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Benvenuto! NYC’s Little Italy Neighborhood

March 6, 2020 | 5 min Read

Manhattan’s Little Italy is an iconic neighborhood synonymous with all things Italian. At one time, Little Italy was a thriving mega-neighborhood of around thirty blocks that stretched from East Houston to Chambers Street and all the way from Broadway to the Bowery. It was home to almost 10,000 Italian immigrants. According to an interview in New York with writer Bill Tonelli in the 1920s, Little Italy was akin to “an insular Neapolitan village with its own language, customs, and financial and cultural institutions.” Perhaps this cultural fascination is the reason why Little Italy is still to this day, so charming. Visitors come to observe the historical past of Italian immigrants and taste a bit of present-day Italy without leaving New York City. Today, however, Little Italy is greatly reduced in size from its heyday and includes a cluster of blocks on the Lower East Side. It is bordered by Tribeca and Soho on the west, Chinatown on the south, on the east by the Bowery and Lower East Side, and on the north by Nolita.

While it may have downsized, Little Italy is a thriving neighborhood with a strong cultural center and plenty to do. We’ve got a few suggestions on the perfect way to spend an afternoon in Little Italy.  

Lunch:
Emilio's Ballato

This restaurant is old-school Italian. Emilio’s Ballato doesn’t have a website nor does it take reservations. The walls are faded and covered with small gilded mirrors and framed photos of its celebrity clientele. Despite the restaurant’s famous following, Emilio Vitolo, the restaurant’s owner and chef, keeps things down to earth and homey. The food is spectacular in both its simplicity and flavor. The wine list is also famously good. Have lunch here and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped right into a Sophia Loren movie.

 

55 E Houston St

New York, NY 10012

(212) 274-8881

Rubirosa

If for any reason you can’t get a table at Emilio’s Ballato, try Rubirosa. Rubirosa is a family-run, Italian-American, neighborhood restaurant and pizzeria. Owner Aj Pappalardo, whose father had long owned a successful Italian restaurant, wanted to find his own way to express his love of Italian food. With Rubirosa he’s put his own spin on the 57-year old family recipes. In addition to their famously delicious pizza, the restaurant also offers Italian-American classics with house-made pasta. The long wooden bar and cozy tables line the space. This is the kind of place that you can settle into and catch up with friends over an outstanding chianti and a Funghi pizza. 

 

235 Mulberry St

New York, NY 10012

(212) 965-0500

https://www.rubirosanyc.com/

Coffee:
Ferrara Bakery

After lunch grab a coffee and maybe a pastry at Ferrara Bakery. Founded in 1892, the Ferrara Bakery has been making Italian gelatos and treats for over a decade— and you can taste the experience in its perfect recipes. The ricotta filling on the cannoli is rich without being overly sweet, and the housemade gelato is luscious without being weighty. Pair your dulce with an espresso macchiato as the Italians do.

 

195 Grand St

New York, NY 10013

(212) 226-6150

http://www.ferraranyc.com/

 

Shop: Shop:
Di Palo’s Fine Foods

After indulging at Ferrara’s stop by Di Palo’s Fine Foods for delicious treats to bring home to friends and family. In addition to the massive wheels of cheese, the sausages and hams hanging from the ceiling, and the deli cases full of deliciousness, Di Palo’s also sells items that will travel easily, such as beautifully wrapped Italian chocolates, cookies, and cakes.

 

200 Grand St

New York, NY 10013

212-226-1033

https://www.facebook.com/dipalofinefoods/

Studio Manhattan

For all things New York, check out this cool shop that is choc-full of New York paraphernalia. Everything from socks to bags to art prints, all bearing a New York image or logo of some type are available here. It’s the perfect stop off for inexpensive gifts to bring back to family and friends.

170 Mulberry Street

New York, NY 10013

https://www.studiomanhattan.com/

Visit:
Three Neighborhood Tour with Viator

If after shopping (and eating) you’ve still got a little energy and time to spend in Little Italy, check out a walking tour of the neighborhood to learn more about its history. Try the Three New York Neighborhoods tour, which is a visit through the interconnected neighborhoods of Little Italy, SoHo and Chinatown. You’ll learn about SoHo’s historic architecture, Little Italy’s mob past and Chinatown’s unique flavors, all in a few hours. This tour meets in the easily accessible Durate Square and last approximately two hours.

https://bit.ly/2x5NEAz

Staying in New York City – About The Lombardy Hotel

The Lombardy Hotel is just as iconic to Midtown Manhattan as many of the other historic and cultural attractions in the area. Not only are our rooms comfortable and tasteful, we provide amenities such as a full salon, coffee shop, and exercise room. We also host the American Cut Midtown steakhouse, perfect for a business lunch or dinner on a special occasion. We look forward to hosting you.

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