A taste of the Old World, to go
Iacopo Falai, who launched his American career as Le Cirque's gifted pastry chef, is beloved for his Soho café and Clinton Street panetteria and restaurant, where customers line up for modern Florentine cuisine, signature pastries and you're-like-family service.
The latest addition to Falai's mini, Italian empire is a provisions store next door to Caffe Falai carrying imported delicacies and Italian comfort food--including some of the best pastries we've ever had.
Bottega Falai's white walls and chandeliers are pristine, but the atmosphere is as welcoming as an Italian grandma's kitchen. The bubbly staff will guide you through the shelves of imported specialties like Etruria blood-orange olive oil ($26) and Di S.M. Novella jams ($24) while recommending which fresh breads to pair them with (we love the onion focaccia).
For lunch or dinner, opt for homemade specialties like pappa al pomodoro soup ($5), asparagus salad with mustard dressing ($8) or a made-to-order panini ($5) (our pick is prosciutto with Fontina cheese and tomato).
But the pastries truly steal the show. At $4 each, we recommend trying several: The flourless chocolate cake, banana-almond tart and custard-filled bombolini (Italian doughnut) are standouts.
Bottega Falai is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., so it's the perfect spot for a morning croissant and espresso or post-dinner strawberry-pistachio tart.
Bottega Falai, 267 Lafayette St. (at Prince St.); 212-334-3132 or falainyc.com