I was heading home tonight when I came across it. A freakin hole in the wall just off the corner of 6th ave and 14th st. I have seen it before, and I have wondered, but here I was, with a slight appetite, and this was a place that served meatballs.
That’s it..meatballs. I walk up to the counter and notice that behind which couldn’t have been bigger than four square feet. Two kids behind the counter with a couple of La Creuset pots filled full of meatballs and red sauce. I ordered a meatball, just one..in a cup, which came with cibatta bread and topped off with a cheese of your choice. They had Locatelli pecorino romano cheese, which is what I use religiously.
In fact if ever I am in the house of an Italian who is a native New Yorker and they offer me food, like cheese, it’s not uncommon for someone to say “I got Locatelli”, like that’s it, it seals the deal. Not only did this place have Locatelli, for drinks they had Manhattan Specials, and not just the coffee or Gasosa, they had every damn flavor Manhattan Special produced.
Manhattan Specials are made in Italian/East Williamsburg of Brooklyn, by the same family for over a hundred years already. They are mostly known for their coffee soda, but they have branched out to a number of other flavors. Manhattan Special aren’t just awesome cause they are local, they use only pure cane sugar, no corn syrup, and it’s served in a glass bottle. I know I harp on about this, but if you’re gonna carbonate, carbonate right.
So lets break this down, they only serve meatballs, with every flavor of Manhattan specials known to man…AND they have Locatelli cheese… Whoever owns this place has got to be not only be Italian, but a native. It is just a walk up window but there is a little counter to the side you can eat at or folding chairs located over the subway vents on the sidewalk.
Call me crazy, but I smelled a theme tonight. I wanted food of a spherical form, and this town could easily accommodate that. So I hopped on the F-train and took it one stop north to 23rd sheet, and headed to the Chelsea hotel where Donut Plant had a store front.
You know right across the street used to be the only Krispy Kreme in the five boroughs you could get em fresh. I remember being bummed when they closed it down, but now that Donut Plant is here, fuck Krispy Kreme. I ran in and got the donut god’s gift to me… a creme brûlée donut.
Oh yea, god-head on a napkin… It’s a little bigger than a golf ball, filled with french cream and somehow they got the top to be all nice and crispy. All ingredients are all natural, everything is made on site, even the jam, and it’s all made fresh daily. No eggs, no preservatives, no fucking bullshit cheap ingredients. I mean I love the Grand Mission in San Francisco, those Buttermilk Bars are the shit. But Donut Plant is on a whole other level.
They have two types of donuts, yeast or cake. Yeast are fluffy and airy but still rich. Examples being Coconut Cream, or Peanut Butter Jelly, The cake donuts are denser, almost like a really moist pound cake, and richer with flavors like Carrot Cake or Devils Food.
PROCEED WITH CAUTION. This spot is dangerous, and quite honestly I will just order two maybe three donuts, take one or two bites of each, hand them off to anyone I can and then just take off running as fast as I can, to get away. If I hang out too long… that’t it, game over for skinny J, hello fat fuck.
So then I decided to head back to Brooklyn and I still was hungry, all I had was one meatball and one creme brulee ball. I knew exactly where to go. Down the street from my house was the Arancini brothers. This spot was down on Flushing and Central, pretty much built into the Wreck Room. All they served was Rice Balls (and Manhattan Specials). Arancini translates to little oranges, which is how they look when you pull them from the fryer, but this isn’t fruit. This is a Sicilian specialty which is a ball of rice stuffed with what-have-you. A traditional rice ball is a ragu, meat sauce with peas. But here they have over 10 types. Carbonara with cream and pancetta, fennel sausage and broccoli rabe, three cheese, they even had a Nutella one for dessert.
I had a baller card, that they stamp every time you buy one. You buy ten you get one free. So I decided to use it. I got a ragu and a special one they had made that day called a The Yankee. It had baked beans, hot dog and cheddar cheese. Kinda wrong in my book, but also in a grey area where a wrong can be right.