Manganaro's Grosseria Italiano
488 Ninth Avenue
Manganaro's Grosseria, a handwritten sign out front stresses, is not related to Manganaro's Hero Boy next door. The details of the feud that rent the Manganaro family in two remain mysterious, but from a food point of view, it's easy to know which side to take. The recently refurbished Hero Boy makes its money selling six-foot long heroshere, at least, size doesn't countthat taste like nothing for office parties.
The Grosseria, though, is the real thingthis place is strictly Old World. Pass through the dark wood interior, admiring the cheese on your right and the cookies on your left. Go to the lively back counter. Get a sandwich, or one of the pastas of the day. Say goodbye to the nice man at the counter on your way out, and hope that the other branch of the Manganaro family doesn't see your contented smile.
Esposito's Pork Shop
500 Ninth Avenue
The homemade Italian sausage at this welcoming butcher is great, but that's only part of the draw. There are all sorts of fresh and cured porcine options to be hadthick-cut chops and smoked hocks, perfect for flavoring a pot of beans. They often stock gamecall ahead to checkand have some of the cheapest duck in town.
Nusret Halal Meat Market
536 Ninth Avenue
Nobody eats as much lamb as the Turks, so it makes sense to go to a Turkish butcher when you've got a craving for it. While American-raised meat will never match the flavor of lamb from the Old Country, the guys at this tiny shop know their way around our woolly friends, and they'll cut to order for stews or kebabs. While the shelves seem strangely understocked, there's actually an impressive variety of hard-to-find Turkish specialties: cherry jam, candied chestnuts, dried beans and great strong tea from the Black Sea coast.
Amazonia Juice Bar
498 Ninth Avenue
Sure, there's wheatgrass and spirulina here, and hygenic-looking packets of cure-all potions at the counter. But despite the health food trappings, Amazonia's heart is in Brazilthis is a New York version of the sort of juice bar you find everywhere in Rio. Skip the standard salads and sandwiches and go straight for the tropical smoothies. The Axe, which adds a bit of highly-caffeinated guarana powder to a fruit and yogurt mix, is a perfect cure for that afternoon slump. The Magia Tropicalwhich includes guava, passion fruit and hard-to-find Brazilian caju juicemay not have any immediate medical benefits, but it's nothing short of delicious.
Trio French Baker
476 Ninth Avenue
None of that fancy whole-wheat boutique stuff here: This is proletarian bread. White flour never had it so good: Try a crunchy, fluffy just-baked roll or some of the delicious crumbly Irish soda bread, and you'll know instantly that this wonderful bread is nothing like Wonder.
Stiles Farmers Market
472 and 569 Ninth Avenue
Going to Stiles makes you realize how rare it is to find a true produce market in Manhattan. This is not a multipurpose corner deli with fruit out front and a clump of sad lettuce squeezed in next to the milk, but rather a single-minded vendor of things that grow from the ground. Got up as a rustic shack with wooden shingles and Astroturf, Stiles has long been a neighborhood favorite. There's nothing fancy here, but the prices are outstanding and rapid turnover assures freshness.
Los 2 Rancheros
509 Ninth Avenue
One of the most authentic (read: they use a lot of lard) taquerias in Manhattan has a lovely little next-door annex selling Mexican groceries. Choose from a range of jarred salsas, or stock up on fresh chiles and tomatillos to make your own. The corn tortillas, while factory-made, are some of the freshest in town. A refrigerated case is filled with spicy chorizo sausage and jars of crema fresca, and bags of Mexican candysome tasty and some just strangeline the counters.
West African Grocery
535 Ninth Avenue
If you hurried by this place, you might mistake it for another slightly forbidding bodega. If, however, you let yourself be drawn inside, you'll realize it's something else entirely. Shiny bronze-colored dried fish are stacked in plastic tubs, while bags of killer-hot Scotch Bonnet peppers vie for space with primal-looking gourds and tubers. If you have no idea what to do with fufu or Nigerian yam flour, pick up some great Caribbean hot sauceMatouk's brand from Trinidad and Tobago is particularly good.
Central Fish Company
527 Ninth Avenue
Central Fish Company, the larger of the twin titans of fish on Ninth Avenue (Sea Breeze Fish Market is the other), has an extraordinarily wide array of goodies from the sea at rock-bottom prices. You won't find fresher fish anywhere. When it's crowded (and it often is), Central Fish feels like a miniaturized version of the chaotic, down-on-the-docks Fulton Fish Market. You'll find a variety of shellfish, including all the basics, like shrimp, scallops, clams and mussels. Whatever you're looking fortuna, salmon, fluke, red snapper, monkfish or grouperCentral Fish Company has it. Ian Zaretsky
Ninth Avenue Cheese Market
615 Ninth Avenue
While the selection doesn't compare to the hallowed dairy temples of Murray's and Fairway, there's still a lot of good cheese to be had here. Specializing in Greek and Mediterranean varietiesincluding great feta and hard-to-find Turkish cheesesthis homey neighborhood place also stocks bread, homemade spreads and dips, and sandwiches.
529 Ninth Avenue
If you're not up for a trip to Athens (or Astoria) but need some fresh feta and olives, or maybe a little orzo to accompany your ouzo, head to the International Grocery Storea Ninth Avenue pillar that specializes in Greek foods. You'll find so many herbs and spices, coffees and teas, dried fruits, olives and cheeses, it'll make your head spin. The International also has a meat market, featuring superb lamb. Ian Zaretsky
672 Ninth Avenue
Amy's bread is a superstar in two distinct star-studded food worlds: the Chelsea Market and Ninth Avenue. The original shop on Ninth Avenue is as good as ever, turning out what TomCat baker Noel Comess jokingly calls "girl bread," i.e., loaves studded with toasted walnuts, apricots, black sesame seeds and the like. At the newer Chelsea Market location, you can sit down with coffee and a sandwich and watch the breads being made right before your eyes. Owner Amy Scherber knows so much about bread that she's written a book on the subject, appropriately titled "Amy's Bread" (Morrow). If you visit either branch, don't miss the chocolate chip rolls, kalamata black olive bread, olive twists or the immensely popular semolina bread with golden raisins and fennel. Ian Zaretsky
522 Ninth Avenue
Despite all the rarified baked goods available in the city, sometimes you have a craving for a perfect, old-fashioned cupcake with white cake and chocolate frosting. When that happens, head over to Cupcake Cafe. Also featured are wonderful old-fashioned layer cakes and eye-popping, delicious birthday cakes. And if you need some low-sucrose sustenance before dessert, sandwiches, soups and pizza are also available.
Poseidon Bakerythe only quality Greek bakery in Manhattan.
Empire Coffee & TeaIt's been said that when it comes to food, Ninth Avenue has one of everything. Empire is the one when it comes to coffee and tea.
Ninth Avenue VintnerOne of the nicest results of the ongoing gentrification of Hell's Kitchen is this little gem of a wine shop.
Big Apple Meat MarketLooking for a 10-pound tub of sour cream? A whole side of beef or a block of cheese you could use as a weapon? Big Apple is the place for you.
Michael's Meat MarketSudden craving for tripe? Every part of the pig, inside and out, can be purchased at this Latin American butcher.
Cuzins Food MarketWell-priced meat and poultry and, strangely enough, an entire wall of 30-pound cans of oil.