As anyone who is familiar with Italian food culture knows, a meal without wine is only half of the experience. Most of these wines can be purchased via wine.com, the Vivino app, or by finding the closest retailer that stocks these in your area by using wine-searcher.com
I am obviously Italian-centric in my selections, as my pairing philosophy is: “If it grows together, it goes together.” But I have also thrown in some variations including a couple of spirits. I hope you enjoy my suggested pairings for my favorite foods at many of Little Italy's best shops.
Calandra’s Cheese Shop
Known to locals at as "the ricotta shop" Diego and his team know and love cheese and this is the best place on Arthur Avenue to sample cheese and find something new.
To pair with Diego's caciocavallo cheese try: White: Feudi Di San Gregorio Falanghina or Red: San Salvatore Porconero Aglianico
Our guests always end up buying a hunk of Prima Donna, a blend of parmigiano and gouda which never disappoints. White: Caggiano Bechar Fiano Di Avellino or Red: GD Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo
Finally, the Moliterno di Tartufo is a small splurge that is worth every penny. It's a pecorino cheese infused with black truffles. If things aren't too busy in the store, Diego will likely offer you a sample. Truffle lovers, prepare to swoon. The flavor is strong so a meal of this cheese, bread, a little arugula and these wines make for a wonderful dinner.
White: Abbazia di Novacella Praepositus Kerner or Red: Napolini “Napos” Montefalco Rosso.
Pair the sweet sopressata with Salvatore Molettieri Aglianico Taurasi Reserva. Danielle and I are personal friends of Signore Molettieri and absolutely adore this wine which comes from Southern Italy's Irpinia region in the mountains just east of Naples. Pair the spicy sopressata or their Calabrian pecorino cheese which is covered with dried chili flakes with Statti Batasarro Gaglioppo.
Peter and his team make a mouth watering porchetta sandwich. Pair it with Tenuta Monteti “Caburnio” Super Tuscan.
In addition to the fantastic loaves, olive and prosciutto breads, Madonia has a few house specialties which aren't particularly Italian. They don't always have them so scoop them up when you they're fresh from the oven.
On Saturday mornings you can usually get their Dark Chocolate and Cherry Bread. Pair it with Whistle Pig Rye Whiskey.
The White Chocolate Bread is always a favorite of our guests. It's great with your morning coffee or as a dessert when paired with Zardetto Prosecco Brut.
There's nothing else on Arthur Avenue quite like Madonia's Sausage and Cheese Bread. Bring it home, heat it up in the toaster oven and enjoy it with a glass of Tratturi Primitivo Salento.
Cosenza’s Fish Market
Among my favorite dishes is spaghetti alle vongole or spaghetti with clams. Most supermarkets don't stock the right clams, but you can reliably find them at Cosenza's. Pair it with La Scolca Gavi di Gavi.
A staple of old school Italian cuisine is baccalá, codfish preserved in salt. It takes days to soak and prepare, but it's a labor of love that is reliably found on the Italian Christmas Eve table for La Vigilia or Feast of the Seven Fishes. Pair it with:
White: Mastroberardino “Radici” Greco Di Tufo
Red: Nusserhof Lagrien Reserva Alto Adige
Rosé: Castell’in Villa Rosato
You can find almost anything inside Teitel Brothers which is why chefs love this store more than any other on Arthur Avenue. Because they are wholesalers, you can find spectacular deals here on otherwise pricey imported items. As a son of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, I insist on Rocca Parmigiano Reggiano which pairs beautifully with sparkling Ca Del Bosco Franciacorta. If I feel like having a red wine, I go with Produttori Del Barbaresco, Barbaresco.
Vincent’s Meat Market
Given that Vincent's used to be Oteri's Meat Market, my wife Danielle remains loyal to this very old and wonderful butcher shop. The classic film "Marty" was filmed here in 1954 back when her Uncle John was at the helm.
Among my favorite things on Arthur Avenue is the Italian bacon. Here are my pairings:
White: Ronchi Di Cialla Ribolla Gialla
Red: San Jacopo Chianti Classico
Spirits: Eagle Rare Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
Among the house specialities is the Broccoli Rabe Sausage. They go well with Valle Dell’Acate Frappato.
I always go crazy for the razor thin chicken cutlets and pair them with Inama Soave Classico vigneti di Foscarino. If you prefer, do veal cutlets with La Manella Rosso di Montalcino
Vincent's is my go-to place for custom cut steaks. Peter taught me to always buy New York Strips when cooking in the cast iron pan and to save the bone-in steaks for weekend bbqs. Either way, I pair my steaks with Mazzei “Philip” Cabernet Sauvignon
Rosa Paciullo makes the most delicious Sicilian style Arancini with Valle dell'Acate Tenuta Ibidini Nero d'Avola.
Joe's Italian Deli
While there are seven makers of fresh mozzarella in Little Italy, our favorite happens to be Joe's Italian Deli. Get some tomatoes, olive oil, a ball of their exquisite mozz and a bottle of Cantine San Marzano Tratturi Negroamaro Del Salento.
It seems like I can't say enough about the Pane di Ciccioli or "cheecola bread" at Addeo's. (It makes the world's best bacon, egg and cheese sandwich.) Pair it with Tomasso Bussola Ca’ Del Laito Ripasso.
The cheese ravioli here are simple, perfect and made with love. Pair them with organic San Salvatore Jungano Aglianico Paestum from the Cilento.
Carmela Lucciola religiously uses the cannoli recipe given to her by Don Pasquale Egidio, who opened the shop in 1916. Pair these legendary cannoli with Vietti Moscato D’asti Cascinetta or Nicosia Zibibbo Terre Siciliane Passito.