Used to be a ‘new’ Jersey Girl   : now A Colorado Girl

Friday, July 30, 2010

Greenwich Village Food Tasting Tour

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Ever since fellow blogger, Lettuce Eating, visited New York City (she lives in London) and told me how she went on this food tour, I’ve been longing to do it. What better excuse to finally just “do it” than hosting a visitor over the weekend last week? Anne-Lise (the daughter of our dear friends in France) took a few days out from her busy college schedule in Quebec to come and stay with us. Since we had not seen her since she was 8 years old it was nice to “meet” the wonderful grown woman she has become at age 22! Where did the years go?

We drove in to the city and left early in case the traffic was all snarled up, which if course it wasn’t and we arrived at the closest parking garage to our meeting point in the Village in just over one hour. Amazing! It still seems unreal to me that we live that close to NYC and that Rick is brave enough to drive in Manhattan!

We met in front of Murray’s Cheese.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Here is the only photo I took while inside. It was really crowded, so kind of hard to get photos of all the luscious cheeses and other cool things they had to offer. You can buy these “gift” boxes!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Our first tasting stop was Joe’s Pizza. Did you happen to notice that pizza pie at the beginning of the post? Hmm ... how could you not? I hope it made you hungry because it was certainly delicious! I thought we would each get just a bite of pizza, but we had one whole slice to ourselves. Our guide, Barri, gave us the background history on Joe’s and how they make their sauce. No big list of topping ingredients here. Just your basic tomato sauce and cheese on top of a wonderfully thin crust. Photos of a younger Joe posing with famous people covered the walls. As we left the store we actually got to see “Joe” standing outside talking to someone. Hey, a “celebrity” sighting!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Next we sampled rice balls (or arancini) from Faicco’s Italian Specialty Food Shop (Previously Faicco’s Pork Store) which is right next door to Murray’s Cheese. That’s our guide passing them out. We ate on the street because the shop is just too small to fit us all in at the same time.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Even though they took the pork out of the name, the pig remains on the sign. *oink, oink*

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Just look at this line up of wonderful food shops: Amy’s Bread, The Lobster Place (we just peeked in here—so much wonderful looking fresh fish!), Murray’s Cheese Shop and Faicco’s all in a row! Bread, fish, cheese and pork. The only thing missing is a butcher shop for beef.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Our guide told us a lot about the the area and different buildings. I even learned something new about how to tell how old a brick house was by they way the bricks are laid. She pointed out places along the way where a film or television series had been shot. We saw the outside of the house where contestants from the Next Network Food Star were housed a few years ago, the church garden where most of the garden scenes from the movie Doubt were filmed, and the outside of the building that was supposed to be where they lived on Friends. I never watched the show so I didn’t have a clue.

It’s quiet and lovely and at times hard to believe you are still in the city. And, from what we understand, extremely pricey to live here now. No more starving poets and artists. You pretty much have to have “made it” to live in the Village today.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

After the rice balls we headed to Home (American Gourmet Comfort food). In this tiny little restaurant we got to sit down and eat in their little courtyard garden in back. By this time it had started to drizzle so the chef rolled out the awnings for us.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Our tasting here was none other than comfort food at its best: Mac & Cheese. This was not your average Mac & Cheese though ... yum. Go ahead, take a bite. You know you want to.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

We visited the Cornelia Street Café which has club space downstairs in the basement for aspiring poets, musicians, and storytellers. It’s like a cave down there and very reminiscent of the old beatnik days. The stage is tiny. Our guide told us that Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick had their first date here. You can tell how narrow it is by looking at us all standing around. When we resurfaced, it was pouring rain! oh dear. Some people came prepared but others did not.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Our guide herded us back over to Faicco’s to the shelter of their large awnings as the rain continued to pour from the sky. While she went in search of some rain ponchos for those that were not prepared for the rain, we all got a chance to go inside the “pork store.” Those are huge “logs” of provolone cheese hanging from the ceiling!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Our next stop was another sit-down tasting which got us out of the rain. By this time I was so full I could barely put another bite of anything into my mouth. They say that the tasting tour is “enough for people to eat so lunch is not usually necessary afterwards.” Hah! That’s a slight understatement. Soy and Sake (Asian inspired Vegetarian Restaurant) was something completely different. We were presented with a beautiful little Bento box full of goodies: BBQ pork (really tofu but tasted a lot like the real thing), fried rice, a dumpling and some delicious fried seaweed.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

The other nice thing was the chance to order a glass of wine or sake if we wanted to. (Cost not included in the tour price.) Rick was intrigued by something on the menu called Sake2me described as a “sparkling drink infused with all-natural Asian flavors.” He chose the pear flavor. Stupid me, since I don’t really care for sake I didn’t order one but had white wine instead. His Sake2me was absolutely delicious: light and so refreshing! My wine paled in comparison. I’ve since tried to find it around here but right now it looks like no one is carrying it. I highly recommend trying to find it! Where are Rowan & Martin when you need them?

Back out on the sidewalk again it had (thankfully) mostly stopped raining. Well, at least it wasn’t pouring. The dessert course was up next at Milk & Cookies where we ate huge still-warm-from-the-oven oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I ate half of mine and saved the rest for later.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

But wait! We aren’t done yet! We still have the cheese and olive platter over at Murray’s Cheese Shop and last but not least, cannolis at Rocco’s Pastry Shop which have been voted the best cannolis in NY! Rocco’s is only a few doors down from Murray’s, Amy’s etc., and across the street. Good thing I don’t live in this neighborhood.

Whew! Are you full yet? Did you have enough to eat our would you like some lunch now?

Which one was my favorite you might ask? Well…a close tie between the pizza and mac & cheese. Least fav were the rice balls I think. They were good, but heavy.

Now that we’ve been on this tour there are so many restaurants we passed by and heard about that I want to go back to. Like Fish where for $8.00 you can get a half dozen oysters on the half shell with a glass of beer or wine. Uhm ... do I need to point this out — bargain!! And, I am certain that is exactly what they hope the people on the tour will do: come back and patronize their establishments. Works for me!

I’ll leave you with a somewhat hazy view of Manhattan taken from the Jersey side of the Hudson from Weehawken just as we got out of the Lincoln Tunnel. (Jersey really does have the best view of Manhattan—forget the Empire State Building!)

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

There are a few other food tours that we’d now like to take after having been on this one. The one to Chelsea Market and the one in Chinatown sound the best. It was so interesting to taste the food and get a lesson on history and architecture all at the same time. I highly recommend the experience next time you happen to visit the Big Apple!

Here is the link to the tour we went on. Other tours are listed on the page as well.

P.S. Be sure to click on all the provided links to visit each restaurant’s/shop’s web site. If there is no link there isn’t a web site!
P.P.S. If you have no clue what I am talking about in my reference to Rowan & Martin you are probably too young to be reading this blog.


YUMMY YUMMY…...1 week until I’m back east and I can’t wait for some delicious pizza. 
What a cool food tour.  I’m bookmarking this post as I reminder, I’d love to do this on one of my trips back east!

Katie, you won’t be disappointed if you happen to do it! Where will you be when you’re back east?

Looks wonderful.  I’m a simple guy . . . that macaroni looks delicious.

Hey. Jack’s back!

I happened upon your blog after seeing a comment you left about your food tour on another blog.  I live in NYC so I was curious to see what you wrote.  I don’t go on those tours, but it looks like you really hit some great spots.  Joe’s Pizza has the best slice in the city, hands down.  Great post!

I’ll be back in my hometown of Yardville, outside of Trenton.  And then hopefully we will be down the shore a few days as well!

We were just recently in the village as well….. we did a scavenger hunt - LOTS of fun!

We all vowed we’d come back another day to just tour around the village at our own pace…. maybe we’ll do our own tasting tour using your list as a guide!


There is also a tour in the village where you get to play spy ... a scavenger hunt sounds like lots of fun. I assume it was not a tour kind of thing?

Yes, we will definitely go back and take our time. Feel free to use my list!

No… not a tour, but you definatly learn ALOT about the area, hence our desire to go back.  We thought it was a wonderful way to make money for the originators of the idea.

We learned a lot too, although now you know exactly where to hide or find things ...

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