Every New York City sidewalk is its own smorgasbord of delicious food, but the foods being served from that very sidewalk are too often disregarded — and wrongfully so. Not only are food trucks found on just about every corner, but the food most of them serve is as delicious as their presence is convenient.
After sampling a variety of the city’s best food trucks, I’ve devised a list of personal favorites that I can guarantee will make you second guess placing that fourth Sweetgreen mobile order this week. Though, beware: some of them require a little bit of a trek across New York, which I would argue is definitely worth it.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and Mama Jo’s, where classic Greek hospitality overflows within the vicinity of a little food cart on East 47th Street and Park Avenue, proves exactly why. Mama Jo herself tended me to me when I visited, and her own kin were her coworkers — her young granddaughter diligently helped slice the baklava and portion out the spinach spanakopita. Both were delectable.
The baklava was perfectly sweet with the right amount of crunch, while the spanakopita, cheesy and still warm, was the Mediterranean breakfast of champions. Best of all, most of the items are incredibly cheap, selling for under $5, and every penny spent on the made-with-love breakfast fare is well worth it.
I decided to pack on the protein at D’abruzzo, a Smorgasburg gem that serves food from one of Italy’s lesser known mountainous regions, Abruzzo, where an emphasis on local food influences its cuisine. Charcoal-grilled lamb sprinkled with salt is a menu highlight — its beauty lies in the simplicity. Though the line of carnivores waiting for chef Tommaso Conte to grill the spicy oil-drizzled skewers to perfection is long, the perfectly tender and moist reward makes it worth it.
The lamb skewers didn’t need any accompaniments, despite my preference of eating meats with some form of side dish, like rice or vegetables, which goes to show its superb quality. If you’re not much of a meat fan, D’abruzzo brims with other options, like their meatless meatballs, an assortment of rolled up crepes with cheese, and pizzelles to curb your sweet tooth.
Finally, Jiannetto’s Pizza and Catering is a delicious reminder of why New York pizza is the Big Apple culinary icon it is today. Chef Joe Jiannetto was quick to tell me of his and his fiancee’s recent engagement while she frantically served patrons warm tomato meatballs, adding to the welcoming experience. With Joe, you’re family.
I opted for pizza and patiently waited for the dish to be prepared. I spent no time, however, letting the slice cool down. The margherita was unlike others of its kind, with the tomato sauce-to-cheese ratio being significantly higher. Basil and marinara exploded in my mouth, which was a good thing, but I still tasted the flavors and textures of cheese, despite it not being so physically evident on the slice. I couldn’t stop myself from eating another.
Book us for your next private event! Weddings, birthdays, graduations, etc… We bring the food to you! pic.twitter.com/7bu7jGrdWv
— Jiannetto's Pizza and Catering (@Jiannettos_NYC) September 4, 2018
We are literally all stuck on an island with boundless amounts of food here in Manhattan, so why continue opting for the same old joints? I challenge you to try eating your way through the city without leaving the sidewalk.
Email Celina Khorma at [email protected]