There are many exciting things to do and see in New York City’s Little Italy. Little Italy refers to a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan that was once home to millions of Italian immigrants. Today, Little Italy is comprised to a four-block span. It is neighbored by Chinatown and Nolita.
Sophia Loren said it before it was a meme: “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti. Mulberry Street is the heart of New York City’s Little Italy and is where most of the restaurants and things to do are plopped. In 1890, the street was called Mulberry Bend and was referred to as “The foul core of New York slums,” by investigative journalist Jacob Riis. Now, Little Italy is a literal tourist trap, but don’t let that deter you. You can have some of the best Italian American foods to be had.
However, if you want to eat in New York City’s Little Italy, it’s best to do your homework. Read some reviews and make a reservation.
See below for ideas for you next venture into Little Italy. We hope you will be hungry.
Mangia, mangia, mangia !
Eat like a Gangsta
Umberto’s Clam House (132 Mulberry Street)
A Mobster was infamously killed at their original location back in 1972. They have put to rest their dark past and have continued their legacy of offering great seafood. Their clams or scungilli will get you in the mood to watch Martin Scorcese’s latest mafia hit, The Irishman. The venue is comfy and casual. Also, their seasonal side walk seating is perfect for people watching in New York City’s Little Italy.
Mambo like an Italian
Puglia (189 Hester St )
For your next squad outing head to Puglia. The one-hundred-year-old restaurant is full of old school Italian charm and food served family style. (You know when spaghetti is a side.) You’ll be happy that your table ordered off the prefix menu. You’ll be standing on chairs, waving napkins like everyone else in no time.
Choose your Own Pasta
Aunt Jake’s (149 Mulberry Street )
Aunt Jakes is a breath of fresh air in a contemporary ambiance with plenty of light. They have two Manhattan restaurant locations. Pasta is made daily and hipster’s love this venue for its choose your adventure where you get to choose your own pasta and sauce to go with. Their fettucine Nero made with black squid ink is Insta worthy and tasty. If reading this is making your jeans feel instantly tighter, then read our article for seven free workout apps.
Have Coffee and Dessert in Little Italy
Caffe Roma Pastry (176 Mulberry St )
Caffe Roma is New York City’s oldest Italian bakery and has been around in Little Italy since 1891. It has one of those original Italian neighborhood store signs with green, red, and white lettering from the 1970s. It was the hangout for the literati–writers, artists, musicians, actors. Grab a book and enjoy a cappuccino in an old-fashioned mug along with their tiramisu. The cakes are baked in-store daily.
Coffee is an integral part of the Italian culture. Interestingly, Italians on average drink 7-8 cups of coffee a day. Typically, the morning cup is a cappuccino, the afternoon is caffè macchiato, and dinner is followed by a shot of espresso. The coffee routine in Italy is sacred. There is only one Starbucks in the whole of Italy; it opened in 2018.
Italian Pastries Yes Please
Ferrara Bakery & Cafe (195 Grand St.)
Ferrara Bakery & Cafe is a definite tourist sweet spot. This bakery has been around since 1892. You might recognize their soft torrone candies, which are sold in super markets around the country.
Caffe Palermo (148 Mulberry Street)
Leave the gun. They have the best cannoli in town. The self-proclaimed “Cannoli King” has chocolate chip studded ricotta and they are enormous.
Go Shopping in Little Italy
E.Rossi & Company (193 Grand St)
If you are not in a food coma. There are great places for shopping trinkets. E.Rossi & Company has great gifts and trinkets like pasta machines, Nativity sets, and prayer cards You can also buy cigars at Mulberry Street Cigars if that is more your speed.
See Culture in Little Italy
Italian American Museum (155 Mulberry Street)
Learn all about the Italian American immigrant experience at the American Italian Heritage Museum. The museum is located on the inside of an old church, and oh yeah, it’s FREE. Also, make sure you peep the street graffiti in Little Italy. Tristan Eaton’s “Audrey Hepburn” on Mulberry is famous. There is also the “Baby Hulk” on Mulberry Street. New York City’s Little Italy is the first and only mural district organized by the nonprofit, The L.I.S.A Project NYC.
Go to the Markets
Di Palo’s Fine Foods (200 Grand St)
Di Palo’s is the most beloved market in Little Italy. The line is typically out the door, but once you get in, it is meat and cheese heaven. All of Italy is represented in Di Palo’s. The hand pulled Mozzarella is to die for. Just make sure when you order it, you pronounce it the correct way.
Party like an Italian
Put it on your bucket list now, because The Feast of San Gennaro rolls around every September. This New York City Little Italy festival has occurred every year, since 1929 to honor the patron Saint of Naples, San Gennaro. Millions of people flock to see the processions and enjoy the food vendors, which are on-going for about a week. There will be meatball and cannoli eating contests. In short, it’s a national celebration of the Italian American heritage and its tasty and fun AF.