4, 5, 6 at 86th St.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
When owners Joel Dean, Giorgio DeLuca, and Jack Ceglic opened their flagship store in an old warehouse in 1977, Soho was still a fringe neighborhood that artists were beginning to discover. How times change. Today, the company has nine locations in Manhattan alone with some selling not only prepared and fresh foods but cookware as well. (Still others function simply as cafés.) The store's reputation is built not on the quantity but on the quality of its cheeses, chocolates, meats, and kitchenware. Fruits and vegetables are uniformly fresh; prepared foods are worthy of catering. As in many gourmet shops citywide, the canned and prepared sections lean toward Italian, with plenty of sauces, pasta, and antipasti. Items from developing countries are few, unless they're packaged in fancy tins then backed by a celebrity chef. The rich chocolate cakes and fruit pies are culled from top local bakeries and at most locations you can get an espresso.