May 12, 2010
Il Cantuccio: a new standard for biscotti
So far, from what I can tell Il Cantuccio, the new Italian bakery at 91 Christopher Street near Bleecker, puts a very high premium on chewiness. You have to like mastication in order to take pleasure in its products. Its signature cantucci are super chewy biscotti, which come in chocolate, almond, fig, prune and apricot flavors, and are a welcome change from those over-sized, crown-busting rocks that sit in a glass jar next to your local barista.
The schiacciata flatbread at Il Cantuccio are similar to focaccia, but flatter, with a muscular, elastic texture that puts the wimpy, fluffy texture of Genovese focaccia to shame. These flatbreads are as challenging to the jaws as the cantucci, and come plain or topped with tomato or large cubes of bacon. It is the combination of their austere flavor and their amazing texture that make the schiacciata so weirdly addictive. The brutti-boni (the name means “ugly but good”), are pale lumps of almond paste, egg whites, sugar, flour and salt that are baked at a low temperature to make them crisp on the outside, and –you guessed it—chewy on the inside.