Little Italy NYC, an Insider’s Guide
February 20 2023
If you venture into Lower Manhattan, it won’t be long before you come across the quaint red and white checkered tablecloths, bustling, no-nonsense coffee shops, and some of the best bakeries in town – welcome to Little Italy.
Little Italy is considered one of the city’s most charming neighborhoods, and although the area is much smaller today than in the past, the quintessential Italian culture can still be found in the streets around Mulberry and Grand.
Looking for the best pizza in New York? With almost 2,000 pizzerias and pizza restaurants in the city, it can be hard to know where to start. Little Italy is home to plenty of pizzerias, including the oldest pizzeria in the city – and apparently, the first restaurant in the USA to ever serve pizza – Lombardi’s.
Da Nico, Gelso & Grand, Il Cortile, Puglia, Da Gennaro, and La Mela are all other great pizzerias in the area if you’re looking to try a few. If you’re still stuck, take the Little Italy Italian food tour, and explore the neighborhood’s best eats with a local expert (and a bunch of pizza, of course!).
There are dozens of restaurants in Little Italy and choosing the best one can quickly become overwhelming. If you’re looking for simple, honest Italian food – head away from the main area towards East Houston Street, where you will find Emilio’s Ballato. First opened in 1956, the restaurant, according to the New York Times, is like “Rao’s, but you can get in.”
The tucked-away restaurant was frequented by David Bowie and is thought to have hosted Rihanna and Barrack Obama on occasion. The restaurant is now owned by the Vitolo Family, and Emilio Vitolo – a lifelong chef – promises to bring flavors of Napoli to your plate in New York.
Caffe Roma is a small coffee shop in Little Italy that has been open since 1981 and is one of the most authentic coffee shops in the area. With a small outdoor seating area and a vintage Italian-style interior, the coffee shop is also a popular bakery and stays open till late for that after-dinner coffee fix.
The Ferrara Bakery in Little Italy is one of the oldest Italian bakeries in the city. Run by the same family for over 120 years, the small bakery first opened its doors in 1892 and offers over 200 Italian treats and specialties. While the selection is huge, the bakery is best known for its world-famous cannoli – something that shouldn’t be missed.
Di Palo’s is a cheese lover’s heaven. Opened over 100 years ago by the same family who currently runs the shop, the small store is home to some of the best Italian produce in the city. One of the family members – Lou Di Palo – travels back to Italy every year, choosing the very best meats, cheeses, wines, and oils to bring back for the people of New York.
If you’re visiting New York this spring, the Hotel Beacon is located in the heart of the city. Learn more about our apartment-style suites on the Upper East Side.