Of course, Little Italy is known for its traditional Italian fare, but for the best cheap eats in the area, you may want to broaden the ethnic scope. Fill up on an Asian-accented hot dog or gourmet felafel. Alternatively, grab a superior sub or a slice of pizza, or head to Chinatown.
RECOMMENDED: The best cheap eats in NYC
The Brooklyn Flea favorite has set up permanent digs for its beloved East-meets-West hot dogs. As at their pop-up stalls, owners Melanie Campbell and Stephen Porto give classic American junk food an artisanal Asian spin at this tiny takeout shop. Toppings like kimchi, Japanese curry and Asian sesame slaw finish off beef, chicken and veggie dogs tucked into soft buns. This location's expanded menu also includes a deep-fried Korean pancake corn dog, salads and yam fries.
Lingerers are welcome at this Parisian-style café, whether they’re outside smoking and sipping lattes or inside gossiping over salmon tartare in the cool blue- and orange-painted space. The clientele is almost too hip for an activity as mundane as eating. Too bad for them. The menu is full of appealing bites, such as merguez with raisin-and-pine-nut couscous, plus affordable beer and wine.
Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone started small with their first project together, a sandwich shop that opened in 2009, serving hoagies by day and tasting menus by night. But Torrisi Italian Specialties, that low-key debut, blew up in a flash, its inventive riffs on Italian-American classics catapulting the young chefs onto the national stage. Soon there were glossy magazine profiles, restaurant awards and long lines out the door. It wasn’t long before they outgrew their very small space. When your first restaurant goes platinum, all eyes are trained on your next project. Torrisi and Carbone unspooled theirs in two parts, turning their original venue into a serious restaurant (all tasting menus, all the time) and moving its casual half into the vacant spot next door. Parm, that new cozy annex, is the Italian-American deli the daytime Torrisi strived to be, with more sandwiches and sides, new starters and mains, and a full-service bar with house wines and cocktails. The decor pays kitschy homage to the old-school venues that inspired this cooking, with wallpaper from the 1950s, neon, Formica and red swivel barstools. But while the menu reads as well-worn as the space, the food is new and exciting, prepared by grease-spattered cooks in white paper caps who happen to have high-end restaurant résumés. (Torrisi and Carbone worked together at Café Boulud.) As at Torrisi, the co-owner chefs offer dramatic improvements on the food they grew up on, without sacrificing the integrity of th
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 fruit smoothies with dates, ginger and coconut milk. Pick up one of the house-made products, like spicy harissa and preserved lemons, which line the shelves of this location.