the next few months are prime picnic time in central park. with so many different events going on there all summer long – from shakespeare in the park to summer stage as well as the new york philharmonic (july 14th) and the metropolitan opera (july 13th at summer stage this year) concerts – i figured it was important to have a few ideas as to where to pick up some good eats from both the east and the west sides of town. in addition to those below, about.com did a nice listing of some other options as well.
before packing picnic provisions, however, you might want to consider the brand new public fare, danny meyer’s latest venture operating out of the delacorte theatre. while i only managed to taste the whoopie pie today (already stuffed from soft shell crabs at lunch), many of the other items looked good like the yellowfin tuna salad sandwich with lemon, olives and arugula on sullivan street panino, the chilled english pea soup with crème fraîche and chèvre and then the mixed berries with sour cream and brown sugar (real nostalgia food for me). some initial positive reviews have already come in for public fare from serious eats and grub street. and as would be expected in a meyer joint, he doesn’t forget about those little service touches. public fare also offers complimentary dog biscuits and edamame snacks while paying for your feast. public fare, delacorte theater in central park, take path from entrance at 81st street and central park, manhattan, new york.
the west side:
levain bakery: while mostly on the dessert side of things (with their über famous chocolate chip and walnut cookie), levain bakery also has some crispy pizza slices (like olives with goat cheese, or artichoke hearts with gruyère) and a few sandwich options all affordably priced (except the cookie at $3.75) as well as a nice selection of breads. 167 west 74th street between amsterdam and columbus avenues, manhattan, new york, 212.874.6080.
salumeria rosi parmacotto: with an amazing selection of salumi including il parmacotto, porchetta toscana, speck di tirolo and prosciutto toscano grigliato as well as some fine cheeses, i think that you could put together a pretty nice spread, and then maybe go get a few chocolates from jacques torres next door to have a great, though a little unbalanced, meal. 283 amsterdam avenue between 73rd and 74th streets, manhattan, new york, 212.877.4800.
zabars: a little bit further from central park, zabars will have whatever you want to eat as well as a bunch of delicious prepared foods at decent prices. i am also a huge fan of their cheese selection. 2245 broadway at 80th street, manhattan, new york, 212.787.2000.
bouchon bakery: definitely the priciest option of this bunch, bouchon bakeryhas some lovely treats as well as some savory food items that would travel well. expect a line from this thomas keller shop. time warner center at 10 columbus circle, manhattan, new york, 212.823.9366.
the east side:
mitchell london foods: definitely on the super pricey side, but really very very good. i don’t think you’ll see the cruellers there this time of year but most of the food is fabulous. 22 east 65th street, between madison and 5th avenues, manhattan, new york, 212.737.2850.
yura & company: while i haven’t had their take out foods, it all looked excellent when i was there if also on the pricey side (i just don’t think it’s easy to find cheap on the east side, at least with any quality unfortunately). 1292 madison avenue at 92nd street, manhattan, new york, 212.860.8060.
e.a.t.: as i have mentioned before, e.a.t. has very high quality take out for sandwiches, salads and other great picnic fare and it will not be a cheap venture but at least the shop is very close to the park. 1064 madison avenue at 80th street, manhattan, new york, 212.772.0022.