Marcus Samuelsson's Favorite Spot For Coffee And Pasta In NYC

Marcus Samuelsson knows his way around New York City's diverse culinary landscape. The Ethiopian-Swedish chef has been a feature in The Big Apple's restaurant scene for over 30 years. In North America, many of Samuelsson's dining establishments can be found sprinkled across the U.S. East Coast — with a handful tucked away in his adopted hometown of NYC, where he resides. The James Beard award-winning chef knows his way around the particular tastes of New Yorkers, from his use of this umami-bomb pantry staple (hint: It's dried shrimp) to the fact that he won Best Chef: New York City.

However, when lunchtime rolls around, don't expect to find him tucking into a plate of banana leaf snapper at his seafood house, Hav & Mar, in Chelsea — or a jerk salmon bowl at his comfort food eatery, Red Rooster Harlem.

Instead, the restaurateur will likely be a few blocks down the street from the latter, enjoying an authentic taste of Italy at Pastitalia, which Samuelsson says is his absolute go-to for coffee and pasta.

Coffee at Pastitalia

The famed chef's motherland, Ethiopia, is said to be the birthplace of java, so it should come as no surprise that Marcus Samuelsson's must-have Ethiopian ingredients include coffee, which is called 'buna' in the native language. However, the television personality will happily sip on Italian brew, too. He told The Chef's List that Pastitalia was "one of his favorite spots" for getting a "great macchiato."

Along with the espresso macchiato, the menu features classic drip coffee, lattes, americanos, and cappuccinos. The pasta shop also carries a caffè marocchino, which is a layered Italian coffee that contains a shot of espresso topped with creamy frothed milk and a dusting of cocoa powder in a small cup.

For a more energizing option, patrons can opt for the red eye, which consists of one or two shots of espresso with drip coffee. In addition to the standard coffee fare, Pastitalia carries chai lattes as well as herbal and black tea.

A taste of authentic Italian

Aside from the coffee, Pastitalia is famed for its fresh-made pasta, which can be eaten at the restaurant or ordered to-go to be cooked at home. Chef Samuelsson is a fan of the shop's daily homemade pasta special, which he enjoys grabbing for lunch. Customers can choose from more than a dozen pasta shapes, including tagliatelle, mafalde, linguine, penne, rigatoni, and gnocchi, and a variety of sauces, such as arrabbiata, pesto, bolognese, four cheese, and a classic tomato and basil. Pastitalia even carries homemade lasagna, which can also be ordered 'to stay' or 'to go.'

Opened in 2022, Pastitalia, which occupies a brownstone on Lenox Avenue near Marcus Garvey Park, is a newcomer to Harlem's food scene. However, its owners — an Italian couple named Elena and Matteo — have a storied history of making pasta that dates back to their time living on Elba, an island perched off Italy's Tuscan coast. Like Samuelsson, they later immigrated to New York, opening Sottocasa Pizzeria in 2016, which is located right down the block from Pastitalia. It's safe to assume the chef is a fan of the couple's hot and fresh pizza, too.