Anthony Bleecker was a New York City lawyer and poet whose best friend was Washington Irving. Legend has it that because the wagon ruts that passed for a road ran through his farm, Bleecker became the street's name.
Today, Bleeker Street is known for its high-end boutiques, but small shops still abound on this historic stretch of Greenwich Village. Luckily, in this time of re-discovery of small batch, handmade food, a few food purveyors are still plying their trade.
From the delicious cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery at 11th Street to Quartino Bottega Organica, an organic restaurant near the Bowery, Bleeker is a street every food lover should discover. A list of shops specializing in food would include:
--Ottomanelli's Meat Market, old fashioned attention at the counter.
--John's of Bleecker Street, some say the best pizza in the city.
--Faicco's Sausage Shop, handmade from whole pigs.
--Amy's Bread, artisanal breads.
--The Lobster Place, top quality seafood.
--Grom, authentic organic gelato.
--Oliviers & Co, olive oil from around the world.
--Porto Rico Importing Co., fine coffee beans.
But, the anchor, the temple, the destination that most people equate with food and Greenwich Village is Murray's Cheese Shop. This is truly an institution. Originally founded in 1940, owner Rob Kaufelt bought Murray's in 1991. It's been said that this store is the best cheese shop in America, stocking some 250 different cheeses, artisanal foods and ethnic condiments. Rob travels the world seeking out the best in every cheese category. In underground caves affinage (the art of aging) is practiced. This process makes the great cheeses that come to their door, even better. Murray's was one of (if not the) cheese shop in America to build caves specifically for aging. Kaufelt has received France's prestigious Garde et Jure medal from the Guilde des Fromagers. In addition to the cheeses and gourmet food products sold, classes are offered and Kaufelt's cheese compendium is available.
Watch Rob Kaufelt talk about his world of cheese here.
Bleeker Street merchants are trying their best to keep their food street a unique street. Taking a walk down Bleeker, popping into these (and other shops) is a great way to spend a beautiful New York afternoon.