"Bambino, are you lost? I take a you back a to my casa and give a you a good a food a ok?"
OK, well it didnt necessarily work out like that.....but nobody needs to know the truth do they? It was actually a girl, around my age I think who saw Charles and I discussing where Little Italy could actually be...ha ha! It was plainly obvious where it was, but we didnt know in what direction next to walk to stay in it. So this girl asked us if she could help and she directed us to a great restaurant and then said that if we were wanting dessert afterwards, to head over to another place which do delicious cakes and ice cream! It was so nice of her to tell us this and something which i had already found to be a trait in the New Yorkers! You see in London, there is no way that people have the time of day to help tourists and you really feel lost sometimes, but here, in the Big Apple, it felt different. We had already been told what stop to get off on the subway by a drunk/tramp earlier on in the day, and we would yet have the pleasure of meeting someone who saved one of my shoes...(tell you in another section about that!).
So off we walked in the right direction looking at menus as we went trying to decide on what we wanted to eat and how much we wanted to pay. We arrived at the recommeded place but they specialised in pastas and Charles really wanted a pizza, but the waiter told us very enthusiastically where else we could go for a good pizza. My goodness, do these people have no loyalty to their restaurants we wondered? Well it soon became obvious when we appraoched the second place that it was actually co-run by the first one, so it all started to make sense now! They had a great deal going of $9.95 for a soup and main meal, so we 'indulged' ourselves....and it was actually really nice. But please remember that tax will then get added on top. 'Il Piccolo Buffalo' was its name.
Little Italy is a neighborhood in lower Manhattan, New York City, once known for its large population of Italians. Chinatown, has encroached on much of Little Italy and Mulberry Street between Broome and Canal Streets, is all that is left of the old Italian neighborhood. The street is lined with some two-dozen Italian restaurants popular with tourists, and seemingly very few locals.
The Feast of San Gennaro is a large street fair, lasting 11 days, in September along Mulberry Street. We find that it just gets too crowded, loud & the food isn't as good.
Il Palazzo at 151 Mulberry Street , is our favorite Italian Restaurant. We enjoy sitting at a table on the sidewalk on a nice day or inside the garden room. The service is impeccable, food consistently good and prices reasonable.
I'd heard from many people that Little Italy more or less was a tourist trap and that it was not worth the detour, but I was still curious to see it. I guess most people are disappointed to see how small Little Italy has become - most of the Italian families of old have now moved to different residential areas throughout the city, and what is now refered to as "Little Italy" is a small commercial strip punctuated by restaurants and souvenir shops. But still, having no expectations whatsoever, I did enjoy my short visit to "Lita" - I thought all the sidewalk terraces were quite charming, and we ended up going for an early dinner in one of the many restaurants located on Mulberry Street. It wasn't necessarily the best Italian meal I've ever had, but it was still quite good, not expensive at all, and the atmosphere of the place turned this into a really pleasant experience!
I had always thought of Little Italy as being a real area in New York, a neighbourhood with a unique Italian background and style... Well, it's not more than two streets (Mulberry and Grand Street) and these consist basically only of restaurants and now and then an Italian grocery store. Apparently, the restaurants are quite good and rather inexpensive - most guidebooks mention them somehow as a good place to get Italian food. I didn't try them, but I certainly will next time in New York.
When immigrants from Southern Italy came to New York, they found themselves in "dumbbell" apartments. These apartments were so close together that no sunlight ever reached the lower windows or back yards.
During the late 1800s over 40,000 people were crowded into this small 17-block area. Diseases, such as tuberculosis, were a part of daily life. Even with these hardships, the residents of Little Italy built a lively and colorful community with the sights, sounds, and flavors of their homeland.
The Italian population of New York City's "Little Italy" has dwindled to fewer than 5,000 residents. Chinatown has expanded and replaced many of the original "Little Italy" neighborhoods.
The Feast of San Gennaro (Fiesta di San Gennaro) is the most exciting annual event in the neighborhood, begining on September 19th and continuing for nine days. During this celebration, Mulberry Street is renamed Via San Gennaro and the shrines and relics of this saint are paraded through the streets. The crowds enjoy Italian foods of all types, as well as other ethnic dishes, and there is much singing and dancing.
For visitors who enjoy eating, the restaurants in Little Italy offer reasonably priced food in quiet and friendly surroundings.
Little Italy still has some charm and you will see wee old Italian American men with great mustaches walking around shopping and chatting while others try to get you into their diner for a pasta lunch or dinner but the entire area only consists of half of dozens streets/blocks and is being swallowed up by Chinatown. The heart of little Italy is Mulberry st near the park and the street reminded me of the gangster in Donnie Brasco (Lefty from Mulberry St) when he said ''I am known my friend, ask anybody about Lefty from Mulberry St'' so being a fan of gangster history, I had to make the journey to see the street. The area has a cool vibe and the fire hydrants are painted the colors of Italian flag after the World Cup victory. You can get anything from pasta dishes to cheap t shirts that say ''Are you talkin to me?'' and the whole place is good fun :)
Little Italy was once an ethnic enclave of great distinction arising from the great influx of Italian immigrants from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The neighborhood has now shrunk to a fraction of its former self. Generally boisterous and frolicsome as a race, the "Italian" in Little Italy is quiet and demur compared to the activity and commotion literally across the (Canal) street in Chinatown. There is no bright neon here or very little of it. You'll find no haggering in open air shops, and little in the way of trinkets or baubles or newsstands. What you will find is an ambiance of quiet culinary authenticity and a small dose of Mediterranean flair. The Italians have essentially moved away from the quarter. Chinese is spoken all around you before you enter Little Italy, where you'll almost have to enter a restaurant and listen carefully to hear Italian. The food generally is rich and wonderful as well as economical, and when coupled with the lively conversation between waiters in Italian the effect is magical.
I don't get out there often enough when I visit New York City, but LITTLE ITALY is always a great place to dine and reminisce about wonderful time spent in Italy.
Mulberry St. is the main strip with all the shops and restaurants..........truly reminds you of that little cobblestone street you dined at in Florence.....or Positano!
I don't have a particular favorite restaurant in this area, although there are quite a few "infamous" ones here that would be frequented by the local mobster clans. (so I've been told).
I just go there and base my choice on how good-looking the waiters are! Bellissimo!!!!
Little Italy is centered around Mulberry Street from Spring Street to Canal Street in Manhattan. The narrow streets are packed with New York's best Italian restaurants and cafes.
Major Sights in geographical order
Old St. Patrick's Cathedral (Prince Street & Mulberry Street)
Umberto's Clam House (Hester Street & Mulberry Street)
Bowery Savings Bank (130 Bowery at Grand)
Former Police Headquarters Building (Centre Street from Grand to Broome)
Fourteenth Ward Industrial School of the Children's Aid Society (256-58 Mott Street between Prince and Houston)
Pioneer Hotel (146-48 Bowery at Broome)
Puck Building (295-309 Lafayette Street)
We came there when teh famous San Gennaro Festival was held. There were street-markets and carnival stands with a lot of fun and delicious italian food!
It was a great experience for me to visit Little Italy, being Italian and all! We had some great food at La Nonna and I even snapped my picture with the conceirge! Little Italy has some great quirks about it. (Note: the fire hydrants and parking meters are painted with the Italian flag!) So cute!!
In the fall of 2008, the New York Times ran a lengthy account of the creation of the Italian American Museum at 155 Mulberry Street, the southwest corner of the intersection of Mulberry and Grand Streets, in Little Italy. I'm a New Yorker, but I finally got to visit it only last week. Although other posts declare that "Little Italy" is shrinking, the directors of this interesting museum plan to enlarge it. At present, the exhibit is limited to a corner former bank, the Stabile Bank, Francesco Stabile being the founder in 1885. When I visited, the suggested donation was $5. I spent an interesting 35 minutes viewing one video (10 minutes) and looking at the displays on several topics: currency, passports, bank papers, personal letters (one threatening harm), photos. In sum, it is a good exhibit, but limited. The staff was most knowledgeable, unlike many museums where the staff are mere guards. Phone 212-965-9000, but you may get only a recording. The museum is CLOSED Mondays and Tuesdays.
Just after the Chinese area, your enter in Little Italy. In fact, the main thing there is Italian Restaurant. In all the streets of Little Italy, 80% of the ground floors are Italian Restaurants.
Well, for Americans, an Italian restaurant is a romantic name for pizza and spaghetti fast food.
All the restaurants have a name to remind a place in Italy, but they serve the same food. I cannot say that I tasted food in all the restaurants, but I could read the menus in front of all the doors. Well, all the same.
The Little Italy of legend is fast disappearing - indeed, many would say it's already long gone. The area is shrinking, with Chinatown growing northwards, so that some streets have quite a mixture of Italian and Chinese names. And few Italians live in the area now, either: people commute downtown for work, but the most authentic Italian communities are elsewhere in the city, such as near Fordham university. Still, there's no denying the tourist appeal of Little Italy, and the narrow, bustling streets help perpetuate the image of a lively, slightly raucous area.
These days, the waiters hustling for business occasionally seem as numerous as the visitors, and finding a place to eat can be hit or miss. A lot of the restaurants serve the same fare, so just try to compete on price and pick a place that looks like it does good business.
Better yet, pop into several of the Italian stores, where you will still catch a sense of the old days, with people speaking Italian, buying magazines from the old country, or foods that you won't see your local supermarket. Best of all are the sandwich shops: take a place in line, pick out your hero, and they'll add salamis, cheeses, peppers and whatever you want, the whole thing drenched in olive oil and folded into a crusty roll. Find the nearest park and tuck into the very best that Little Italy has to offer!
I enjoyed walking through Little Italy and feeling the buzz with the Italian Americans.
But then perhaps it was the massage I had before hand in the street from a china man, which made me feel good.
New York its international !
Visit shops and restaurants.
Always try to impress you host in the restaurant that you speak a little Italian, i.e. learn right pronounciation of words like manicotti, pizza, or even when we are at it venti and sphagetti. : )