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Joe's Dairy is one of those places that transports you back in time when you walk in. A true neighborhood institution, Joe's has been run for the past twenty five years or so by Anthony Campanelli, who took over the business from Joe Aiello. During that time, Joe's has been making what is arguably some of the city's best mozzarella by hand.

2004_08_food_joesdairy3.jpgWe were on a quest for fresh mozzarella last weekend, and the woman behind the counter was more than helpful. "What can I get you, hun?" "Well, we're making pizza *, so we'll start with some mozzarella." "Would you like a big one or a small one?" "A big one -- so we can have leftovers." "Salted or unsalted, hun?" "Um . . . salted." "And what else can I get for you, hun?"

Gothamist is not used to being called "hun" quite so much, but we certainly enjoyed it at Joe's -- it lent a degree of familiarity that fit the atmosphere perfectly, as if we had been coming in regularly for years. Faced with a dizzying selection of cheeses and antipasti, we opted for some mixed olives and a few stuffed peppers. Those would certainly tide us over until the pizza was ready. Clutching our goodies, we headed home.

Joe's Dairy, 156 Sullivan Street, between Houston and Prince Sts., SoHo, (212) 677-8780.

* A picture of the finished product.