Tag Archives: italian

Ferrara Bakery and Cafe in Little Italy

Pleasantly full from an earlier dinner of pasta and surrounded by a quiet murmur of Italian, I scoured the streets of Little Italy for my destination: Ferrara Bakery and Cafe.  Night was setting in on this Tuesday evening, but then, all of a sudden, Ferrara emerged out of the darkness with a large, dazzling sign and a bold red awning.  Everything about the exterior distinguished it from its surroundings, from the antique car replica balanced atop the awning to the light and laughter that emanated from within.  It was even bigger than I expected, and I quickened my pace to get inside faster.

The bright exterior of Ferrara
The bright exterior of Ferrara

I had actually stumbled upon Ferrara online while researching another article that I was writing for the Barnard Bulletin.  Ferrara first opened in 1892 as a small neighborhood cafe that quickly earned praise for the freshness and quality of its products.  The bakery is now in its fifth generation of family ownership and still going strong after over 120 years of business.

The full display cases
The full display cases

Once entering, you have the option to either choose bakery items to go or sit down at one of the many tables.  Deciding to make a night out of it, we sat down and were greeted by a very large, varied menu offering everything from specialty pastries to gelato flavors.

The many options (not even including the drink and coffee menu)
The many options (not even including the drink and coffee menu)

Faced with so many options, I decided to go with the trio of miniatures in order to try more of a variety.  I chose the chocolate cannoli, Dacquoise, and raspberry tart in order to balance out my love for both chocolate and berries.

My trio of miniatures
My trio of miniatures

The raspberry tart was a classic combination of a creamy base topped with fresh raspberries and powdered sugar, all contained within a tart.  The chocolate cannoli satisfied my desire for a “quintessential Italian dessert” with a thick layer of dark chocolate encasing the shell.  The most unique dessert that I chose was the specialty pastry Dacquoise, a bittersweet chocolate purse filled with praline and gianduia cream.  The beautifully crafted chocolate exterior gave way to a mousse-like interior with a rich flavor.  If I didn’t have to get back to campus to finish work, I would have stayed much longer in the friendly atmosphere of Ferrara and ordered a coffee too.  As if I needed more motivation to return, Ferrara also offers brunch, so I will be venturing downtown much more often.


30-Minute Gourmet: One-Pan Pasta


If you are looking for a quick and versatile recipe to add to your collection, look no further. This recipe for one-pan pasta is probably my #1 go-to when I need to make something impressive. It can easily be prepped, cooked, and cleaned in less than thirty minutes, making it a perfect recipe for nearly any occasion.


Even beyond the speediness, its taste alone will make it one to ad to your bookmarks bar. Cooking all the ingredients together allows the water to absorb all the flavors, which is then absorbed by the pasta. Instead of having a heavy sauce coating the pasta, the recipe relies on the natural flavors to give the pasta a much lighter and subtler taste.


Something else I love about this recipe is that it can stand alone or be a perfect side to nearly any main course. One of my favorite pairings for this recipe is a lightly seasoned salmon. Just a light brushing of butter, salt, and pepper draw out the natural flavors of the fish, much like this recipe does for the pasta, making it a perfect match. And the recipe is highly malleable. I have tried different ingredients and found that as long as the proportions are right, there are very few ingredients that would pair poorly with this pasta. I altered my personal recipe based on food sensitivities and other preferences, so it’s good to try many different variations to develop a personal recipe for your taste.


One final thing I have to compliment this recipe on is that cleanup takes less than five minutes. The cutting board and knife can be cleaned while the water is heating, leaving just the pan, tongs, a fork, and a plate or bowl (unless of course you are sharing the pasta). And because there is no sauce, there is hardly any mess to take care of. Really, it is so simple it can be done in a matter of seconds.



Now onto the actual recipe I have been raving about.


One-Pan Pasta (Adapted from Lottie + Doof  )


12 oz linguine

12 oz cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large

3 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms

1 small onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

7 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 sprigs of basil

3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

3 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon pepper

4 ½ cups of water


Combine all the ingredients in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs until water has nearly evaporated. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.





Winter Italian Recipe: Minestrone Soup

Winter is coming and we all need something hot and nice to warm us up. What is better than a Minestrone soup? It is a easy dish from Northern Italy, typical of winter season. You can put in it more or less what you want, from beans to zucchini, from lentils to potatoes. If you want to use dried beans or lentils, you just have to remember to leave them in a bowl with some water for at least two hours before beginning to prepare your soup.

Here is my soup. Begin with a soffritto: put onions on olive oil, and add celery and carrots.

SoffrittoSoffritto with carrots and celeryYou can add on it any vegetable you like: zucchini, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, peas.. etc.

Vegetable mix

At this point it is time to put the legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas, soya beans, what you want is fine! The more varieties of legumes, the better your minestrone will be! Just add them with at least two cups of water, and some salt.

You have to stir your soup once in a while and let the beans and lentils cook for at least half an hour. Then, depending on your taste, you can add more water to make it more “minestrone” or let all the water evaporate to make it more “soup”.

Minestrone styleSoup style

Your minestrone soup is ready. Enjoy the winter!

Italian Cuisine: Risotto with apples and speck ham

Risotto is a very common food in Italy, especially during the winter. Risotto is a different way of thinking the rice – rather than a side dish, it makes an amazing main course.

It is very important to find the right white rice to make risotto. The principal varieties are Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano. Once you have the rice, the limit is the sky! In fact, once you get the feel for the basic steps of making the risotto, you can add almost any combination of flavors.

Here I’ll present one of my favorite: risotto with apples and speck ham. It is made up of typical ingredients from north regions of Italy. Speck ham is a type of prosciutto which is similar to bacon, and it is a very tasty ham. This risotto has a very delicate and unusual flavor, where the sweet taste of apples is exalted by the strong taste of speck ham.

Here are the ingredients for 4 serves:

  • 2 cups of rice
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 apples
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup Parmesan
  • 4 oz speck ham
  • 2 cups white or red wine

Cut the speck ham in small pieces.

Speck ham

Cut the apples and put them into a pot with a cup of wine, and let them cook for about 15 minutes.

Continue reading Italian Cuisine: Risotto with apples and speck ham

Ascolane Stuffed Olives

After having talked about the quintessential Italian food, I feel ready to get personal, and to talk about a food which is typical of my city.

Piazza del Popolo - Ascoli Piceno
Piazza del Popolo – Ascoli Piceno from the website of Ascoli Piceno

I come from a small and nice city in the center of Italy, called Ascoli Piceno. It is a medieval city where it seems that time has stood still. Its People Square is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

The city is not well known even inside Italy, but its name sounds definitely familiar to all Italians because of the Ascolane Stuffed Olives (Olive all’Ascolana in Italian). They are a perfect appetizer food, and they are normally eaten as antipasto or side dish during important occasion, like Christmas or  Easter lunch.

The Ascolane Stuffed Olives are olives which are stuffed with three kinds of meat: chicken, beef and pork. They are breaded and then fried.

Ascolane Stuffed Olives
Ascolane Stuffed Olives – from Giallo Zafferano

This is how they look like. They are just amazing.

Unfortunately, they are not very easy to make, but not impossible as well. To explain you the recipe, I’ll introduce here a very special guest: my Grandma Anna. She has made Ascolane Stuffed Olives all her life long, and some years ago my sister and I decided to record this precious piece of information. Here you can see my Grandma Anna making stuffed olives, with translation in English:

This is a challenge for you: do you feel ready to try to be a real “Italian Grandma” in order to taste this amazing appetizer??

If you don’t feel ready yet, you can find a (kind of) stuffed olives at Eataly NYC, in 200 Fifth Avenue.Eataly Stuffed Olives

But my Grandma’s olives (and yours) will definitely taste better!

Buon appetito!

Cheap Eats NYC: How to keep your date (and wallet) happy

As learned from the women of Sex and the City, dating in New York City can be rough. It’s even rougher when you’re a college student, living on a college student budget. If your parents are anything like mine, they are reluctant to give you much “food money” because of the amount they’re already spending on your meal plan. With that being said, living in one of the most expensive cities in the country doesn’t help much either. No one wants to blow his or her entire weekly allowance on a first date. Unfortunately, this leaves little room for “wining and dining.”

Don’t worry, though, there is hope! Believe it or not, nice date spots that won’t break the bank exist. So, in an effort to ensure that you don’t disappoint your date and get to see them again, I’ve compiled a list of tasty (cheap!) spots.

CREAMLINE NYC in Chelsea Market


Chelsea Market is an experience in and of itself.  Inside its brick walls lie dozens of restaurants and shops. One of which, is the all-American restaurant, Creamline.  From peanut butter/jelly/banana sandwiches to grilled cheese fingers to fried oreos, Creamline NYC satisfies all of our childhood cravings.  Follow dinner with a walk on the High Line, which is right to the market. Trust me, you’ll need to walk off this meal.

P.S. DO NOT skip the malted milkshake. Worth every calorie.

Click for their menu. 

MIMI CHENG’S DUMPLINGS in the lower East


Treat yourself, and your date, to some mouthwatering dumplings at Mimi Cheng’s. My personal fave is the steamed ‘Reinvented Classic’ dumpling, made with pork and baby bok choy. The laid back environment is the perfect place to bring someone you’re just starting to get to know. For dessert, order the caramel apple pie dumplings- they are a must-have!!

Click for their menu. 

S’MAC in the East Village


S’Mac, aka Sarita’s Macaroni and Cheese, is basically every mac and cheese lover’s dream come true. They offer specialty mac and cheeses and made-to-order mac and cheeses. For me, the best option is the build your own mac and cheese. With 15 cheeses, 4 herbs, 12 veggies/condiments, and 6 proteins to choose from, there is something for everyone. It’ll be hard for your date not to be satisfied.  And, if you’re “of age,” follow dinner with drinks at one of the quirky bars that the East Village has to offer.

Click for their menu. 

Gaia Italian Cafe in the Lower East Side


As long as Gaia exists, there’s no need to spend $25 on a plate of pasta at some fancy Italian restaurant. This little hole in the wall serves up prime Italian food with rich flavors. My personal favorite is the spinach and ricotta gnocchi; it’s the perfect consistency! They also do daily pasta specials, which keeps things interesting (hopefully like your date).

Warning: they do close relatively early and fills up quickly, so plan ahead, and make a reservation!!

Click for their menu.

Happy eating, and happy dating!!

Trick to Making Great Italian Pizza

Italians take food very seriously. We don’t make jokes about food, we consider it almost a sacred subject. There are some things that you cannot say to an Italian without making him or her explaining how the risotto you have just eaten is not the real one and what the real lasagne should look like. That’s why when an American friend of mine told me that she once “made a pizza” by buying a Pita bread and putting cheese on it, I couldn’t accept the fact the she believed to have made a pizza. I knew I had to do something, and there was only one thing I had to do: to make a Pizza.

Pizza is the most famous Italian food in the world, so famous that it is not even necessarily associated with Italy anymore. But in Italy, it is crystal clear that pizza is our creation, and therefore we feel like the only ones to have the right to talk about it.

In Italy, young people usually go to a pizzeria to eat pizza once a week, as the most normal social event you can imagine. It’s cheap and good, so why not? But a lot of people are able to make their own pizza as well, especially when you realize how easy it is. So, are you ready?

The first thing to do is the pizza dough. Here is what you need:

Continue reading Trick to Making Great Italian Pizza

Del Posto NYC: Deliziosa e Ricca

Birthday brunches are always fun, and this past week I went to Del Posto in Chelsea, NYC, and had an amazing Italian dining experience. According to Opentable, “Del Posto is the first Italian restaurant in almost 40 years to be awarded 4 stars from the New York Times,” and it surely did meet that expectation of a highly rated Italian restaurant in NYC.

Del Posto’s brunch/lunch prix-fixe price is at $49 and consists of three courses with your choice of antipasto, secondo, and dolce. You can also get pasta for the entire table for $10 per person, though it is a bit annoying for experimental diners like me, who would like to have everyone order a different kind of pasta so that everyone could try, instead of having to choose one for all.

Enough complaining, the following photos show the artful plating that amounted to the incredibly savory experience. The names of the food are as follows (in order of appearance): Chef’s special appetizer assortment (changes daily I suppose), Antipastis-Lobster alla Cesare, Truffled Beef Carne Cruda, Primi-Pumpkin Capellacci, Secondi-Rare Atlantic Salmon, Dolcis-Chef’s Special (some form of toasted apple crumble with ice cream) and Fette Biscottate.








Of course, long live pizza, but once in a while, exploring other Italian food is never a bad idea. I would definitely recommend going for lunch rather than dinner if you just want the experience as their prix-fixe is much cheaper during lunch, though it is still pricey. For more detailed info for each food item, check my foodstagram ! or delposto.com/menu/

The Meatball Shop Review

After watching this Munchies clip that interviewed the two owners of The Meatball Shop in New York, I went all the way to their original location on the lower East Side the next day. And then two more times after that.


First thing that I have to say after visiting three times is: GET THEIR ORIGINAL BEEF MEATBALLS. They offer a variety of options you can mix and match, which could be confusing for the first time. For the meatballs, you can get beef, spicy pork, chicken, veggie (but if you’re a vegetarian, there are definitely better places to go), sometimes lamb depending on the day.


And you can get it with different kinds of pasta, mashed potatoes, daily risotto, or you can always stick to “Naked Balls” (four good old meatballs). Just to make the process of ordering meatballs even more complicated, you can also select sauce! Usually the waitress would recommend a certain sauce that goes with the kind of meatball you want. For first-timers, I would suggest sticking to the tomato sauce, with the beef meatballs. It’s also the lighter option. I also tried the mushroom sauce – it was creamy, but nothing impressive.


“The kitchen sink” is another option they offer. 3 balls + sauce + chef’s selection of daily greens. Apparently it’s what the owner of the shop eats, as pointed out in the video. So of course I had to try it despite its unappetizing name. (And it was good!)


What both my friend and I loved about the Meatball Shop is the homey feel of the dishes. If you order the “Naked Balls”, it comes in a small bowl with meatballs and sauce, and a piece of bread on top. If you order pasta or mashed potatoes along with your meatballs, you have the option to have the pasta under the meatballs. Putting everything into one bowl makes the experience of dining out very un-pretencious and homey.


The price is another thing that is worth pointing out. You can easily spend less than 15 dollars and get an extremely satisfying, protein-packed meal at the Meatball Shop. Despite the store’s popularity and its opening of a few other locations, the price remained the same.


The taste of the meatball was decent, but not as memorable as I hoped for it to be. Out of the three kinds I’ve tried – beef, spicy pork, and daily special “Shepherd’s pie” – I recommend the first two. While in general, the meatballs may not necessarily make you go “wow this is the best meatball I’ve ever tasted”, considering the low price and the hip and trendy ambiance of the place, going to the Meatball Shop with friends or a date will not disappoint. But be prepared for the waitresses to hint for you to leave, since the line of customers would already be forming outside.


Depending on the time that you go, it could be quite loud due to the large amount of customers in the store. For example, on a Friday night, one may find it hard to hear from across the table. Therefore, if one wants a more quiet tasting experience, going for lunch could be wiser. They also offer weekend brunch options.


"The Kitchen Sink"
“The Kitchen Sink”



Lower East Side Location

ADDRESS: 84 Stanton St, New York, NY 10002

PHONE: 212-982-8895

SUN – THURS: Noon to 2:00am

FRI – SAT: Noon to 4:00am

BRUNCH: Sat & Sun Noon to 4pm


Various other locations – please visit


Manzo in Eataly

No one usually looks to a marketplace for a great date night. There are too many people just standing around clogging the aisles with their hungry, indecisive bodies. There are too many kids running around screaming and begging for ice cream. But take a step into Eataly and you might see more than just a market.

Though there are many great restaurants in Eataly, I went to Manzo. Service was friendly and attentive. Waiters waltzed in between tables, ties dangling from their necks, and two men in suits strolled around, making sure everything was in order. The staff carried themselves with an air of professionalism, not often akin to marketplaces. After a while, I got the sense that the restaurant was not built in the market; rather the market was built around the restaurant.

I started my meal with a plate of carpaccio. The plate was covered entirely in thin circles of meat, striped here and there with tender, marbled fat. Peppered across the dish, shards of parmigiano reggiano provided a salty and nutty compliment to the meat. A clump of watercress rested in the center. The color and the taste of its citrus vinaigrette gave a pleasant contrast to the slices of meat. I meant to take a picture of the carpaccio, for it looked quite lovely. Yet, I already finished half the dish before I remembered to do so.

Next -and yes, I did get a picture of this one – I had a duck ragu with foie gras. The very essence of duck seemed to have soaked into the casarecce pasta. The dish was indescribably savory, rich, and hearty, but delicate as well. It was the type of dish you could picture both in the fanciest of restaurants and at a casual meal made by that great aunt from Sicily, who wanted to visit you while she was in New York even though you’ve really only seen her once or twice in your lifetime. Since I find myself grasping for words to describe this ragu, take a look at the picture and go to Manzo to get it for yourself.

Manzod Duck Ragu

At last, I got a wonderful lemon meringue, appropriately named Leggero. That’s Italian for “light.” Topping the meringue was a sweet blackberry swirl, a fresh blackberry, a tangy dab of lemon gelato, and a few sprigs of basil. Indeed it was a lemon meringue, but the basil made the dish. It added a certain complexity to the dish that forced you to keep eating in order to understand how it fit so well on top of a dessert. All in all, I found the meringue to be a delightful, palate-cleansing end to the meal. And just look at it. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

Manzo's Lemon Meringue

Manzo is a gem hidden in plain sight. Ignorant of the bustling shoppers all around, this restaurant provides a warm and friendly dining experience with tastes to satisfy most everyone…except vegetarians. Sorry, Manzo’s specialty is meat.


200 5th Ave

New York, NY 10010

Tel: 212.229.2180