My old pal Dante Mercadante (YES THAT IS HIS REAL NAME!!) and I go back years to where we met in acting class. This guy has charisma, and he followed his passion for great food and love of NYC to create his own food tour, “Nice Guy Tours.”
I joined the Greenwich Village tour, where I learned about the local landmarks, munched on A LOT of NYC classics, and had so many laughs I’m pretty sure I burned off all the calories I’d happily ingested anyway. Here are the places we stopped for a bite!
1. Mamoun's Falafel
Mamoun's is the oldest falafel joint in all of NYC serving hungry New Yorkers since 1971. They had some of the best falafel I've ever tried. Perfectly crunchy, and though it's fried, it is not at all greasy. (They change the oil everyday). My favorite part was the gorgeous vibrant green on the inside!
Dante orders a classic NYC everything bagel made fresh on location, boiled and rolled (top and bottom!) in the traditional salt, garlic, sesame and poppy seed topping. With a shmear of cream cheese of course.
Artichoke opened on 14th street in 2008 and has since opened ELEVEN other locations! That success speaks for itself. Their special Artichoke slice is what I can only describe as warm cheesy artichoke dip atop a perfectly crunchy crust. Although the topping is rich and creamy, the slice does not get soggy. These guys know what they are doing and let me tell you, it is WELL worth the calories!
What takes these authentic Belgian fries next level are two things:
1.They are fried twice making them crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
2. You have a choice of 30 different dipping sauces!!!!
Dante gets their best sellers to sample with your frites (sweet mango chutney and Vietnamese pineapple) and a bunch more.
You can also sample as many as you want! Is this real life?!?!
Gooey arancini? Check. A slice of fresh sopressata while you're waiting? Check. Indulge in this lovely rice ball and take in the intoxicating smells of homemade sausages, olive oils and cheeses.
Now I am a born and raised Bronx girl who is very loyal to her local Pizzerias. I get very protective of my borough when it comes to comparing slices throughout New York. But I have to say, Bleecker Street's "Nonna Maria's" slice is literally something to write home about. It comes from a family recipe of grandma's sweet sauce, basil, oregano and fresh mozzerella. The crust is dusted with semolina to give it that perfect crunch. It's crispy, gooey and was definitely my favorite part of the tour. It was voted best pizza in NYC by the Food Network 3 years in a row. How could I have missed this all my life?
This bakery was an improvised last stop and I'm not complaining. It's been run by Rocco and his family since 1974 serving up Rocco's world famous cannoli filled fresh on the spot. The only question is, pistachio cream or chocolate chip?