a blog with cultural bulimia.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Rice to riches

This is one of my favorite places in NY - great design and great product. I have always wondered how profitable it could be, with its huge servings that were impossible to finish (although I have always managed to) and its packaging that you always wanted to take home. One of each color...
Was the rice pudding a front? Perhaps. Was the dessert a passion? Absolutely.

Yes, Peter Moceo Jr. was arrested earlier this month and charged with running a $22-million-a-year gambling ring in the New York area. The authorities are also investigating whether his food shop, Rice To Riches, in Little Italy in Manhattan, was used to launder some of the profits. The store remains open, and Mr. Moceo, through the lawyer who represented him at the arraignment, Raphael F. Scotto, denies a connection between the shop and the charges.

But there has always been something strange about the business on Spring Street. It seems too beautiful, too expensive an operation, given that it sells only coffee and 20 flavors of rice pudding. Beyond that beauty - the serving case with specially designed pudding bowls, the oval glass entryway sculptured like a grain of rice, the quirky flavors like Stubborn Banana and No Guts, No Carrot Cake - lies a tight-lipped tale.