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Garden of Eden
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With shelves jam-packed with specialty oils, sauces, tapenades, and condiments, and produce sections overflowing with cornucopia-style piles of Italian plums, heirloom tomatoes, and gleaming apples, Garden of Eden aims for the maximum visual effect, and it works. Unusually, all locations are, more or less, equal. While shopping here may be more claustrophobic than at Fairway or Citarella—you'll be bumping baskets every few seconds in the narrow aisles—it's a smaller, less-overwhelming operation. But smaller doesn't mean fewer selections: The serve-yourself olive bar has 28 varieties, and the charcuterie counter, decorated with dangling sausages, features no fewer than seven kinds of prosciutto di Parma. An ample cheese section announces itself with redolent wheels of Livarot and chunks of Père Joseph. The bakery balances savory and sweet, with loaves of house-made sourdough, linzer tortes, and chocolate mousse cakes. In addition to dozens of dry pastas, Garden of Eden features stacks of freshly made house-label pasta, like pumpkin gnocchi and artichoke linguine, that rival any in town. Especially impressive are the condiment shelves, which take up most of the rear of each store. These are chock-a-block with fancy oils like roasted-garlic grapeseed and dill-infused sunflower, balsamic vinegars in special limited-edition decanters, tinned escargots, and tempting oddities like pickled salsify.