The Upper West Side
Neighborhood resident Akhtar Nawab takes us to his favorite food haunts.
Mon Mar 15 2010
This celebrated gourmet food emporium is Nawab's one-stop shop. He pauses at a group of buckets brimming with olives, mushrooms and cured veggies. "Italian green olives, these are the best," he says. "I always have them in my fridge, for eating or to toss with pasta." 2127 Broadway between 74th and 75th Sts (212-595-1888)
Top-notch prosciutto crudo and cotto (cured and cooked ham, respectively) lure Nawab to chef Cesare Casella's Italian specialty-foods shop and restaurant. He and Ela, his three-year-old daughter, often stay for a quick small-plates snack. "He has a great caponata with a little celery crunch," Nawab says. "And I love the Tuscan tripe with Parmigiano." 283 Amsterdam Ave between 73rd and 74th Sts (212-877-4800)
"If my daughter won't eat anything, we'll come here," says Nawab of the New York hot-dog institution. He takes his wiener with sauerkraut and mustard, whereas Ela prefers hers with ketchup. "I like hot dogs more than hamburgers," he says. "They're less of a commitment." 2090 Broadway at 72nd St (212-799-0243)
Land Thai Kitchen
"The beef salad is probably my favorite dish here," says Nawab of this tiny Amsterdam Avenue standby. "It's spicy as shit and really refreshing." 450 Amsterdam Ave between 81st and 82nd Sts (212-501-8121)
Nawab describes this lovably gruff appetizing shop as having a "New York sensibility—it's like, 'Eat, and get out.' " He rattles off the many things he loves: salmon pastrami, gravlax, whitefish, herring. "The sable is by farmy favorite; I always get it with eggs."541 AmsterdamAve between 86thand 87th Sts(212-724-4707)
It may be best known for its burgers, but Nawab favors Shake Shack for grabbing dessert with his daughter. Ela's partial to the hot fudge sundae and concretes. Nawab scans the frozen custard calendar and takes note of an intriguing flavor: chocolate--peanut-butter--pretzel. "I think I'm in trouble when that one starts." 366 Columbus Ave at 77th St (646-747-8770)
We follow Nawab down a flight of steps into this bakery, swirling with the scent of freshly forged loaves, a place he frequently visits with Ela. "She loves the cookies, but I usually get her brioche with cinnamon sugar or a blueberry muffin." Today, though, he takes a less breakfasty route, tearing hunks off a raisin--whole-wheat--walnut roll. "It's really dense and tender," he says between bites. 167 W 74th St between Columbus and Amsterdam Aves (212-874-6080)
West Side Cheese Co.
Stopping at the store where owner Maya Schaper sells her curious combination of cheese and antiques, Nawab expresses his respect for her selection. "[She has] some very obscure cheeses from small farms," he explains. In the past, he's been impressed with the Mimolette, which he describes as yellow and Gouda-like with satisfying "crunchy deposits." 228 Columbus Ave between 70th and 71st Sts (212-877-0177)