Little Italy neighborhood guide

Go for the pasta but stick around for more incredible things to do in Little Italy like the Feast of San Gennaro

Little Italy
Photograph: Shutterstock

What’s the deal with Little Italy?
Little Italy fills every tourist's must-see list—its romantic, old New York atmosphere is world famous and its authentic pasta dishes, served by the best Italian restaurants, can't be beat. The once-Italian enclave stretched from Canal to Houston Streets, between Lafayette Street and the Bowery, as immigrants from Naples and Sicily flooded the area in the 1880s. Now, it's mostly on the blocks surrounding Mulberry Street, where some of the trendiest clothing stores and the best bars in NYC are located, but what's left is still going strong. 

If you only do one thing

Eat. Pull up a chair at one of the neighborhood's oldest restaurants (Lombardi's or Angelo's of Mulberry Street) to experience Little Italy in the best way—through its food. And finish off a hearty meal with a cannoli from Caffé Palermo.

Go off the beaten track

Don't just eat Italian food and think you're done. Check out theLittle Italy Street Art Project to see some impressive murals by a group of diverse artists. The initiative offers tours or you can go solo. 

On a sunny day
Take a historical walking tour to learn more about the neighborhood's history, its immigrant roots and how much of those roots still exist today. GPSMYCITY has a self-guided tour you can take right now.

On a rainy day

Shop its specialty stores (Di Palo's Fine Foods, Ferrara, and Alleva Dairy)

Get cultured

Check out the Italian American Museum's small permanent collection devoted to the history of Italian Americans.

Chill out

Grab a glass of wine at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, which has an approachable list of vin that’s complemented by chef Eric Bolyard’s “fringe France” cooking. Otherwise, head over to The Randolph at Broome, a 1,500-square-foot dive that serves classic cocktails (think rickeys and fizzes) and frozen boozy slushies.

Nearest subway stations
Canal Street

What else is nearby? 

Soho, a shopping enclave full of high-end boutiques and buzzworthy pop-up shops, as well as a sea of street vendors touting designer knockoffs in the form of sunglasses, handbags and scarves. Though many of the art galleries that made Soho New York a contemporary-art hot spot are gone, some excellent art spaces remain. Walk along the cobblestone streets and find great New York restaurants, bars and things to do in this downtown neighborhood.

The best of Little Italy

Five amazing secrets of Little Italy
Things to do

Five amazing secrets of Little Italy

You can live in New York for years and still not know everything about its vibrant neighborhoods.

Touristy spots in Little Italy that are actually good
Things to do

Touristy spots in Little Italy that are actually good

Think Little Italy is just an overrated tourist trap? Guess again—the nabe has some serious highlights!

The best things to do in Nolita and Little Italy
Things to do

The best things to do in Nolita and Little Italy

Drop below Houston to escape into one of Manhattan's most enchanted nabes

The best shops in Little Italy and Nolita
Shopping

The best shops in Little Italy and Nolita

Consult our list and head straight for these downtown stores, including jewelry and shoe stores and standout boutiques

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The Feast of San Gennaro 2020 guide
Things to do

The Feast of San Gennaro 2020 guide

Update: The Feast of San Gennaro 2020 has been canceled.  Out-of-towners and locals get psyched for the annual Feast of San Gennaro, and for good reason: the event includes the best spots in Little Italy. Eat at some of the best Italian restaurants in the city, watch colorful parades, catch free concerts and of course, see the world-famous cannoli eating competition.  RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best NYC events in September What is the Feast of San Gennaro? Although the Feast of San Gennaro is a celebration of faith (folks tip their hats to the Patron Saint of Naples, Italy) the festive atmosphere, delicious food and colorful processions are what it’s known for. For 11 days, Little Italy is transformed into a red, white and green bash with special guests, live music and a cannoli eating contest. When is the Feast of San Gennaro? The Feast of San Gennaro 2020 is canceled. The feast is usually runs for 11 days in September. But instead, while the official San Gennaro feast is canceled along with all festivals and fairs in New York, Gelso & Grand is throwing a San Gennaro-inspired feast in Little Italy this year. The pop-up roster is stacked with some of NYC’s favorite Italian restaurants, including Don Angie’s lasagna, Di Fara’s pizza slices, Regina Grocery’s arancini, Belle’s Cafe’s rainbow cookies and Morgenstern's spumoni ice cream. Where is the Feast of San Gennaro? The Feast of San Gennaro is located along Mulberry Street between Canal and Houston Streets. The festival stage is located on the corner of Grand and Motts Sts and features live entertainment starting at 7:30pm each night. What is the cannoli-eating contest? Brave contestants square off with mountains of cannolis from Ferrara Bakery. In depth on the Feast of San Gennaro: Every September since 1926, in honor of the patron saint of Naples, the air in Little Italy becomes thick with the scents of smoky sausage-and-pepper sandos and fried dough. More than a million people come to stroll the strip of vendors, enjoying Italia in the form of crispy cannoli and zeppole. After almost a century of practice, the feast’s merrymakers know how to party with food in hand. Baccalà dons the sash You can’t have a festival without a parade—and the Grand Procession is one heck of a parade. Grand Marshal Steve Schirripa (The Sopranos, Blue Bloods) will lead the festivities, which feature marching bands, floats, revelers and, most significantly, the statue of San Gennaro. Pilgrimage home As Little Italy has grown littler and less Italy-er, many Italian-American families have moved away from the neighborhood, but they still consider this fest a homecoming: You can always expect a massive showing of dedicated Staten Islanders returning to Manhattan to enjoy the provisions and work the stands with élan. Mangia! The most important question is also tricky to answer: Which vendor deserves the first bite? Lucy’s Palace, one of the most popular stalls, crafts worth-the-wait sausage-and-pepper sandwiches. Serving cheesy and meat-filled Italian egg rolls, Roll Up is not afraid of deep-frying its delights until super crispy. Alleva Dairy, the oldest cheese shop in the U.S., will provide eggplant, chicken and meatball parms for you to get your teeth around. Plus, swing by the cannoli king Caffé Palermo, which dishes out fried pastries and a unique almond-spun cheesecake cone. Eat, for sport Once you’re stuffed, why not marvel at some real pros as they shovel mountains of food down their throats? Swing by the inaugural Zeppole Eating Competition, sponsored by Danny on the Corner, as well as the fifth annual Meatball Eating Competition and the 22nd annual Cannoli Eating Competition, which takes place at Ferrara Bakery. If you fancy yourself a cannoli aficionado and still have room for a lot of dessert, that contest is open to the public.  

The best restaurants to celebrate The Feast of San Gennaro
Restaurants

The best restaurants to celebrate The Feast of San Gennaro

At Little Italy's annual Feast of San Gennaro, take a bite of the world's biggest cannoli and eat some really great pasta