trying to repay my debts to the board for some great referrals ... this is a longer post - not enough time to break it up. inside: finds for pizza, bakery items, Haagen-Daaz, granola, and bagels.
First, I just did a posting on a solid Indian buffet on 9th Ave. As promised in that post, I want to mention here my favorite pizza place in the city - Sacco's. It's on 9th, I think around 54th St. - you could do what I do, which is just start walking on the west side of 9th starting 52nd street or so, and you'll hit it. I'm just as up for anyone else for a good brick oven pie, perfectly charred - but nostalgia, and very competent pizza-making, also pull very hard. People in Brooklyn or Queens would probably scoff, because this is the archetypal "neighborhood place" they can find anywhere, but in Manhattan it's not as easy. The place has been in business since the 1950's. I especially recommend the calzone - it's like a powder cloud of ricotta, with this really fresh butter just oozing through it.
Only non-chowhounds would laugh at the idea of going to an otherwise nondescript place on 14th Street East Village just for a muffin. But if you are a hound, or simply in the area, the bakery on the south side of 14th street right around the west corner from Avenue B has a lot of cookies and muffins that are great for people like me who tend to find most bakeries put way too much sugar into their goods. For example, their bran muffin actually tastes like something more than sugar and fat, and it's got this great nutty taste to it, like they're throwing wheat germ in there. To go Zagat-ty for a moment, some people would say it's "dry as the Sahara," but it's to my taste. also, they run a donut-and-coffee-for-a-buck deal. Also they have some Indian tidbits, which I haven't tried yet.
Whatever deli is closest to this store, I have to mention - here is a thrill of discovery that only fellow Haagen-Daaz addicts can relate to - the deli near the bakery has one freezer on the left side of the store for Ben & Jerry's, and a whole separate freezer for Haagen-Daaz (am I the only one who thinks B&J tastes like liquid sugar or candy, and not ice cream?). Their inventory can run low at times, but still, a problem with a lot of the delis around far E. Village is they only carry mango, dulce de leche, and one or two other flavors. This place carries more, when stocked. Just like cigarette owners pass on the name of the store with the cheapest pack, H-D runs $3 here, compared to $3.50 or $4 elsewhere. (and, B&J was $2.90 - OK, i'm an occasional traitor to the cause).
And this is for the more health-conscious people, or the schizophrenic (sp?) eaters like me who occasionally "go crunchy" - there's like a whole shrine to granola in the Food Emporium chain. There's maybe 10 or 15 different versions, both premium stuff and some well-priced regular brands. i've been frustrated with regular supermarkets that don't stock granola, or give you one of those 6 oz. jokes.
Finally, bagels - Le Bon Bagels is my favorite on the commuting trail, since it's on 6th Ave just above 34th St. (east side of the street, definitely south of 42nd St.). The only thing, I wish bagel places would have a defined time they pull bagels out - doesn't everyone like them ten times better when they are right out of the oven? what Le Bon does, that is completely malicious, is if you are walking by and decide naw don't feel like a bagel today, you walk about half a block north away from the place and only then do you get hit with the smell of baking bagels - so you have to swallow your dignity and admit you were wrong and walk all the way back to get a bagel.
phew. just want to thank you for your patience for getting through the post. i'm curious about other people's reactions to these places, plus the Indian place I just posted.