: HououinKyouma

                Thanks for the news about the Consorzio's own findings--have you a link to it? I'd like to explore a bit more. In the meantime, I keep trying and find labels that I like, and these change from time to time, no longer limited to "san marzano". I've not seen any 2013 harvest oils yer, but I;m no longer near a variety of shops that would carry them.I did see a Spanish picual evoo from a respected coop in Andalucia for a fair price, tried it, and found it fresh and strongly flavored. Most use-by dates are now showing 2015 on many bottles, and many producers claim to have a 2-year span, so I'm guessing some at elast are from the early 2013 harvest. The Kirkland/Costco Tuscan IGP shows a fall, 2013 harvest date, and tastes like it. Good value.

                1. re: bob96

                  Unfortunately, he doesn't really go in depth into it.
                  As the DOP label has no legal standing here in the states, im sure its more of a speculation. His position does give his word some leverage though. The Consorzio only has control over products that exit Italy so I dont think they are able to monitor tomatoes in the United States. Its no secret that there are U.S. producers trying to pass themselves off as authentic San Marzano but they have no power here. And Im sure you heard of the scandals where mislabeled DOP tomatoes have been seized.

                  According to Article 4 of the Disciplinare Di Produzione Della Denomiazione di Origine Protettai for the San Marzano Tomato DOP, their tomatoes must be grown according to traditional cultivation methods.
                  Because of this, I think a good way to narrow it down, in addition to all necessary labeling is to check what producers are listed in the Slow Food Presidia. Their foundation seeks to protect local food traditions. Be aware that this list applies to all Neapolitan heirloom tomato varieties in Campania grown by traditional methods so you'll have to filter out who grows San Marzano DOP tomatoes and who grows other heirloom varieties or still doesn't follow DOP. Still, this eliminated those who dont use traditional methods as well as "San Marzanos" from outside of Italy:

                  and btw...the New York International Olive Oil Competition is about to release their results today. Im sure new 2013 harvest stocks will be entering stores after this.

                  1. re: HououinKyouma

                    in addition there is also word that Italy exports more tomatoes than they grow. Some of those Product of Italy tomatoes may not even be from Italy at all:

                    1. re: HououinKyouma

                      Here's a 2009 USDA report; it shows that Italy produced 4 million tons of tomatoes, 90% for processing, and exported 113,000 tons of processed tomato. It imported about 17,000 tons of fresh and prepared fruit, almost all for processing into sauces, some for re-exporting as a processed product. Tracebility is an issue, of course, like it has been with olive oils "packed in" or imported from Italy but sourced from other Mediterranean countries and then re exported; it's legal as long as it;s labelled properly. The Spanish find they make more money shipping large quantities of their enormous crop to Italy rather than try to build a high volume Spanish export trade. That may change. Frankly, I''m now most interested in quality, freshness, and taste, and less concerned about going nuts over origins. I buy extra virgin oil from producers I can trust, at a price that reflects it, and taste and taste to develop some knowledge of what the genuine article should be like. There's lots of very good stuff out there.,

                      1. re: bob96

                        To be fair, standards set by the DOP also help ensure quality, not just authenticity as it also aimes to protect its reputation. They have strict cultivation methods and conditions that must be met. It is costly for producers to follow the DOP regulations. Those that truly do put the extra money and effort to follow every single regulation of the DOP will be more likely to result in a product of quality. I included those listed under the Slow Foods Presidia in my other response as as extra insurance of quality. The more sources a producer is verified by indicates greater standards of quality control. Yes theres a lot of good stuff out there, but thats a lot of stuff to filter through. You need some way of narrowing it down, to know what to look for. Thats why people go for the DOP rather than that San Marzano brand you see in the white can which was actually grown in California. If a company has to deceive you by proclaiming itself authentic San Marzano and covering cans in Italian writing to get you to buy their product or to mark up prices, how can I trust the quality of the product when its pretending to be something its not??? The DOP label may not be completely reliable but they limit your choices and help facilitate your search for that quality product. Interested in freshness. Thats what harvest dates are for.

                        Anyways, my point is, an honest company is more likely to create a quality product. A dishonest one is more concerned about your money than the tomatoes.

                        I am not saying that a San Marzano has to be DOP to be good. I am interested in companies who have faith in their product and dont use deception to get you to buy from them. For example, the first producer in the Slow Foods Presidia list I gave is Terra Amore e Fantasia di Sabato Abagnale. Their tomatoes have been verified through a DNA test to be identical to the San Marzano. They are not DOP certified as the owner does not agree with all of the regulations of the DOP, but they still maintain equally high standards. In fact, the owner is especially passionate about how his tomatoes are grown which is why he refuses to change it just to be certified. Though they are San Marzano he does not call it that. He calls them Il Miracolo di San Gennaro. Its that honesty and passion I look for in a company. And you can guarantee that the cans are fresh as he produces only small yields and his cans sell out quick. Sadly, they are wayyy too expensive to use regularly. I may try them once but $13.50 not including tax for a 28 oz. can of tomatoes? You might as well burn money.

                        1. re: HououinKyouma

                          I think we're going a little off topic, "Grocery Shopping on Arthur Avenue". San Marzano standards should be discussed under a separate topic.

            2. re: erica

              So i'll get a different spaghetti if I just say "spaghetti" as opposed to "heavy spaghetti"???

     i need to make some pasta. Will try and get there today. I'll probably get some pappardelle and make my last Italian American dish before my Marcella Hazan book gets delivered next week. She'll probably turn in her grave knowing I put meatballs in pasta but im cooking a Thomas Keller dish so it shouldn't be too bad. Cant wait to try Borgatti's.

              1. re: HououinKyouma

                I know it seems like a code, and I am not entirely certain if just saying "spaghetti" would net the same product as asking for the "heavy dough." But that is the phrase that the kind woman (I think her name is Joanie) told me to ask for. I do this, rather than order from the chart on the counter that shows the various widths, numbered.

                Kind of mysterious..maybe ask for clarification and let us know!! All I can tell you for sure is that the pasta is sublime.

                BTW: They also sell "San Marzanos." Thanks for the very interesting, and discouraging, research on that topic. Maybe try a can from Teitel and see what you think. I think they are $2.49, or $2.69. Teitel also good for good canned Italian tuna. And they have good prices on that packaged fresh pasta branded Sapori di Cilento, or something similar. That one comes in many cut shapes and is not at all bad.

          2. re: erica

            Those Borgatti Raviolli also freeze really well. I can whip up a very quick and easy dinner with these.

          3. If I were shopping Arthur Avenue, I'd definitely stop @ Vincent's Meat Market for their Lamb Sausage. It is most definitely *not* a Merguez-style, but an Italian sausage made from leg of lamb. Yum.

            1 Reply
            1. Yes please do not miss Borgatti's for amazing fresh pasta, including great ravioli. There is nothing like it anywhere. Farther east along E187St, Terranova Bakery I think has the most traditional, delicious hard crust pane di casa, although either Addeo or Madonia could also be the best Italian bread bakery in any other city. Teitel the first stop for basics (not a great fan of their limited olive oil supply, though), and the Boiano brothers produce in the market can be a great find for things like baby artichokes, moscato grapes, escarole and other greens, and figs--but as Erica notes, quality can be dicey, hit or miss. The shop just across from Boiano's (not Mike's Deli) has a wide range of dried pastas, speciality cheeses, packaged foods, and olive oils, but watch out for old oil. Stopped buying much meat a while back, but when I did, Peter's was my choice--the folks there are terrifically helpful and skilled. You can draw your own opinions about Mike's Deli, though.

              2 Replies
              1. re: bob96

                Heard about their pane di casa too. I'll buy a loaf next time.

                Teitel's olive oil can be a bit limited but I like their Don Luigi for general purpose as its quite affordable. Looking for a nice delicate Ligurian olive oil as Don Luigi's can be a bit assertive. But for some reason there aren't that many 2013 harvest ones. Eataly only has 2012 as of now so its a bit old but i'll check that shop you recommended.

                Mike's Deli was on Throwdown with Bobby Flay though so I need to try their eggplant parmesan (they won). Only tried their sandwiches so thats on my to do list.

                1. re: HououinKyouma

                  I don't know much about Mike's Deli (usually make my own sandwiches), but if you buy take-out eggplant parm, you should try DiPalo's version (Grand Street, Manhattan).

                  I LOVE shopping in the AA neighborhood. Almost all of the vendors are exceedingly friendly and helpful and each time I go, I make a new discovery.

                  One item that may not have been mentioned here is the house-cured Calabrese pancetta from Biancardi (the other butchers might have it as well). It is crusted with dried red pepper (Calabria signature) and both quality and price are excellent! OH, my, I could just go on and on about this area....!!

              2. Always first stop, Teitels. Then I take the booty to the car before really getting down to business.

                I prefer Calabria Pork Store for my meats, but I mostly get sausage and braciole, and some cured stuff there.

                What about pastries? Can't go home without something from DeLillo or even Palumbo. And always, always, an artichoke pie to eat in or take home at Full Moon.

                4 Replies
                1. re: coll

                  Teitel seems to be the only place left that carries good imported Italian burrata. Mike's used to carry a GREAT one, but now they make their own, and it is TERRIBLE. $10 for a chewy ball of mozzarella with a watery center. Casa della Mozzarella also makes their own - I haven't had it, but with burrata I'm not particularly interested in domestic ones, because I want it made with buffalo milk, and the domestic ones are all cow.

                  1. re: biondanonima

                    I am reasonably certain that the burrata made in and around Andria, where the cheese was invented, is made from cow's milk. So I am wondering about the origin of the imported burrata.....still lots of buffalo in the Paestum area....maybe the cheese you like comes from there?

                    What about they import good burrata?

                    I know that Di Palo in Manhattan carries it, and they also make their own.....

                    I shy away from these fresh imported cheeses due to concerns about decline in quality due to long transit time..but willing to try on your recommendation!

                    1. re: erica

                      As far as I know, burrata is now mostly made from cow's milk, though it has been made also with latte di bufala. It's not to my taste, so I've not bothered to seek out best versions--for some retrograde reason, I'm perfectly happy with a really fresh fior di latte. I miss the plaited version--la treccia--that used to be very common in the latticini of my youth. I'd used to love to bring it home in its wet cardboard container and pull apart the strands. You'd buy mozzarella in salt, without salt, and as scamorza, really a few-days old and slightly firmer version. Casa and Calandra are fine producers; Mike's I always found to be slapdash in almost everything they make.

                      1. re: bob96

                        Squid, thanks for the link. That post was a labor of love, though obviously I couldn't include every last thing.

                        I'd say the reason the burrata here at Mike's (now branded as Greco's) is bad is not because of cow's milk but because they use polly-o curds and, as bob96 points out, everything they do is slapdash.

                        (When I asked Kurt, the menacingly big, particularly rude counter guy, why they don't make their own curds, he basically said it would be disgusting.)

                        I find that Dave Greco is all hype and bluster (he's the one responsible for AA's "Real Little Italy of New York" branding, see:


                        The buratta at Calandra has a really delicious "inside", for which they use Italian cream, but the "rind" is on the leathery side. Joe's has a softer, better "rind."

                        I don't think Tino's gets enough credit for carrying excellent pasta, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and other pantry specialties. I tried to correct that in the post squid linked to.