Strip malls are not in the New York architectural vocabulary, thankfully. But there’s something that comes awfully close on Ninth Avenue between 24th and 25th streets. A long, low building sits on the east side of the avenue. It’s become a food lover's destination because in one single block a former sculptor named Jim Lahey has put together a little fiefdom. It consists of Co., at 230 Ninth, his fantastically good pizza place where thin crust meets some of the most inventive toppings in New York (think leeks, sausage, and shiitake). Co. is short for Company, but who knew that the root of the word company means "with bread" or con pane? Co. has a communal dining room feel. You can be seated at long tables with many other customers of if you’re feeling less companionable, there’s a wall of tables that seat parties of two or four. You can read his treatise on pizza in his book My Pizza. But you won’t find perhaps the best egg sandwich in New York there... for that, you need to go next door.
Jim Lahey had gone to Italy to learn the art of bread-baking and he brought back his considerable skills and opened his first bakery on Sullivan Street in Soho in 1994. He also brought back the wild yeast he’d cultivated in Italy and started making small-batch bread-baking. The man is a genius with bread, but his range extends to pizza dough and Italian pastries. But today, I salute his egg sandwich. Onto a rustic baguette first goes a crisp piece of pancetta. Topping the salty, crunchy pancetta goes a warm, soft-boiled egg filling that’s close in texture to a chunky egg salad. To top it off, slices of sun-dried tomato. The sandwich is no neat affair to eat since it’s presented in brown parchment paper. All the same, the egg drops out of the sandwich and is so delicious I picked up whatever pieces fell onto the plate. The bread is sublime, the taste is terrific, and the cost of all this greatness: only 6 bucks. Go for it. You’ll be awfully glad you did.
This post originally appeared on www.chewingthefat.us.com
Monte Mathews (with one T) is a New York-based food and travel writer whose blog "Chewing the Fat" has more than 400 recipes and travel stories. Mathews is hard at work on his new cooking and lifestyle book "Hamptons Weekends."