The (Very) Early Word: Torrisi Italian Specialties

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Torrisi Italian Specialties's marinated mushrooms, to go.

Earlier today, Torrisi Italian Specialties unlocked its doors to bestow upon Mulberry Street the kind of food shop that's become synonymous with the aughts: old-timey decor and grub fashioned from the best that artisanal America has to offer. Opened by two chefs who've done time at Cafe Boulud, A Voce, and Del Posto, Torrisi is a nod back to the classic Italian deli, the kind that sold meatball heros and antipasto before being turned into hair salons and canine outfitters.

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Eggplant caponata, subjected to the fluorescent glare of FitR HQ's ceiling lights.

Fork in the Road stopped by this afternoon to sample some of Torrisi's antipasti selection, which includes eggplant caponata, marinated mushrooms, gigante beans in tomato sauce, potato salad with bacon, and sauteed broccoli rabe and is sold by the quarter-pound. All of the antipasti were displayed on a high wooden counter, and presented on immaculate white plates.

The marinated mushrooms ($4/quarter-pound) were a pleasure to both behold and devour. Comprised of button, king oyster, and maitake mushrooms, it's studded with slivers of celery and garlic, dusted liberally with rosemary, parsley, and thyme, and marinated in olive oil and vinegar. It's got a clean, bright, slightly acidic taste that's given added depth by the herbs. The mushrooms themselves are cut into substantial slabs, are pleasingly robust and meaty. These are marinated mushrooms for people who like their mushrooms to bite back.

The eggplant caponata ($3/quarter-pound) is a similarly strapping concoction, boasting chunks of zucchini, red pepper, celery, and fennel in addition to its eponymous star. It's garnished with long pine nuts and golden raisins and has a sweet-hot flavor and melting texture. And while it suffers from a surfeit of oil, it's an altogether solid version of the Sicilian dish, a warm weather staple that is thick and rich enough to act as a foil to the colder months, too.

250 Mulberry Street, near Prince Street


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