For most fans of Alleva, it’s about the cheese. But the venerable Little Italy latticini (established 1892) also makes nice, hefty sandwiches with good cured meats and cheeses (its own and others’) on tasty sesame rolls. They top out at $7 for the Italian combo (prosciutto, soppressata, cheese), plus a buck or so for add-ons like sun-dried tomato or roasted peppers. If your timing is right, you can peer through the window on Mulberry and watch a guy pulling mozzarella by hand.

Alleva’s food and service have won over stuartlafonda, a 20-year devotee of neighboring Italian Food Center. But the other reason he defected was a troubling downhill trend at his onetime favorite across Mulberry Street. For example, stuart reports, peppers are straight from the bottle, not roasted in-house, and the default prosciutto is a cheaper Canadian substitute, not the real prosciutto di Parma (which commands a premium of a couple bucks). If that weren’t enough, he adds, Italian Food Center now advertises that it serves sushi. “That is sad,” he laments.

Alleva Dairy [Little Italy]
188 Grand St., at Mulberry, Manhattan

Italian Food Center [Little Italy]
186 Grand St., at Mulberry, Manhattan

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