With all the hype of locavorism — and yes, I'm a big proponent of buying local — many seem to forget the global economy in which our dining is rooted, and the importance that some imports can have in our restaurants.
Da Marcella, a quaint Italian trattoria on the western outskirts of SoHo (some may call it the South Village, some West Village), welcomes New Yorkers, Italians, and everyone in between into their subterranean eatery for some of the best in Italian pastas.
Ranging at just $10-12, Da Marcella serves some of the most affordable yet still elegant pastas in NYC.
The bolognese, made from a traditional family recipe generations old, is definitely what brings me back. The sauce cooks for eight hours, and is made from equal parts veal and pork, and peeled tomatoes. A splash of cream gives the sauces its richness, but the true magic ingredient is a secret bouquet of herbs — nutmeg is definitely distinguishable — which simmers in the sauce. "Love is the key ingredient," owner Manuel Moreno told me, when I begged him for a recipe during a weekly visit.
Fluffy gnocchi, served with shrimp and cherry tomatoes all about the same size as the dumplings are my new favorite for spring — fresh and light but with a bit of a spicy kick, this surprisingly light dish full of flavor is my new craving.
Fresh gnocchi (credit: Melissa Kravitz)
And though flavors at Da Marcella are brought directly from Italy, the restaurant is still very much a neighborhood institution. All meats are sourced from Pino’s Prime Meat, located right across the street from Da Marcella.
Only a few steps from Raffetto's, the famed downtown pastamaker, Da Marcella gets special products from their neighbors on a weekly basis to supplement the authentic Italian pastas on the menu. A ravioli is made freshly each week in house, and specials featuring local ingredients, like ramps (which are all the rage right now), appear on the menu as seasonally appropriate.