Best vitello tonnato, best pizza slice & Brunello resource #NewYorkStories

Austinites! Please don’t miss my band’s first appearance in the River City, this Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Parish Underground, 9 p.m. sharp. Click this link for details. FREE SHOW!

best vitello tonnato

I’m still catching up on last week’s whirlwind NYC trip, which included some epic meals with my friend Tony, a visit to the city’s hottest new steakhouse, some memorable tastings, and assorted visits and glasses of wine.

I’ll be posting on all of it.

But today’s getting-down-to-business post is devoted to two of my NYC highlights, a visit to what is — in my mind — the most authentic Italian culinary experience in NYC, Sant’Ambroeus in the west village (above), and Mariella on 3rd and 16th (below), one of the last classic pseudo-Neapolitan pizzerias in the city where they still speak Italian.

Sant’Ambroeus may not have the flash or the sparkle of the city’s many innovative and creative Italian food celebrities. But it always delivers Italian classics exactly the way you’d get them in Italy — from the vitello tonnato (above, probably the best in the U.S.) to the espresso.

It’s expensive but consistently lands squarely on the mark. And you’re guaranteed a celebrity sighting. (Last time it was Ricky Martin and this time Matthew Broderick.)

Great place and also dear to me because of my association with Sant’Ambrogio (Sant’Ambroeus in Milanese dialect) in Milan, the model for Royce Hall at UCLA (my alma mater) and site dear to my beloved Petrarch.

best pizza slice new york

One of the things I never miss during my Big Apple sojourns is a visit to a classic pseudo-Neapolitan pizzeria, sadly a dying breed in Manhattan these days.

I managed to pop into what is probably my favorite, Mariella, downtown (it’s worth it to click through to the pizzeria’s website, if only for the landing page photo).

Italian is still spoken there and the slice is everything you want it to be — greasy, fatty, sweet, and satiating. Love this place.

It’s not related (at least as far as I know) to Mariella on Lexington uptown, another destination for an old-school slice, the way it used to be.

Do you remember a time when pizzerias in the city were named after their owners’ mothers? (Mariella is a diminutive of Maria.)

Mariella downtown was opened the same year that Ed Koch took office. And it sells beer by the bottle.

And in Brunello news…

alessandro bindocci brunello

Although the annual Benvenuto Brunello preview tasting of the 2008 Brunello took place in Houston and New York last week, the event’s U.S. organizers do not have a website devoted to it (wouldn’t it be cool if they could get it together to put a discoverable site on the web with information on the tasting like where and when?).

I was very geeked to see that my friend Alessandro Bindocci posted a link on his blog today that allows you to download the EXCELLENT Brunello presentation created by the Brunello bottlers association.

I believe that it’s the same document that scrolled on the screen at Kevin Zraly’s bizarre tasting, although he made no mention of it, nor did he refer to it.

I found it to be extremely useful.

Thank you, Ale!

Here’s the link…

Ok, stay tuned for more #NewYorkStories and please come to my band’s shows this Saturday in Austin, Thurs. Feb. 14 in LA, and Fri. Feb. 15 in SF.

3 thoughts on “Best vitello tonnato, best pizza slice & Brunello resource #NewYorkStories

  1. Jeremy,
    Next time you’re in NYC get in touch with Charles, Tom M and me. I think we can do much better than Mariella’s for you with more authentic Neapolitan pizza (unless you’re attached to that place, for old time’s sake).Meanwhile, thanks for the tip on Sant’Ambroeus. I’ll try it. I love a good vitello tonnato.

    • Ed, thanks so much for stopping by and the comments and insights. I agree 100% with your thoughts about the so-called “Best 50” list.

      I would love to get to see you and Mary the next time I’m in the city (late March). Let’s make that happen. Tracie P and little baby Georgia P will be with me.

      It’s always a thrill for me to get to taste with you.

      And yes, Mariella, one of those pseudo-Neapolitans, not the new generation of authentic pizzerias. I guess I love that style of pizza as much for the nostalgia as I do for the fact that when I first moved to NYC, I couldn’t afford an authentic Neapolitan pizza!

      Great to see you here… please give our best to Mary…

      • Jeremy, Before you come to NYC, just give us the days. I’ll get in touch with Charles and Tom Maresca and we;ll set up a pizzeria visit, probably at La Pizza Fresca. I’d love to meet Tracie and baby Georgia.

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