Ferrara Bakery has held a prominent location in Little Italy since Enrico Scoppa and Antonio Ferrara first brought their cannolis and gelato to the neighborhood in 1892. In those days, the neighborhood flocked there to sip coffee and play a Neapolitan card game called scopa. But as the years passed, the Ferraras became famous for their impeccably fresh baked goods. The secret to that success was pretty simple—they didn't let their cookies and cakes sit around. Instead, they mixed and baked small batches several times a day.
More than 120 years later, the fifth generation of the Ferrara family runs the bakery and café, luring patrons in with the smell of fresh espresso and European baked goods whose traditions span parts of three centuries. Though the cases contain cream puffs, éclairs, lobster-tail pastries, and even gelato, the most popular treat remains the cannoli, made with small chocolate chips mixed right into the sweet ricotta filling. Ronald Reagan was among the many fans of the signature cannoli, and some say he sat for his presidential portrait with one in his jacket pocket.
All of this fame hasn't stopped the Ferraras from innovating. They've recently added a weekend brunch menu filled with made-to-order favorites such as steak and eggs and breakfast pizzas that are served until 4 p.m. The cafe also boasts a full bar, where guests can knock back innovative cocktails such as the house-favorite tirimisu martini.
The menus at some Vietnamese restaurants feel like they could take hours to comb through. Not V-Nam Cafe's. Chefs there prepare just three pho—sliced beef, shredded chicken, or vegetable—plus a few stews, such as beef, carrots, and daikon simmering in oxtail broth.
Tokyo-born chef Akiko Thurnauer can thank her dad for introducing her to ingredients from Europe and the Middle East, and your tastebuds will thank him too after sampling her unique fusion fare such as lamb meatballs with ginger taztziki. Her husband's Swiss background also gets a nod in a fudgy chocolate walnut cake.
One of the Lower East Side’s earliest adopters of Vegan cuisine, Tiengarden believes in returning its customers to “a natural world of tranquility and peace.” The chefs, ever mindful of ancient Chinese philosophy regarding food and health, turn out organic meat-free dishes like oriental root salad with tofu, crispy gluten nuggets with mango and ginger buckwheat noodles with goji berries. Recent renovations to the interior have created a trendier space, with picnic tables for communal seating, a window-front counter for extra space and white counter tops that make the vegetable dishes pop with color. Nature itself gets tribute in the large waterfall painting on the back wall, though an array of pickled vegetables in jars also help to liven the place up.
Le Pain Quotidien’s bakers follow a few simple rules when baking bread: no preservatives, no additives, no improvers. Instead, they use organic ingredients to create loaves and baguettes, as well as kid-friendly waffles, muffins, and apple pear turnovers. Even glasses of milk, apple cider, lemonade, and orange juice are organic.
Mentioned by the New York Times, New York magazine, and Time Out New York, Teany Cafe, acclaimed musician Moby’s culinary brainchild, fashions fresh, meat-free morsels alongside an expansive selection of soothing steepables from around the world. A collection of 98 loose-leaf teas line the brightly-lit walls of the café, sporting a multitude of aromas and origins, from the delicately flavored Chinese organic silver needle to the full-bodied irish breakfast (prices vary). Herbivores can greet the soy-based sunrise with a variety of vegan muffins and scones ($3.50 each) paired with a warm beverage, such as the candied-apple teanychino ($3.50)—a fusion of apple, hibiscus, and rose hips, blended with caramel and steeped in regular, skim, or soy milk. Vegetarian chicken-salad sandwich melts ($8) lie in wait for an unsuspecting picnic basket or innocent potluck, and zucchini, wild mushrooms, and olives nestle into the vegan quiche’s flaky pastry, topped with a vegan tomato-cream sausage sauce and served alongside a verdant salad ($9). Decadent vegan delights, such as chocolate peanut-butter mousse cake ($5) and four-berry cheesecake ($5), finish off herbivorous helpings.