Illustration: Tiago Majuelos

Rick Bayless’s terrific tortas, Hillary Sterling’s latest pasta innovation, Fly by Jing’s fiery hot pot base, and more.

The Sandwich

Tuck in to a torta.

Tortazo, 1123 Broadway

Illustration: Tiago Majuelos

A lot of tortas you get in New York are so comically meaty and overstuffed that should you manage to actually finish one, the tortería should commission a plaque commemorating the occasion and nail it to the wall. By comparison, the Mexico City–style tortas that Chicago superchef Rick Bayless serves at his new Nomad tortería, Tortazo, look svelte. Which is not to say, having eaten a bunch of them, they’re lacking or insubstantial or anything but absolutely delicious. Of the six on offer ($12.75 to $14.50), we especially like the Cubana (smoked pork loin, bacon, avocado, chipotle mustard, crema) and the cochinita pibil: slow-cooked pork shoulder with pickled red onion and a habanero salsa that will light your tongue on fire and cause steam to shoot from your ears. These tortas come on superb telera rolls that get griddle-toasted to order, which makes all the difference.

The Seasonal Snack

Savor the local grape harvest.

Union Square Greenmarket

Illustration: Tiago Majuelos

Not to knock kabocha squash, Bintje potatoes, and broccoli spigarello, but nothing at the Greenmarket trumpets the arrival of fall like the dewy clusters of Finger Lakes grapes at Buzzard Crest Vineyards’ stand on Saturdays. Of all the not-found-in-supermarkets varieties (seedless and seeded, inky purple to iridescent green), we’re partial to the Thomcord ($8.50 a pound), a hybrid of compulsively poppable Thompson Seedless and the grape-juicy Concord. Not quite as fragrant as the latter, Thomcords lack that variety’s conspicuous seeds and tough skins. They’re great out of hand, and — though purists and some schiacciata all’uva aficionados we know will recoil in horror — work in recipes where seeds would be a chore and a distraction.

The Latest Pasta Shape

Try Ci Siamo’s take on topini.

Ci Siamo, 100 Manhattan West Pl.

Illustration: Tiago Majuelos

Hillary Sterling, late of Vic’s and its borsa and occhi, is no stranger to obscure stuffed-pasta shapes. When she unveils Ci Siamo in Manhattan West next week, she will also debut what is undoubtedly a new–to–New York noodle. Although she calls it topini ($23), it is not the regional gnocchi that goes by that name in its Tuscan homeland (it translates to “field mice”). Instead, Sterling channels that classic’s spudly essence by encasing a mixture of salt-roasted and milled Yukon Golds and whipped Pecorino in a dome-shaped egg-dough pasta shell. The method, she says, allows her to control the myriad moisture and starch variables of high-volume gnocchi production. And the sauce — a touch of butter and a mint pesto that incorporates anchovy, toasted bread crumbs, almonds, and cinnamon — brings the dish further out of traditional topini territory and into the Italian South.

The New Pantry Staple

Fire up the hot pot.

Fly by Jing Fire Hot Pot

Illustration: Tiago Majuelos

If you’ve tried Fly by Jing’s Sichuan Chili Crisp, you know that everything with which that condiment comes in contact — eggs, rice, noodles, meat, fish, vanilla ice cream, shoe leather, cardboard, rubber tires, lutefisk — increases in deliciousness by a factor of about 100. Now, owner Jing Gao has applied the same fire-breathing expertise to her cook-at-home Fly by Jing Fire Hot Pot base ($20; serves four to six). All you have to do is procure some dipping ingredients (for starters, Jing suggests fish balls, greens, tofu, and lotus root), dump a packet of the incendiary stuff in a pot, add six cups of water or stock, and bring to a boil. Then, like a 14th-century Mongolian nomad, gather the gang around the television and commence dipping.

La Dolce Vita

While away an afternoon on one of the West Village’s loveliest corners.

Sogno Toscano, 17 Perry St.

Illustration: Tiago Majuelos

It’s not Rivoire in the Piazza della Signoria, but the lively little setup outside Sogno Toscano, a new wine bar-alimentari on the corner of Perry and Waverly, has attracted a bit of an Italophile crowd of its own. On sunny weekend afternoons, a jazz guitarist plays hot licks on his Gibson L-5, fashion plates wash down their mortadella-and-mozzarella focaccia sandwiches with glasses of rosato, and when all the seats are taken, some Persol-wearing dudes sidle up alongside tables on their Vespas turning the scooters into makeshift café chairs. Tuscan-expat owners Bryan Persico and Pietro Brembilla opened the storefront this summer as a showcase for their wholesale Italian-specialty-foods operation, and now they find themselves as busy running their own restaurant as they are supplying others.

*A version of this article appears in the October 11, 2021, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!