My third day in NY was the first day I actually spent the day in New York City, so if the first two posts were boring, the following posts should be more interesting.
I visited ‘ino, a cute little café that specializes in paninos, for a late brunch. The walk to ‘ino from the nearest metro station leads you through small alleyways between three story buildings, giving you the feel of a small-town New York.The tiny café confirms such feelings because its dining spaces are cramped. Tables are lined up next to each other so that you could easily join in on a stranger’s conversation. The bar is less than a foot away from the row of tables reserved for eating, and the bathroom feels like the entrance to a gnome’s tunnel. Even Bedford Street, the street ‘ino is located on, emanates an atmosphere of confining seclusion. However, the attributes that make ‘ino seem like an isolated island in the island that is New York give the café its emotional appeal. ‘ino will find its way into a tight, comfy spot in everyones’ New York memories.
The waiters are representative of what a small restaurant’s employees should be, knowledgeable and friendly. Because the café is so small, the staff appears to have a passion for the experience the café provides. When I asked to order a half panini and half salad combo, my waiter kindly informed me that the salad I order does not have to be the generic kind—although, even the “generic” salad seemed quite fancy.
I ended up with the rucola salad with grana and red onion. I figured that if I didn’t know some of the ingredients—rucola and grana—the salad would be exotic enough to write about. It turns out, rucola is a type of plant with soft leaves, and grana is a type of coarse, granular cheese. The salad was very delicate, having a membrane-thin layer of olive oil on each individual piece of rucola. The paper-thin slices of cheese would crumble in my mouth and dissolve like stubborn ice. There was also a distinct vinegar flavor to add an extra kick to the salad. My only complaint is that the salad was a bit too oily for me.
The other item on my plate was the prosciutto cotto, spicy relish, and grana panini. I only just realized that both my choices of salad and panini involved grana. On hindsight, I would have liked to order a different panini with a different cheese, but the prosciutto cotto panini was satisfying nonetheless.
The half-sized panini itself was rather large—I would have assumed the panini was a full-sized one. The bread is engaging and crunchy, but I think the bread could have used a little less heat. There is a point when bread can get too hard from toasting and pressing, and this bread almost reached that point. The fillings, played nicely with each other. Warm prosciutto that cut like ham and soft, melted cheese shyly peeked their way outside the bread. The spicy relish added a noticeable pizzaz to the panini and reminded me of pizza.
21 Bedford Street
New York, NY 10012