Little Italy is home to some of New York City’s best Italian food, lively street fairs and popular nightlife spots. Knowing what to expect from the neighborhoods should help you have an even more enjoyable time when you visit Little Italy.
Little Italy is a neighborhood in lower Manhattan that was named so for the mass immigration of Italians that settled in the area in the late 19th century. It was a hotspot for Italian restaurants, shops and dwelling. Back then the neighborhood operated as its own enclave within NYC where everyone spoke Italian, had their own customs and conducted their own separate finances.
Real estate prices started to rise in the 20th century and many residents moved to the outer boroughs, but the neighborhood is still home to dozens of Italian restaurants and plenty of cultural celebrations that locals and tourists take part in. It’s also the fictional home of the Corleone crime family in The Godfather movies!
Little Italy encompasses the area of lower Manhattan from Canal to Houston Streets between Lafayette and the Bowery. These days, the Italian presence is mostly centered around Mulberry and Mott streets, where you can find lots of ethnic pride and fantastic restaurants with outdoor seating that will make you feel like you’re in Rome.
The annual Feast of San Gennaro is one of the most popular neighborhood attractions. During the Feast, restaurant and shop owners open their doors while other food and drink makers take to the street with carts filled with authentic Italian treats.
Atmosphere of the Neighborhood
This is a boisterous neighborhood that is usually filled with sounds, scents and people. The restaurants have colorful awnings and tables outside in the warm weather. Waitstaff will try their best to tempt you inside to try some of their delicious homemade pastas and authentic Italian specialties. Check out some of the bakeries for a Cannoli, or visit a gelateria for the best gelato you’ll find outside of Italy. Just wandering around will give you a feel for the charm of the neighborhood.
If you’re heading to Little Italy, start in the afternoon so you can wander up Mulberry Street between Houston and Canal to get a real sense of what the different restaurants have to offer. Then loop back up on Mott Street where you’ll find a mix of Italian eateries and cafes alongside trendy shops and boutiques. The Bowery is famous for being an enclave for bohemian artists and writers back in the 60s, so you can find some historical spots to visit there as well!
You Will Fall in Love With…
It’s not just Italian food here! Though you will certainly be charmed by the mom-and-pop Italian spots with checkered tablecloths, you can also find funky New American cuisine, Bangkok street eats and much more in Little Italy! Spend a full day here so you can sample a different kinds of food before settling into a cozy table at one of the famous Italian restaurants for a bowl of pasta and a glass of Chianti.
How to Get Here
To get to Little Italy, you can take the B or D train to Grand Street, the N, Q, R, W, J, Z or 6 train to Canal Street or the F train to East Broadway. If you’re traveling by taxi, you can hop out at the corner of Mulberry and Houston to start your tour of the area!