The Urban Forager: Chips That End in a Vowel

Photo: Danny Kim/New York Magazine

Italy’s probably not the first country that comes to mind when you think of potato chips (that honor would go to the U.K., proud home of the prawn-cocktail crisp). But Italy’s contribution to the category should not be overlooked. This month marks the American launch of Amica Chips, the motherland’s second-best-selling brand, known for its proprietary “double-steeping” process, and chips that are light, thin, and resoundingly crunchy. Thanks to the work of two New York ex-admen turned marketing and branding specialists, this Italian import should land next week at Gristedes, Zabar’s, and Beer Table Pantry, in flavors like paprika, sea salt, and the classic Originale.

For a cheffier take on the Italian chip, consider Michael Toscano’s potato chips all’Amatriciana at Perla ($5), Gabriel Stulman’s new Greenwich Village ristorante (24 Minetta Ln., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-933-1824). In a feat of technical wizardry, Toscano captures the potent flavor of the Roman pasta by dehydrating tomato, garlic, and onion, pulverizing chile flakes, and oven-crisping guanciale and combining the rendered fat with tapioca maltodextrin to turn it into powder. This last ingredient must be tossed in à la minute, lest it reconstitute into fat, and just before service, the bowl gets a dusting of freshly grated Pecorino Romano.

Potato chips all’Amatriciana at Perla.Photo: Danny Kim/New York Magazine

There is nothing particularly Italian about the new line of Mountain Sweet Berry Farm’s potato chips ($4), sold at the farm’s Greenmarket stand (unless you count longtime customers like Mario Batali and Cesare Casella). But the four varieties, made from farmer Rick Bishop’s legendary heirloom fingerlings, purple Peruvians and Ruby Crescents among them, add a decadent frisson to the usually virtuous notion of locavore. Find them at his Union Square stand Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

The Urban Forager: Chips That End in a Vowel