Everyone loves a good caprese salad. The Italian delicacy is genius in its simplicity. It can be nothing more than sliced tomatoes topped with fresh mozzarella, garnished with basil and drizzled in olive oil. Anybody can make caprese as well as any Italian restaurant in town so long as anybody has access to high quality ingredients. Ay, there’s the rub: Where to find those ingredients.

Jersey tomatoes are some of the best on the planet (Italians didn’t even know what a tomato was until it was brought back from the New World just a few centuries back). So the base ingredient shouldn’t be a problem, especially since ripe Jersey tomatoes can be found at almost every market in city during these summer months. Crisp, aromatic basil, if it's not one of the plants growing on your window sill, can be purchased fresh from the farm at any of the city’s myriad farmers markets. And a tin of high quality olive oil is an investment in flavor that will pay dividends well beyond your next dinner party.


The fresh mozzarella is the most important ingredient, but it is also the most difficult to find. Even some of New York’s world class cheese shops like Murray’s don’t take the time to make mozzarella fresh on the premises. While there are downtown shops that make fresh mozzarella (Joe’s Dairy), Mike’s Deli in the Arthur Avenue Retail Market in The Bronx is where you’ll find the best.

Mike’s Deli makes mozzarella fresh all day. Just stand there looking hungry, and the counterman will gladly fork over a generous taste of mozzarella while it’s still delightfully warm. And once the mozzarella has taken its cold bath, you can buy a great, squishy ball of it in a plastic quart container. Mike’s mozzarella is salted to perfection, and the texture strikes an ideal balance of stringiness and softness. It is so flavorful that, if you are anything like me, you’ll devour half of it before you have the chance to marry it to your tomatoes, basil, and olive oil.

Mike’s also sells some of the best dry Italian sausages in the city as well as an array of giant, mozzarella-centric heroes. But it is their fresh mozzarella that can make your homemade caprese salad taste like you ordered it at Lupa.


Mike's Deli 2344 Arthur Ave, Belmont, TheBronx 718-295-5033