The year-old Turnstyle Underground Market has done the impossible. Housed inside the 59th St.-Columbus Circle subway station, a stop along the B train and other lines, the market made eating inside a train station something to look forward to. Managed by Urbanspace, the two-block long mall has plenty of cool (and clean) seating and great food vendors like these three.
Good bread is a beacon at Casa Toscana, whose Tuscan owners import their stone-milled flour and their attention to detail directly from their homeland.
The focus here is mainly on rectangular Italian flatbreads that strike the perfect balance between soft and light and chewy and rustic. You can choose to have them either piled with toppings for $ 9.64 (try the Arezzo, with arugula, prosciutto, mozzarella, and parmesan), or split open into a panini for $ 8.73. Counterman Niccolo Orsolani is a fan of an Italy-meets-New York style panini — the word translates to “bread roll” or “sandwich” — with smoked salmon, burrata cheese, watercress, shallots and pink peppercorns.
Italy native Niccolo Orsolani can tell you where foods and ingredients are sourced from at Casa Toscana.
If you’re lucky enough to be served by Orsolani, who’s also from Italy, he’ll walk you through the sourcing for each item on the menu, including the Sicilian pistachios and Italian dairy in the gelato, another highlight at Casa Toscana. “I try to tell that to all our customers,” he says, “because I think it’s important to know where all our food is coming from.”
Casa Toscana: 1000 8th Ave. (underground), between 57th and 59th Sts.; (212) 247-9600
Doughnuts may not be a totally new innovation in subway station vending, but chances are you haven’t had them fried to order while you wait for the next train. That’s how it’s done at the 5-year-old, mini-doughnut plant called the Doughnuttery, which also has stalls in Chelsea Market and the basement of the Plaza Hotel.
The magic happens courtesy of the Lil’ Orbits automatic doughnut machine, a surprisingly compact set-up that manager Edward King calls “our hardest working employee.” A funnel drops just the right amount of batter to make a 2-inch cake doughnut into a little river of hot frying oil.
Doughnuttery offers a variety of mini doughnuts.
At the end of their journey, still-hot mini-doughnuts can be dunked into vanilla glaze, sprinkles, or nearly two dozen varieties of flavored sugar, from strawberry to green tea. Or just do as King wisely does, and have them straight-up, dunked in a little dulce de leche. Six mini doughnuts are $ 5.97.
Doughnuttery: 1000 8th Ave. (underground), between 57th and 59th Sts.; (212) 633-4359
A vegan, fast-casual mini-chain with four locations, Blossom Du Jour Express no doubt makes the meat-free who pass through Columbus Circle station very happy. But the nice thing about the shop for regulars is that it generally passes muster with their carnivorous companions, as well.
Wraps like the smoky avocado ($ 9) are loaded with layers of crispy and creamy textures and a chipotle aioli that’s instantly cravable. If the smoked tempeh bacon at its center won’t fool a meat-eater, it still delivers plenty of protein and umami, which is all you really need.
The smoky avocado wrap at Blossom Du Jour Express boasts vegan bacon.
Other hits for every kind of eater include spicy buffalo fried cauliflower bites. As a sandwich, they’re $ 9.50 with ranch dressing; as a side they’re $ 5.95 with Caesar dressing. And there are bowls ($ 11.75) you can fill with quinoa, kale, beet patties, turmeric-rice, avocado, beans and corn, plus countless other options that are currently trending at every corner salad bar in the city.
Blossom Du Jour Express: 1000 8th Ave. (underground), between 57th and 59th Sts.; (212) 765-6500