Rize Coffee [CLOSED]

122 East 42nd Street  New York, NY 

A pleasant surprise a few steps from Grand Central, where this nice cafe went unnoticed for several months. Today there are no smartphone distractions or hurried rushes to the subway. Today the eye is captured by a blackboard with the special coffee of the day, from Ethiopia.

The additional 50 cents for this special blend buy a ticket for a 5-minute trip to Africa. Exquisite flavors of chocolate and spices propagate from the red cup where the single shot is dense and short as good espresso should be.

Empanadas @ Empanadas Bar NYC [CLOSED]

438 East 9th Street, New York, NY

The “foodiversification” of the East Village further grew thanks to the recent opening of Empanadas Bar NYC. This tiny piece of Argentina offers many delicious types of empanadas, tartas and sandwiches.

The empanadas Cordobesa (sweet beef) and Carne Picante (spicy beef) are a must. Despite their names, these empanadas are not only about tasty and lean meat. Peppers, onions and boiled eggs enrich the filling; the dough has a balanced thickness: it carries the precious content without weakening its flavor.

If you are in a group, you can share different empanadas: the exotic “pollo picante”, the sincere “cebolla y queso” and the vegetarian “espinaca”. They all look similar but you will not confound them: each type of empanada can be identified through tiny letters embossed on one of its corners.

Leave some room for a bite of the sweet empanada: dulce de leche is always a good way to close a meal.

Pizza @ Pizza Roma [CLOSED]

259 Bleecker Street, New York, NY

Pizza by the slice did not benefit significantly from the pizza renaissance that took place in New York. The triangle-shaped thick slices are still dominant while the rectangular shaped slices – typical of the Italian tradition – are a rare find.

Pizza Roma is one of the few places where the slices are rectangular and the crust is true pizza rather than a bagel-bread hybrid.

The pizzaiolo makes pizzas with many different toppings: a true symphony of flavors where I recently enjoyed a memorable “crescendo”.

Start “adagio” with pizza bianca: a classic that will let you appreciate the quality of the dough. Accelerate to “andante” with the mosaic of zucchini and the hidden layer of melted cheese. When the margherita comes, it is time for an “allegro” of mozzarella and tomato sauce. And finally the “vivace” flavor of the porcini pizza, where the mushrooms are true porcini with their unmistakeable fatty texture and fully developed flavor. “Bravo, maestro!”.

Focaccia @ Il Cantuccio [CLOSED]

91 Cristopher Street, New York, NY

This white focaccia speaks for itself. I fell almost useless in describing the thick and delicate slice, and the delicious olive oil that covers its crunchy surface. You just have to try it.

I would rather spend some time describing the cozy West Village location. A true bakery, with a courteous service, where they usually offer some of their focaccia and biscotti for tasting. Focaccia is my favorite order here, but you should also try the “cantucci”. These pastries, typical of Tuscany, give the name to the bakery and are prepared daily, with different ingredients, including figs, apricots, chocolate. I find difficult to resist focaccia and cantucci: usually I have to taste them immediately. If you share this compelling need, Il Cantuccio’s backyard offers two tables where you can sit down, relax and escape from the hectic pace of the city.