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Mozzarella Bar Offers Tastes of Imported Italian Cheeses in Flatiron

FLATIRON — Mozzarella imported from Italy will be the centerpiece of a new Italian restaurant opening in Flatiron next week.

Global chain Obicá, formerly known as Obiká, is launching a sprawling flagship at 928 Broadway near 21st Street with a menu highlighting four unique varieties of mozzarella, which will be flown in from southern Italy twice a week.

A mozzarella bar in the back of the 120-seat restaurant will offer tastings devoted to the cheese as well as pairing platters.

The menu includes bufala classica, which is made from buffalo milk and is relatively low fat, along with a richer burrata, made with cow's milk and layered in heavy cream. Other varieties include bufala affumicata (smoked bufala) and burrata al tartufo (burrata infused with black truffles and truffle oil).

“The burrata is very tasty, mild, soft and of course more fat,” said Raimondo Boggia, the CEO of Obicá in the United States. “The classica is not so fat. You can eat it every day and not have to worry about the calories.”

The 6,800-square-foot restaurant, opening July 24, will also feature an open pizza station with a stone dome oven, where diners can watch their dinner cook.

“We wanted to express all of the different characteristics of the southern region of Italy,” Boggia said. “We have a more varied menu than you’ll find in other locations — especially in the pasta and the main course area.”

The seasonal Italian entrees, which range in price from $8 to $39, include duck ragu made with rosemary pasta, bone-in breaded veal and black cod with chickpea puree. All breads and focaccia are made in-house.

“The veal is done exactly like they do in the center of Milan, as they’ve been doing it for the past 300 years,” Boggia said.

The front of the restaurant will have a sleek bar, offering 170 Italian wines, plus cocktails and appetizers.

“The style of the furniture is very contemporary, very lean — with wood, glass, red tile and mirrors,” Boggia said.

The restaurant chain was founded in Rome in 2004 and has since opened 20 locations all over the world, including Los Angeles, London, Tokyo and Dubai. It has just one other spot in New York, a small kiosk in the IBM building at 590 Madison Ave., which opened in 2008.

The chain is in the process of changing the spelling of its name from Obiká to Obicá, which means “Here it is” in Naples. The word is spelled with a "c" in Italian, but the restaurant initially spelled it with a "k" and is now switching back to the true spelling, Boggia said. The change will begin at the Flatiron location, and then it will roll out in the other locations by the end of August.

“Flatiron is such a historic icon,” said Boggia. “It’s a typical location that Obicá likes. We are in a landmarked building. In 1885, when it was first built, it was one of the first exchange buffet cafes, a lunch place only for men at the time.

"It’s a very historical building," he continued. "It’s just one example of how we have one foot in the future and one foot in tradition.”