What a delightful story! The website of the new eatery, Antico Noè explains it all, and I was genuinely charmed. In the 1940s, a tiny shop, situated in an arcaded alley in Florence, Italy, opened up to sell fresh Italian panini lunches to hungry postwar Italians. The store grew in such popularity that in 2007, American businessman Michael Grant and Italian restaurant manager Vinny Dauta, both fans of the restaurant, forged a friendship and decided to bring Antico Noè to America, opening its first U.S. store on the East Side of Manhattan in 2016. Vowing authenticity, the American Antico Noè team trained at the Florence locale so that they could mirror perfectly the sandwiches and style of this legendary Italian café.
Curiousity having gotten the best of me, I convinced my colleagues to try the new city shop. On a recent warm Friday afternoon, one of those days that simply beg for a long, leisurely lunch tucked away in someone’s office, we ordered in the signature paninis: stuffed chicken with mushrooms, mozzarella and the Antico Noè rosè sauce; roasted turkey with onions, brie and the shop’s own spicy sauce; prosciutto di parma with mushrooms, mozzarella and rosè sauce; and skewers of tomatoes with basil and mozzarella in a balsamic glaze.
The panini, some of the lightest and most flavorful I have ever tasted, showcased the meats beautifully (we all have favorites, and I confess to falling hard for the prosciutto di parma). The skewers of tomatoes and mozzarella were so fresh and so delicate, you‘d think they had been prepared by a gourmet chef in a formal kitchen from one of the city’s top Italian restaurants. Other choices on the menu include spicy salami with sun-dried tomatoes; a vegetarian option that includes marinated eggplant, artichokes and roasted onions; and another prosciutto di parma sandwich, this one with brie and walnut sauce. Paninis are offered as Florentine white or seven grain.
The shop offers both take-out and a 10-seat counter for eating in.
Mamma mia, what a lovely find in Midtown!
» Antico Noè, 220 E. 53rd St., 212.750.0802