There are times when all I want is a monstrous plate of chicken parmesan atop a pile of spaghetti. I want some bad bread and a house salad. I want Chianti out of a jug. And I want tiramisu for dessert. It’s not gourmet. It’s not cool. But say you just had the longest day of work, the weather is cold and raw, the news sucks, you miss your Mom whom you haven’t spoken to in days (or weeks), and you don’t feel like cooking but you’re starving. Suddenly, chicken parm and spaghetti and tiramisu and wine out of a jug sounds pretty perfect, right?
As a resident of Little Italy, I am allowed to admit I don’t like Little Italy. I love DiPalo’s market, their amazing cheeses make me swoon. Otherwise, the cheese factor is BAD, thanks to the regular influx of bridge and tunnelers and the big waste of time known as San Gennaro Festival. When I heard about Florio’s, I made a mental note and tucked it away. “Old school red sauce Italian, plentiful and cheap.” I never thought Little Italy could make me happy. Until one rainy day, when I needed it.
Note, Florio’s is also home to Three Little Indian Cigars, so you have to wade through a bunch of guys in the front room, puffing on cigars, having a scotch and watching the game. The back room is cozy and lowlit. My dinner partner and I shared a stuffed artichoke covered in garlic, butter and breadcrumbs, caesar salad, pesto gnocchi, and chicken parm. We split a bottle of red wine and ate too much bread. Everything was good: no frills, great sauces, lots of flavor, and extraordinarily low prices. We left full and best of all, comforted. Nothing is better than the delusion that your Italian nonna just cooked your dinner.
Florio’s, Grand Street between Mulberry and Mott. See the menu on their website.
Three Little Indian Cigars: an interesting little spot for those who like cigars. More info here.