One of Urbani's taglines implies the shop's name is synonymous with truffles, and fans of the wild mushroom can find truffles presented in a variety of ways at the store's nearby West End Avenue location. Urbani's been open there since 2010, and it remains perhaps the best place near The Ashley to find truffle oil, truffle salt, truffle butter, truffle honey, and other truffle-inspired products.
Truffles themselves gained popularity with the rise of French cuisine in the 17th century, according to the Wikipedia article on truffles. They do grow naturally, and they're often hunted with trained dogs or with "truffle hogs." They can also be farmed, but the Wikipedia article notes that doing so is still a relative rarity.
Their pungent, distinctive flavor might be the primary draw for chefs: truffles are widely used in dishes like risotto, and truffle oil can be added to season a dish at the end. This list of ten uses for truffle oil from Eatlovesavor.com, for instance, suggests serving it on polenta or white pizza or even adding a touch of it to flavor popcorn! Want to try cooking with the mushroom itself? This link from Yummly.com gathers a number of interesting truffle recipes to try.
If you find a recipe you like, Urbani's likely to have the right truffle-ingredients on hand. Visit the store's website to find out more before visiting its Upper West Side location.
10 West End Avenue
New York, NY 10023