Best Little Italy restaurants
This family-run restaurant helped usher in Mulberry Street's red-sauce revival, offering simple, thin-crust pizzas and classic red-sauce fare. Rubirosa's crisp yet pliable pies have a delicate char and a small ring of crackerlike crust around the edges. We've yet to go wrong with the no-frills vodka rendition, which boasts a layer of creamy, booze-spiked tomato sauce and a gooey patchwork of fresh mozzarella.
Gennario 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 not the charm of the old joint. Still, Lombardi’s continues to bake a hot contender for best pie.
Bari Musacchio—Rubirosa’s longtime general manager—tackles the old-fashioned boil-and-bake technique at this diner upgrade. Musacchio’s operation is, like in the olden days, small-batch and labor-intensive: Slow-rising dough rings are set on burlap-covered boards and given a spin in a rotating tray oven, resulting in springy-yet-crusty vehicles for spreads like beet-horseradish, cucumber-dill and wasabi-tobiko cream cheeses.
Displayed alongside the cannoli and carrot cakes, the cheesecake at this Little Italy icon strikes the requisite balance of sour and sweet, adding Italian touches like ricotta and candied citrus peels into the mix.
The team behind Chelsea's Eolo brings you a 130-seat shrine to the paradisiacal Isle of Capri, trimmed with blue-and-white accents, ceramic tiles and photos of 1960s icons Jackie Onassis and Valentino strolling the island's cobbled streets. The menu skews toward seafood-heavy fare such as salmon baked in a potato crust and a grigliata di pesce, with grilled shrimp, calamari and a half lobster over pasta.
Leave the crowded sidewalk tables to the people-watchers and sit inside with the dressed-up tourists and neighborhood residents. Terra-cotta-colored walls and flattering lighting give the dining room a Tuscan feel. The specials list is extensive; pay attention as the waiter struggles to remember it all, because you’ll likely be ordering from his recital. One recurring favorite is chicken breast stuffed with smoked salmon and hearts of palm. Grilled fingers of polenta get a well-seasoned tomato topping, and the linguine rustica is tossed in a rich tomato sauce with chewy slices of sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms.
Talk about a melting pot—French-Chinese husband-wife team Marc Kaczmarek and Mei Chau are dishing out traditional Malaysian to Little Italy. Chau (born to Chinese parents in Port Dickson, Malaysia) and her Parisian hubby reincarnate the East-meets-West vibe of their beloved Tribeca bistro, Franklin Station Cafe (shuttered in '08), at this bright, narrow restaurant. The teensy open kitchen supplies big portions of Malay homestyle fare including laksa, a spicy Peranakan noodle soup.
Family owned since 1910, this gastronamia represents all 20 regions of Italy with imports such as handmade cheeses, cured meats, olive oil and vinegar.
Branching out beyong vegan, this all-day Italian fast-casual joint serves simple pastas like spaghetti pomodoro or baccheri bolognese with beef and pancetta. The bright spot also serves Italian-leaning sandwiches and salads, along with an antipasto board.
Pasquale Jones, a sequel to Ryan Hardy, Grant Reynolds and Robert Bohr’s jaunty, wine-charged Soho spot Charlie Bird, is a touch warmer than neo-Italian brethren like Café Altro Paradiso. That might be due to Reynolds’s graciously priced wine list or to the actual glow emanating off a pair of wood-burning ovens in the nimble open kitchen, the promise of pizza within. Manned by San Francisco chef Tim Caspare, those roaring hearths produce one of the city’s best pies: the clam pizza, a char-puffed beauty covered in briny littlenecks, wilted rapini and a delicate garlicky cream.