Little Italy in Manhattan has gone through a lot of changes over the years, namely losing precious real estate to the ever-encroaching Chinatown. One neighborhood institution we are hoping will never change is the specialty foods shop DiPalo’s on the corner of Grand and Mott Streets. DiPalo’s is one of those places you assume every Manhattanite knows about—but I find myself talking to a lot people who have never actually shopped there. Get over there people! This is the best Little Italy has to offer, since their doors opened for business in 1910.
Sampling the goods at DiPalo’s is an exercise in patience for most New Yorkers. Take a number at the door and be prepared to hang out for a while. The fine folks behind the counter love their products, and will spend as long as you’ve got chatting about the provolone, prosciutto or whatever it was you planned on buying that day. Cute little old ladies will walk right up to the counter to chat to Lou DiPalo, fourth-generation proprietor, about the latest news from the homeland. Surrender to the moment and you’ll find yourself dreaming of a caffè in the Piazza, with Giancarlo and his snazzy Vespa…
DiPalo’s specialty is cheese, with partially cut wheels overtaking every available surface. Glance up and you will find strings of mouth-watering sausages gently drying next to impressively large balls of waxed provolone. In the back, stringy curds are pulled into gorgeous mounds of milky-fresh mozzarella. They also make their own ricotta and marinara sauce, and offer the best Italian brands of olive oil, coffee, pasta and much more. Samples of cheese are willingly and generously distributed, so try before you buy. And trust their recommendations—these guys know their formaggio.
DiPalo’s is located at 200 Grand Street (at Mott Street), 212-226-1033.