Litte Italy has been taken over bit by bit in recent years by Chinatown, which is expanding. The Italian influence also diminishes because the original inhabitants move to other Italian neighborhoods. Fortunately, the heart of Little Italy is still beating if you take the time to experience it by slowly strolling through the streets.
Italian Shops and Restaurants
Little Italy is pretty much in between SoHo and Chinatown. New Yorkers like to give areas nice names (I have sometimes been told that the brokers are particularly good at this, because a neighborhood suddenly sounds chic / hip) and that is how the upper part of Little Italy is called NoLita; North Little Italy. You still have the real Italian shops and restaurants on Grand and Mulberry Street. It is usually not really cheap, but the quality is generally reasonable.
Eating and drinking in Little Italy
Umberto’s Clam House on 132 Mulberry Street is a beautiful Mafia tent. At their old address, 2 blocks away, the mobster Joe Gallo was shot dead in 1972, while he was enjoying his fish. That will most likely not happen to you; it has become a very safe neighborhood, almost boring. Go to the Mulberry Street Bar at 176 Mulberry Street. It looks a bit crazy, but after all, you are looking for that in Little Italy. The Soprano’s also used this tent.
If you want to get to know the neighborhood better, try a guided walking tour. This also goes through SoHo and Chinatown and gives a very good picture of the area. The local guide will be able to tell you everything about the history of these neighborhoods. This tour starts at Spring Street in SoHo and then goes to Little Italy and Chinatown. Book your tickets here.
Ferrara Bakery & Café
Last but certainly not least, you really can’t beat Ferrara’s for desserts. Their cannoli is simply top notch and they are an absolute must when you visit Little Italy. They are probably one of the most renowned and popular food spots in Little Italy. It will only take you one visit to see why this is a great dessert spot.
Operated by the fifth generation of the Ferrara family, this business originally opened in 1892 to satiate the local Italians need for espresso coffee and cakes. Due to the rampant demand they often baked two, three and sometimes four times a day, and thus became renowned for freshness. Worth a look inside, as the glorious décor has been very little altered over time.
195 Grand Street, between Mulberry & Mott St.