Tiny tiles of boiled ham — prosciutto cotto — were famously employed by Joe's Superette in its fried-to-order prosciutto balls. That venue shut its well-worn door in 2011, but a former manager, reported Chowhound, prepares them on Prince St. to the old recipe.
Mine, fresh fried, were meant to be a little cool on the inside, said the counterman, the better to show off the flavors of mozzarella, asiago, and parmigiano-reggiano. Though the going rate in Soho ($1.25 each, no minimum) is about twice the price I last paid in Carroll Gardens, it still seems like a deal.
"Nerone," in Northern Italy, refers to something darker than dark. As applied to this gelato (a free sample), the name signifies a base of 80 percent cacao, with all the depth of chocolate flavor that implies, and none of the bitterness.
The coffee in this bookstore café ($1.75; includes one refill) is prepared from an Italian brand called Miscela D'oro; it's medium-bodied and slightly acidic, and I love how the pump pot froths the surface. The café itself has a pleasant atmosphere: not too frenetic, but not overrun with all-day campers, either.
McNally Robinson Teahouse 52 Prince St. (Lafayette-Mulberry Sts.) 212-274-1160
You'll find ample opportunity to experiment with fancy flavors at Ciao Bella, though even a small cup ($4.75) will cost you. I've enjoyed their malted milk ball gelato, especially the little crunchy bits; the cantaloupe tarragon sorbet — sandy orange with flecks of dark green — has a gentle, refreshing melon flavor.
"Pecorino" ("little sheep") describes a vast range of Italian sheep's milk cheeses; Di Palo's carries more than a hundred, including this variety ($12.99 per pound) that borrows from the beehive, then wraps itself in paper impressed with hay. The yellowed interior is hard and granular; the aroma, mildly lactic, with hints of honey as well as hay. On the tongue, exceptionally even-tempered lactic flavors step forward, and the other notes recede, provided you peel it.