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NYC Food Guy: Feast of San Gennaro & Italian Sandwiches

Little Italy NYC Food: Feast of San Gennaro & Italian Sandwiches

These days Little Italy is a mere shadow of its former self. It takes the Feast of San Gennaro to put one of NYC’s most historic hoods back on the map. Unfortunately, I’ve found that a lot of the food at the Feast is the same stuff you’ll find at a summer street fair in Midtown. That’s why NYC Food Guy is here, to highlight some authenticity with two Italian sandwiches that will remind you the “real” Little Italy lives on. Read on for the inside info plus a delicious street fair standard that’s actually worth eating

Grand Italian Food Center’s “Fireman Special” $7.90
Smoked Turkey, Smoked Mozzarella & Hot Pepper Sauce

There’s only so much you can say about a sandwich with three ingredients. In this case it comes down to one word, and yes, you guessed it: delicious.

* Hot pepper flakes are combined with oil and other spices (below) and then spread on a standard, chewy Italian hero roll.
* A healthy serving of smoked turkey is sliced thin right in front of you and the smoked mozzarella follows.
* The result is a confluence of flavor you’ve likely never experienced; the smokey turkey and creamy mozzarella counteract the fiery hot pepper sauce soaked into the roll.
* Another favorite at Grand Italian Food Center is the “New Yorker” (ham, salami, prosciutto, provolone, peppers and mushrooms) although I recommend you head to the next spot for an Italian hero…

Alleva of Little Italy’s “Italian Combo” $7.50
Genoa Salami, Sopressata, Prosciutto, Provolone, Roasted Red Peppers, Olive Oil,
and Balsamic Vinegar

The Alleva family has been making ricotta and mozzarella in Little Italy for over 100 years. Stepping into their store, you’re overcome by the smell of imported meats and freshly made cheeses. This is a true taste of Little Italy, just like their Italian combo. Here’s the step-by-step construction…

1) A healthy serving of roasted red peppers are placed on the inside of a mundane hero. The bread, unfortunately, was the weakest aspect of this sandwich. Read on to find out how to circumvent this roadblock. The roasted peppers, however, were delicious; integral to balancing the salt level of the Italian meats, these fresh, flavorful peppers are marinated in olive oil and spices.

2) Silky prosciutto goes down first, followed by the slightly spicy sopresatta and garlicky Genoa salami. The prosciutto, already the most expensive meat on the sandwich, was by far the tastiest.

3) It all gets a light dousing with olive oil and balsamic vinegar before the roll closes around it. Below is the result. Despite the ingredients’ authenticity, it’s not the best Italian Hero I’ve ever had, that title, so far goes to Faicco’s Pork Store on Bleecker Street between 6th & 7th Avenue.

NYC Food Guy Special Recommendation

Alleva has great meats and cheeses but their hero roll was definitely lacking. My recommendation, therefore, is to pick up cheese and sliced meats at Alleva and find your own bread to build a sandwich with. Balthazar, Grandaisy, Blue Ribbon, Vesuvio and Parisi are all bakeries within 5 to 10 minutes walk of Alleva.

MozzArepas – Street Fair Food Worth Eating

As the sign says, mozzarella cheese griddled between two pieces of moist on the inside, crispy on the outside, cornbread. At $4 per MozzArepa, it’s the perfect combo of salty, melty and sweet. I recommend you split one with a friend, however, because the MozzArepas are pretty heavy. It’s just good to get a little taste.

Grand Italian Food Center
186 Grand St., 10013

Alleva of Little Italy
188 Grand St., 10013

For more of NYC Food Guy’s delicious reviews click here.

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