Little Italy has changed dramatically since the days when it featured the highest concentration of Italian people in the city. While around half the residents of Little Italy were Italian in 1950, now that number is around 5 percent. Regardless of this change in demographics, Little Italy still has some of Manhattan’s best and oldest Italian restaurants, so it is worth a visit.
The neighborhood includes around three blocks on Mulberry Street to the south of Houston Street. Italians settled here in large numbers around the end of the 19th century. They lived in the tenement houses that still line the streets around this area.
Several of the restaurants in Little Italy were established at the beginning of the 20th century. Order a pie at Lombardi’s Pizza, the place considered to be the first pizzeria in America. Lombardi’s was established in 1905 and it has sold pizza ever since. Another restaurant, Angelo’s, has been around since 1902, making it one of the oldest Italian restaurants in the city.
It is not only the old restaurants that are worth visiting in Little Italy. Pellegrino’s was only established in the 1990s, but it is still one of the most popular and best-reviewed restaurants in the area.
If you are in New York during September, make sure you catch the San Gennaro festival in Little Italy. Lasting 11 days in the middle of the month, this religious festival closes down Mulberry Street. Buy food from street vendors and play carnival games alongside performing musicians. Watch professional eaters take on one of Italian cuisine’s richest foods in a world-famous cannoli-eating contest.
Little Italy is located just to the northwest of Chinatown. Reach it via the metro train or several different bus lines. A paid parking lot is available on Mulberry Street as well.