food / travel

The Italian Mozzarella Bar Conquering The World

A second Obica location has now opened in New York, bringing the global chain's high-end authentic mozzarella experience to a new level of global expansion.

NYC Flatiron's Obica Mozzarella Bar
NYC Flatiron's Obica Mozzarella Bar
Francesco Semprini

NEW YORK — When patrons come to the Flatiron District location of the Obicà Mozzarella Bar, they often say what a perfect spot it is, declares the company's U.S. manager Raimondo Boggia. With that, he welcomes us to the newest location of the Italian chain that has already conquered some of the world's key markets.

The company was founded in 2004 on the initiative of owner Silvio Ursini, and it has since grown to 20 restaurants in Rome, Florence, Milan, Tokyo, London, Los Angeles and New York. With the new Flatiron District location, Obicà now has two restaurants in the Big Apple.

It's just another Italian touch in an area full of boutiques and offices affiliated with the Bel Paese including the ginormous emporium that is Eataly.

"It was a shrewd choice, carefully thought through and studied," Boggia says. "We surveyed different areas, but we didn't want anything too fashionable. On one hand, there was the importance of making Obicà stand out among many others, but on the other to find where the right target audience were."

When he saw the location, Boggia imagined how it would look and knew right away that it was the right choice. The rest is history: an inspirational industrial environment, with visible pipelines, exposed red bricks and high-beamed ceilings, two counters, one bar and a restaurant.

The renovation and decor created by Labics Studio and architect Maria Claudia Clemente reflect the philosophy of the mozzarella bar, an elegant reception for each of the more than 150 seats, ideal for those who want to enjoy authentic food. The extensive menu is prepared by chef Enzo Banks. The cheese is imported from Italy, but it's not the only food on offer. There are also traditional antipasti, primi piatti (pastas), as well as main dishes, plus other mouthwatering innovations. And then there's the pizza.

Los Angeles-based Neapolitan chef Daniele Uditi is in charge of the pizza menu, and this "pizza alchemist" is somewhat of a celebrity at the Los Angeles branch. "The secret is the dough — 65% stone-ground flour and 35% whole wheat flour, leavened over 48 hours," he says. It's all in accordance with the Slow Food Movement: "good-clean-fair."

During Boggia's 10 years at the company, they have revamped their image to "reinforce the Italian-ness" — notably the change of spelling, from Obikà to Obicà, which, in Neapolitan dialect, means "here it is."

The Flatiron District is increasingly multifaceted, by day a hectic area of office workers and by night a worldly area with good taste. But, above all, it's becoming more and more Italian.

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"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

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