Sandwiched between Soho's retail rat race and notoriously late-night bars on the Lower East Side, it's a wonder this pocket-sized swath of land hasn't been absorbed by its boisterous neighbors. On the contrary, the four-block-wide neighborhood makes quite a distinct name for itself with vintage clothes shops, independent art galleries and top-tier dining. From the city's most trumped-up morning bagels to gut-sticking meatball sandwiches, here are the best restaurants to try in Little Italy and Nolita.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Little Italy and Nolita
Best Nolita and Little Italy restaurants
Gennaro Lombardi opened his shop in Soho in 1905—the first pizzeria in the U.S. It’s hard to vouch for how the pizzas tasted a century ago, but there’s more elbow room now after a renovation, if though there's less charm than in the old joint. Still, Lombardi’s continues to bake a hot contender for best pie.Read more
James Beard noms Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi opened their highly anticipated spin-off, Parm, next door to Torrisi Italian Specialties. The retro canteen took over sandwich operations (including meatball, chicken and eggplant parms) from the original restaurant, plus the pair offer refined takes on red-sauce classics (like chicken francese). Office lunchers can take a hero to go from the front takeout counter, while diners can settle into seats at the back for a full meal or opt for classic cocktails at the bar.Read more
Rebelle seamlessly blends East Side edge with sommelier sophistication. Thick as a hotel-drawer bible, the French-American wine list is a staggering 1,500-bottle selection. Helpful, handshaking bartenders are quick to guide you through the sizable tome, in between stirring oohs and aahs from the crowd every time they whip out one of the bar’s space-age Perlage pressure tombs (they keep opened bottles of bubbly, well, bubbly). Chef Daniel Eddy (formerly of seminal Parisian restaurant Spring) turns out brainy Gallic bar bites with vino in mind. (A more extensive food menu is available in the back dining room.)Read more
Chef Einat Admony and her husband, Stefan Nafziger, bring their wildly popular falafel to Nolita with this 17-seat outpost. The chickpea fritters come in three flavors: green (parsley and cilantro), red (roasted red peppers) and spicy harissa. New plates include a seasonally changing salad (such as chopped kale mixed with crispy shallots, pears and roasted almonds), plus an exotic slushy made with prickly pear and lemon. Pick up one of the house-made products, like spicy harissa and preserved lemons, which line the shelves of this location.Read more
At this dark-wood-paneled rathskeller, you’ll find tap wine and beer slushes and vintage Thai flatware carved from teak and brass. The stereo blares old Thai covers of ’70s American pop and rock. A kitschy postcard pinned to the check sports the image of a toothy ladyboy. And the kitchen has fine-dining muscle: Husband-and-wife team Matt Danzer and Ann Redding met while cooking at Per Se. Uncle Boons’s closest brethren may be Andy Ricker’s bicoastal constellation of cultish Thai restaurants under the Pok Pok umbrella. But unlike Ricker, who hews closely to recipes as found in the motherland, Danzer and Redding (who is from Thailand) have unburdened themselves with a close reading of tradition.Read more