The Cheesemonger: Manhattan Gets Mozz’ed
For New Yorkers in search of the newest hot spot paying homage to a single-ingredient, we’ve happened upon the Eastern seaboard’s one-of-a-kind epicurian destination– in bar form, to be exact– celebrating one of milk’s most simple incarnations. It opened last Monday and if you love a good mozzarella (and don’t feel like making it at home), hurry up– or down, as the case may be– to midtown Manhattan.
It’s called Obikà, and it’s Neopolitan dialect for “here it is.” Silvio Ursini opened the flagship restaurant in Rome 4 years ago, but a mozzarella-focused restaurant has been a dream of his for over 20 years. After Rome came Milan, London, Turin and Parma. And soon Florence, Kuwait City, Athens and Tokyo will be screaming “here it is” in their streets, too.
The concept is an amalgamation inspired by Ursini’s love for Japanese food culture, with its artful, minimalistic presentation, and his neighborhood salumeria in Naples, which serves mozzarella simply and plainly on plastic plates. You’ll find an equally elegant and straightforward approach to Obikà’s menu and aesthetic.
Obikà Manhattan is smaller than its Italian counterparts. But with its smallness in size comes all the greater ability to focus in on the menu’s key player: buffalo mozzarella. They’ll offer a Bufala di Vermont to cover their domestic quota, and Paestum mozzarella, which they’ll import three times a week from Compania.
They’re serving mozzarella straight up, of course, but you’ll also see it alongside wholemeal crispy bread from Apulia, DOP prosciuttos, mortadella, charcoal roasted ham, and anchovies. There’s a section of the menu devoted to mozzarella rolls, which includes one starring speck and radicchio. Their grand tastings of mozzarella includes stracciatella, smoked mozzarella, buffalo ricotta, and several varieties of handmade mozzarellas.
And you can have cheese for dessert, too.
Obikà is located in the sculpture garden of 590 Madison Avenue, between 56th and 57th Streets.