Little Italy exists today as a vestigial holdover from its vibrant past. But what’s still there is still wonderful, nothing more so than this terrific market. Founded in 1910, Di Palo’s features food products from every part of Italy as well as artisanally crafted local items. The array of cured meats, cheeses, breads, olives, olive oils, pastas and pastries can be overwhelming, but many are offered as samples.
200 Grand Street. Tel. (212) 226-1033
Julian Baczynsky opened his Ukrainian butcher shop in 1970, facing competition just around the corner on First Avenue from the renowned Kurowycky, also a Ukrainian butcher celebrated for its smoked pork (Martha Stewart bought her hams there). But Kurowycky’s closed in 2007. Thankfully Baczynsky’s East Village Meat Market is still in business. The hams, prepared and smoked in-house every day, are peerless; the sausages, in all sizes and shapes, delicious. You will also find sliced meats and a selection of condiments and food products from Ukraine, with fresh locally baked breads also for sale.
East Village Meat Market
139 Second Avenue
New York City has the largest Chinese population outside of Asia, so while Little Italy has shrunk, the immediately adjacent Chinatown has continued to grow. This makes for excellent shopping, and Hong Kong Supermarket is a favorite of many. Wide aisles and rows of shelves are chockablock with a full range of Asian staples: noodles, sauces of every variety, dumpling wrappers, fresh fruits and vegetables and prepared foods.
157 Hester Street
If I could point you to only one ethnic market in New York, this would be it. I am constantly surprised by how under the radar it is: Even ardent cooks I know are unfamiliar with Kalustyan’s. The store has been in the Kips Bay neighborhood since 1944, a two-story trove of herbs, spices and other ingredients that lean Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian. If you are looking for beans, lentils, chilies, peppers, fish paste, salts, rices, chutneys, curries, herbs, breads, teas or coffees, you will not be disappointed.
123 Lexington Avenue
This market is a must for those who want to try their hand at making Japanese cuisine at home. Dating to 1907, Katagiri was a pioneer in bringing what were then the exotic foodstuffs of a faraway culture to New York. Shop the aisles for soba, ramen and udon noodles; tofu and the lesser-known natto, made of fermented soybeans; all manner of rices and hard-to-find seasonings, as well as some surprising confections. It also has a very fresh sushi bar and other hot foods.
224 E. 59th Street
Separated only by “the pond,” New York and Britain have particularly close ties, with a large number of British ex-pats living here as well as innumerable descendants of those who settled earlier and hanker for a taste of home. They’ll find it at this cozy shop in the West Village. Myers stocks British-made teas, jams, marmalades, canned soups, chocolate, biscuits (I’m too fond of Hobnobs, a dense, flavorful oatmeal cookie) and favorite condiments (this where I get my Branston pickle). There is also a wide assortment of fresh-made favorites like beef-and-kidney pie, pork pie, chicken-and-leek pie (all of which are excellent), back bacon, black and white pudding and sausages for those looking to make a full English breakfast.
Myers of Keswick
634 Hudson Street
New York has a huge Jewish population, a legacy that has created excellent sources for such delicacies as smoked fish, pickled herring, caviar and bagels. Since 1914, this Lower East Side institution has remained in its original spot as the neighborhood around it, once home to Jewish immigrants, has thrived, declined and is now thriving again. Small but packed with a surprising array of alluring comestibles, Russ & Daughters’ refrigerated cases tempt with smoked salmon in all its iterations, from Canadian Gaspé Nova to Irish organic. Belying my roots, I opt for the Scottish, rich and flavorful thanks to smoking over cherry- and applewoods. Before I make it out the door, I invariably pick up some of the scallion cream cheese and a bag of the excellent bagels. If you want sit-down service, make your way to Russ & Daughters Cafe (opened in 2014) around the corner on Orchard Street.
Russ & Daughters
179 E. Houston Street