food 03.10.03

Di Palo Fine Foods

What: Di Palo Fine Foods, 206 Grand [Mott] 212.226.1033.

What's new: After 77 years, the much-loved Italian specialties purveyor has moved its business across Mott Street to a larger, more attractive space. The shop now prides itself on selling foods from all areas of Italy, including oils from Tuscany to Sicily, honey, chocolates, artisanal pastas, preserves, and cured meats.

Did they ruin it?: Not at all. They've managed to preserve the friendly, intimate character of the shop.

Who are 'they'?: Louis Di Palo runs the five-generation store with his sister, Marie, and brother Sal.

What's old: The pressed-tin ceiling is the same pattern as in the old place, but this one gleams. Prosciutti, provolone cheeses and garlands of dried peppers still hang above the counter.

And about that counter: The Di Palos kept the feature of the original store that was dearest to their hearts - the low marble counter over which you discuss your purchases. Louis says, "It's like a table where we share our food and knowledge with you."

Cheese?: Of course. Fresh mozzarella is made daily, as is ricotta. Over the course of a year about 200 different kinds of pecorinos, several Parmigianos and many other Italian cheeses cheeses show up, reflecting seasonal variation and holiday specialties.

Is Mama still there?: Mama Di Palo comes in on Saturdays.
The city's name-brand chefs have been busy lately. Here's what they've been up to (some of these eateries are not yet open and don't have phone numbers)…Jimmy Bradley (The Harrison, Red Cat) is opening the Mermaid Inn, 96 2nd Ave. [5th/6th]…Wylie Dufresne (71 Clinton) moves down the block to WD-50, 50 Clinton [Stanton/Rivington]…Peripatetic Gary Robins, who first made a name for himself at Aja, returns with Pacific West, 290 8th [24th/25th]…Rocco DiSpirito [Union Pacific] has transformed Tuscan Steak into just-plain Tuscan, 622 3rd Ave. [40th] 212.404.1700…Douglas Rodriguez (Pipa, Chicama) will open Ola at 304 E. 48th [2nd]…And what may be the toughest reservation in town: Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Chinese foray called 66, 241 Church [Leonard] 212.925.0202.

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