I love walking down the north side of Grand Street between Mulberry and Mott, the only block of Manhattan's Little Italy that seems to retain some authenticity and practical application, vis a vis good food. Alleva Dairy, Piemonte's Ravioli, Di Palo Fine Foods—I love these old shops.
Alleva and Di Palo's (below) are both touted for their mozzarella. I've bought cheese from both places on occasion, but never at the same time, and never really sat down and chose a favorite.
So, last Saturday I stopped by both Alleva and Di Palo's and bought a lump of fresh house-made mozzarella from both stores. (With a side trip to purchase some broccoli rabe ravioli from Piemonte.) It took a minute at tiny Alleva. It took about a half hour at large, crowded, take-a-ticket Di Palo's. Both cheeses were made fresh that day; I asked.
I took the cheeses home and unwrapped them. I expected to be swayed by Alleva. It has the larger reputation for mozzarella in the City. And, I'll admit, I'm attracted to its small-time, antiquated aura. It retains the feel of an Olde New York store, whereas Di Palo, also a very old business (though about 20 years younger than Alleva), had been tricked out and modernized.
But it was Di Palo that surprisingly won over my tasted buds. Both shops make a fine mozzarella. But they are very different. Alleva's is a stronger-fleshed cheese. It's firm and meaty. I imagine it would stand up well to any competing ingredient, either in a sandwich or a pasta. Di Palo's is softer, lighter, creamier and more delicate of texture. It was lovely all by itself.