Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Little Italy Food Hall Debuts

If you're a Little Italy Mercato shopper you've probably been curious about the big, glass-front project under construction in the new Piazza della Famiglia on Date St. Now your curiosity can be sated. Not quite six months since it was announced last February, the Little Italy Food Hall is opening its doors. A project of Grain & Grit Collective, which also includes Carnitas Snack Shack and Broken Yolk Cafe, Little Italy Food Hall features six food vendors of widely varied cuisines:

  • Ambrogio15, which brought in another huge red pizza oven and Italian dough master to craft its Milanese-style pizzas--10 varieties--along with salads, cold cuts, and cheeses
  • Mein St. Asian Kitchen, which offers Asian comfort foods like ramen, dumplings, noodle soups, wings, and pork belly crisps, along with boba teas
  • Not Not Tacos, Sam the Cooking Guy Zien's debut dining experience, which features unusual dishes wrapped in tortillas, such as meatloaf, pastrami, and mashed potatoes
  • Roast Meat & Sandwich Shop, which features artisanal sandwiches, meatballs, whole roast chicken, and build-your-own Superfood Salads
  • Single Fin Kitchen, with traditional Japanese donburi, Peruvian ceviche, and oyster shooters
  • Wicked Maine Lobster, offering Maine lobster rolls, lobster mac & cheese, shrimp baskets, and chowder

Front and center as you walk into the light and airy space is the Little Italy Food Hall Bar, where you can get organic Italian varietal wines, local beers, and craft cocktails using ingredients that complement the neighboring food vendors' cuisines. There's plenty of seating, along with seating outdoors on the Piazza, where a mobile outdoor chefs' area will feature pop-up cooking demos. First up will be Sam the Cooking Guy and the bar team in an early August demo featuring summer apps and cocktails.

I had a sampling of almost all of the vendors (I hit a wall after five and didn't try the Roast Meat & Sandwich Shop). 

Perfect for a warm and humid evening was the hamachi donburi at Single Fin Kitchen. The fish was sweet and fresh and I enjoyed the pickled cucumbers and avocado.

If you like a big crunch on your chicken wings, you'll love the spicy fried chicken wings at Mein St. Asian Kitchen. The Mein St. wings have a not-too-sweet and goey orange sauce while the Zen wings are spiced with green and white onions, garlic, ginger, and black pepper. Get a lot of napkins. You'll need them!

Wicked Maine Lobster serves up a traditional lobster roll, packed with big chunks of sweet lobster, accompanied by a very nice side of coleslaw. 

Not Not Tacos is a unique concept that eschews any relationship with traditional Mexican tacos and goes for serving up some of Sam the Cooking Guy's favorite family foods. I sampled the Mashed Potato Taco, with its creamy potatoes flavored with Cholula sauce, green onions, and crushed potato chips.

Finally, there is Ambrogio15's pizzas. I had their thin-crust Prosciutto Crudo & Burrata, with, yes, a big fat sumptuous ball of burrata smack in the middle of the pizza. Slice into it and out runs the creamy cheese you must spread onto your slice. The burrata is imported from Puglia and has a flavor and texture you just won't find here. Very special.

The Little Italy Food Hall will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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