|The man himself, Jim Lahey|
Strip malls are not in the New York Architectural vocabulary, thank God. But there’s something that comes awfully close on Ninth Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets. A long low building sits on the east side of the Avenue. It’s become a foodie destination because in one single block a former sculptor named Jim Lahey has put together a little fiefdom. It consists of CO., at 230 Ninth, his fantastically good Pizza place where thin crust meets some of the most inventive toppings in New York. Think Leeks and Sausage, and Shiitake. CO. is short for Company. But who knew that the root of the word company means “with bread” or con pane. CO. has a communal dining room feel. You can be seated at long tables with many other customers of if you’re feeling less companionable, there’s a wall of tables that seat parties of two or four. You can read his treatise on Pizza in his book: “My Pizza” (Clarkson Potter 2012). But you won’t find the best Egg Sandwich in New York there. For that, you need to go next door.
|Head to the Strip Mall for today’s best of the best.|
Jim Lahey had gone to Italy to learn the art of bread-baking and he brought back his considerable skills and opened his first bakery on Sullivan Street in Soho in 1994. He also brought back the wild yeast he’d cultivated in Italy and started making small batch bread baking. The man is a genius with bread but his range extends to pizza dough and Italian pastries. But today, I suit his Egg Sandwich. Onto a rustic baguette first goes a crisp piece of pancetta. Topping the salty, crunchy pancetta goes a warm, soft boiled egg filling that’s close in texture to a chunky egg salad. To top it off, slices of sun-dried tomato. The sandwich is no neat affair to eat; it’s presented in brown parchment paper. But even then, the egg drops out of the sandwich and is so delicious I picked up whatever pieces fell onto the plate. The bread is sublime, the taste is terrific and the cost of all this greatness: 6 bucks. Go for it. You’ll be awfully you did.