New York postcard: Di Palo's in Little Italy and now online
Whenever I’m in New York City — and downtown — my feet seem to head all by themselves to Grand Street and Di Palo's, the 87-year-old Italian deli (newly organized and expanded) where I stock up on Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano and bottarga from Sardinia.
Usually one of the family is behind the counter, either one or both brothers Lou and Salvatore, their sister Mariem, or Lou’s son Sam, now the fifth generation of the Italian family that immigrated from Basilicata in 1903.
Buying cheese is a ritual here: You taste, you compare Parmigiano Reggiano of different ages and seasons. I bought the superb spring Parmigiano — far too little of it, I realized when I got home. I keep breaking off little chunks of it to have with a glass of wine just before dinner.
When I stopped by in early May the pecorino Romano was exceptional, milky and salty-sweet with just that edge of sharpness which makes the sheep’s milk cheese so distinctive. I bought a big piece. And then I bought another for a gift.
How can I not see spaghetti cacio e pepe ("cheese and pepper") in my future? I’m a purist, though. No butter: just finely grated Pecorino and lots of cracked black pepper. See how to make it on the link below.
The big news, handed over casually as I was gathering up my package, is that DiPalo is now online at www.dipaloselects.com, which means I don't have to wait for my next trip to New York to buy more Pecorino Romano. It's listed at $12.99 a pound and I’ll have to pay for shipping. But still, that's about the cost of one plate of pasta in a restaurant.
Di Palo's Fine Foods, 200 Grand Street (at Mott Street), New York, N.Y. (877) 253-1779; www.dipaloselects.com
-- S. Irene Virbila