This post began when my girlfriend asked if I’d read Calvin Trillin’s recent article in the New Yorker, a stunning eulogy for Joe’s Dairy, a 60 year-old retail establishment on Sullivan Street in the South Village, and the author’s favorite place in all the world to buy fresh mozzarella. I had not read it, an error and oversight that I quickly corrected.
Trillin’s “Mozzarella Story” chronicles the loss of Joe’s Dairy and the demise of ten-stop shopping in the South Village, a neighborhood that, while still connected to its deep Italians living-and-working in the Village roots, is being encroached upon by the rising prices and vastly different aesthetics and preoccupations of neighboring SoHo.
Simultaneously, for reasons mostly having to do with convenience, ten-stop shopping is being replaced by one-stop shopping in neighborhoods throughout New York City. Here in Astoria, at least biannually, there is some online campaign aimed at wooing a Trader Joe’s or a Whole Foods to the neighborhood, illustrating the supremacy of one-stop shopping in the minds of so many.
The best description of ten-stop shopping is offered by Trillin himself, using his beloved South Village as an example:
“Sullivan Street itself had two Genovese butcher shops. Raffetto’s pasta store was nearby, on Houston. There were two Italian fishmongers on Bleeker. Our bread came from Zito’s, also on Bleeker. Around the corner from Zito’s, on Cornelia, was a bakery I thought of as my breadstick store; around another corner was a tiny bakery where I bought only prosciutto bread that was in the shape of a Vespa tire.”
Astoria is a neighborhood where it has been historically possible, even preferable, to be a ten-stop shopper. Below I have listed the stops on my own ten-stop shop ritual which I have carried out so many times since moving to the neighborhood. There are dozens and dozens of other exceptional places, of course, and I want you to let me know what your favorites are as well.
Let’s support local the mom and pop business as well as the style of consumption that Trillian privileges “not just for the quality of the goods but for the companionship and the ritual.”
These business owners are the folks who have rooted their lives and livelihoods in the neighborhood we love. They are the folks we say hello to and exchange warm greetings with as we go from shop to shop. Let’s carry on the tradition of ten-stop shopping in Astoria together, collectively savoring, supporting and celebrating this place we call home.
Elliniki Agora on 30th Avenue is my stop for fresh produce and herbs 24-hours a day. On the odd chance they don’t have what you need, pop next door to United Brothers to finish filling your produce basket.
International Meat Market also on 30th Avenue is my Butcher of choice, but the folks who live and work up and around the Ditmars area swear by Plaza Meat Market too (including Chef Michael Psilakis).
For virtually any cured or smoked meat you could dream of, Muncan Foods on Broadway is my stop (and don’t miss the pork rinds).
My savory Greek eats, including Greek Cheeses, olives, and olive oil are procured at Mediterranean Foods I & II, on on 34th Street and 31st Street respectively.
Sorriso Italian Pork Store on 30th Avenue is my go to place for Smoked Mozzarella and hard Italian cheeses. Rosario’s Deli on 31st Street near Ditmars is my regular mozz of choice. Dave and Tony’s Salumeria, also on 30th Avenue is where I get my sundried tomatoes.
Japanese groceries, including yakisoba for the cold weather months, and Green Tea Kit Kats when I am feeling snackish come from Family Market on Broadway.
My daily bread comes from Parisi Bakery on my corner of Broadway, but I’d be remiss in not mentioning the great Rose & Joe’s Bakery on 31st Street and Gian Piero Bakery on 30th Avenue.
For sweets, the homemade loukoumades at Cafe Boulis, Greek cookies at Yaya’s Bakery on 30th Avenue and Italian Pastries at La Guli on Ditmars are favorite stops.
My fresh pasta is procured at Astoria’s one and only Cassinelli Food Products on 23rd Avenue.
Last but not certainly not least, I’ll stop to pick up my beer at Triboro Beverage on Astoria Boulevard or Euro Market on 31st Street, both of which boast incredibly impressive selections.