Last weekend, MDP and I went on a food tour of Nolita and Noho courtesy of MDP’s kind cousin Jan. The tour was extraordinary! We sampled Brooklyn blackout cupcakes and homemade ricotta on multigrain toast among other delightful treats on our three-hour culinary journey.
One of the stops was Emporio, where we tried a beautiful slice of prosciutto and arugola Roman-style pizza. As I munched on the gigantic slice, extra virgin olive oil streamed down my sleeve–a delectable treat for later. I knew we would make our way back to Emporio some day. Who knew it would be a mere six days later?
Emporio is tucked away on Mott Street, down below Prince where high-end boutiques are the neighborhood norm. Emporio is nothing like it’s neighborhood would suggest, though. It isn’t boastful or cold, no. It exudes a warm, serene ambiance and a no-nonsense Italian menu that lingers on the palate for many delightful moments after the completion of the meal.
We ordered the kale salad for an appetizer, though we eyed the Fritto Misto and the burrata. Considering we were planning to have the prosciutto and arugola pizza, which is made with mozzarella, we decided against the burrata–though, it was, I must admit, a painful choice. The scrumptious kale salad was accompanied by delectable roasted squash and bits of pomegranate strewn throughout, and topped with rich slices of grana padano. It was a light, excellent way to begin our meal at Emporio.
For the main course, we split a special pasta course called I Casarecci made with eggplant, tomato and whole wheat, homemade pasta, and the prosciutto and arugola pizza. The pasta was divine! I highly recommend Emporio’s pasta, by way of the recommendation of our fantastic tour guide from last week. She raved about the homemade delicacies coming out of their pasta maker, and I second her support. The pizza was just incredible. Made with a not-quite-Neopolitan thin crust, the prosciutto and arugola pizza is a white pie (no sauce) cooked in a wood-fire oven where the convection of the heat is so strong, the pizza takes just four minutes to bake. Once the pizza is out of the oven, it is topped with handfuls of arugola, slices of prosciutto, cherry tomatoes and slices of grana padano. The result is one of the best pizzas I’ve had. Ever. I highly recommend Emporio’s pizza.
Instead of trying Emporio’s desserts (the Nutella calzone is the option to get for dessert, by the way), we went up to the newly minted Cake Boss Cafe up on 42nd and 8th, in the north wing of the inimitable Port Authority Bus Terminal. Cake Boss Cafe takes up a large chunk of the corner, and rightfully so. With good lighting and ample seating, it’s easy to make yourself at home at this Buddy Valastro establishment. Unlike Carlo’s Bakery, the line isn’t too overwhelming at Cake Boss Cafe. They have their signature cake in the form of beautifully decorated cupcakes, alongside cannolis, lobster tails, Napoleons, and other Italian treats (such as pignoli cookies which are, by far, my favorite cookies).
We ordered a lobster tail and an orange flower-topped cupcake. The lobster tail was divine! Think: a thick, crusty, flaky croissant filled with silky cream in the shape of a lobster tail. And the cupcake wasn’t bad either, although the sweet, soft bakery cake reminded me of Entenmann’s.
I’d recommend Cake Boss Cafe, especially if you’re getting on a bus to New Jersey (or somewhere else). But I can see it becoming a tourist trap, much like the sorry Five Guys outpost located on 42nd next to Chevy’s. What were they thinking?
Do try Emporio, at the very least!
231 Mott Street
Nolita, New York
Take the N/R to Prince Street and walk east a few blocks.
Cake Boss Cafe
Corner of 42nd Street and 8th Avenue
Times Square, New York
Take the A/C/E to 42nd Street and exit near 8th Avenue.