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A sign that reads Grotto Azura, with tenements and a blue sky in the background.
Near the corner of Broome and Mulberry streets.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Where to Actually Eat Well in NYC’s Little Italy

Blow right past those aggressive salespeople to the legit good food

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Near the corner of Broome and Mulberry streets.
| Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Manhattan’s Little Italy is home to a seemingly endless collection of overpriced, wildly mediocre restaurants packed with tourists twirling spaghetti on their forks. Let’s face it: New Yorkers don’t often eat in Little Italy, a honkytonk stretch of Mulberry Street north of Canal dotted with restaurants where the red sauce often tastes like it might have been pumped from a single underground reservoir.

But in 1890, when over half of all Italians in New York City lived in Little Italy, the neighborhood extended much further, from East Houston to Chambers Street, and from Broadway to the Bowery. Do yourself a favor, and venture to the outer limits of the old neighborhood, where some of its best Italian restaurants still linger. Sadly, ancient courthouse favorite Forlini’s closed since the last edition of this map, but Little Italy still has plenty of dolce vida left. Here’s where to do the neighborhood right.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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1. Emilio's Ballato

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55 E Houston St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 274-8881
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Emilio’s is off the beaten path on the northernmost edge of Little Italy, on a shadowy stretch of Houston Street over which a statue of Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream looms. Inside, find a dining room hung with chandeliers and walls lined with framed photos, over which owner and chef Emilio Vitolo presides. Bowie was a regular, and a little shrine is dedicated to him, and you may spot other celebrities like Lenny Kravitz, Rihanna, or, at least on one occasion, Barack Obama. The food is fundamental in its simplicity. Start with the fried zucchini or the tripe marinara, then proceed to a plate of fresh tagliatelle alla Bolognese or the linguine with white clam sauce.

Photos and paintings hang on the wall of a white tablecloth Italian restaurant, Emilio’s Ballato.
The moody interior of Emilio’s Ballato suggests great age.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

2. Parm

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248 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 993-7189
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It’s no surprise that some of the best food in Little Italy can be had at its fresh-faced relative newcomers, some of which have garnered citywide reputations and become chains. At Parm, the sub shop from chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi, heros rule. The meatballs in meatball parm really melt in your mouth, and the eggplant version offers bottomless depths of flavor at this modern classic in the middle of old Little Italy.

A sandwich cut in half on a seeded roll with squished meatballs and tomato sauce inside.
Parm’s meatball parm hero.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

3. Rubirosa

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235 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 965-0500
Visit Website

For over a decade, Rubirosa has been the favorite family pizza destination of Eater staffers. Go early to secure a table and don’t miss the steamed artichoke or the sweet creamy vodka pizza. Gluten-free diners and large groups are especially pandered to here, and the place has some pedigree: the pies were at least partly inspired by super-thin-crust Joe & Pat’s in Staten Island, with a branch in the East Village.

A dining room seen at a tilt with people standing and seated and laughing.
The tumultuous dining room at Rubirosa.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

4. Peasant

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194 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 965-9511
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Founded in 1999, Peasant was one of the first Italian restaurants in town to prepare most of its menu in a wood-fired oven, which is a magnificent sight to behold in the restaurant. From it fly chickens, whole fish, Italian American classic braciole (a stuffed and rolled veal roast), and even a whole pig, which must be ordered in advance. Originally founded by chef Frank DeCarlo, he was replaced by Marc Forgione a few years ago, and there’s a newer wine bar in the basement for more informal dining and drinking.

A brick lined oven with wood fire with pigs on a spit roast.
The wood-burning oven at Peasant.
Michael Condran/Peasant

5. Lombardi's

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32 Spring St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 941-7994
Visit Website

Lombardi’s was, quite simply, the place where modern pizza as we know it was invented. Gennaro Lombardi opened this pizzeria in 1905 (the original was further down Spring Street), using a coal oven to bake his large, profusely topped pies, leagues different from the tinier, barer, and damper pizzas back in Napoli. Consider Lombrardi’s clam pie, every bit as good as those at Frank Pepe’s in New Haven. The 16-inch pizza arrives blanketed in tiny bellies, with a lemon propped at its center. Coated in olive oil, the thin crust provides a crunchy, blank canvas for the garlicky, parsley-flecked mollusks.

Four red shirted and white capped employs bend every which way to make the pizzas.
The pizza makers at work in Lombardi’s kitchen.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

6. Pasquale Jones

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Read Review |
187 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10012

The pizza is good at this younger sibling of Charlie Bird, under the direction of chef Ryan Hardy. Some go in unexpected directions, such as the pea shoot pie with pecorino, or the Diavola, with both spicy salami and spicy provolone. There are some great apps, too, including chicken livers and hamachi crudo, which double as drinking snacks for a wine list more expensive and adventuresome than is usual for a pizzeria, making this as much a wine bar as a restaurant.

A chair, many wine glasses, and a whole pie littered with capers and clams.
The clam pie at Pasquale Jones.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

7. Alleva Dairy

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188 Grand St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 226-7990
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Founded in 1892, Alleva claims to be America’s oldest cheese shop. Sure you can get scintillatingly fresh mozzarella and ricotta there, plus a raft of other cheeses appreciated by southern Italians, but Alleva dispenses hero sandwiches, too, of massive girth and incorporating the shop’s own cheeses and cold cuts.

A green awning on a very old looking shop specializing in Italian dairy products.
This century-old cheese shop doubles as a home for massive hero sandwiches.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

8. Di Palo's Fine Foods

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200 Grand St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 226-1033

This fifth-generation Italian deli owned by Lou, Sal, and Marie Di Palo (one of them is likely to wait on you) opened in 1910 on Mott Street as a latticino, selling freshly made mozzarella and ricotta. Now it specializes in all manner of imported Italian products, especially cheeses and cold cuts. Brace yourself for a wait, though there’s great people watching, and generous samples as you finally transact. Mozzarella and ricotta are still made on the premises, or order some cold cuts and eat them in the nearby park. Next door, there’s a related wine shop, Enoteca Di Palo, and a wine bar, C. Di Palo.

A skin on bronze colored pork roast cut in thick slices.
Sliced porchetta at Di Palo.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

9. Ferrara Bakery

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195 Grand St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 226-6150
Visit Website

The hazelnut gelato here is ultra-creamy and uber-nutty, or choose from dozens of other flavors, all made in the back. Loaded down with Victorian glitz, the bakery has been doing things right since 1892. The cannoli have a snappy shell, putting the neighbors’ soggy ones to shame, and the sweet ricotta filling has plenty of chocolate chips and candied citrus mixed in. Got room for more? Crackle through the flaky waves of pastry that wrap the Bavarian cream in the luxurious Neapolitan classic, sfogliatelle, referred to by Italian Americans as “lobster tails.”

A pair of taco shaped pastries, one covered in chocolate, both with ricotta filling studded with chocolate chips.
Cannoli are a specialty of Ferrara Bakery.
Ferrara Bakery

10. Aunt Jake's

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149 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013
(646) 858-0470
Visit Website

Aunt Jake’s has retooled the idea of an Italian restaurant not only with a modern design, but with a menu centered on fresh pastas that allow the customer to mix and match a dozen noodle shapes and the same number of sauces. It’s impossible to go wrong with, say, tagliatelle and an eggy carbonara, or herbed four-cheese ravioli mantled with pesto. There’s gluten-free options, too, and the app list is longer and more varied than most, meaning you could make a satisfying meal of mushroom-laced rice balls or avocado and poached egg toast.

The bowls of pasta, including one at the bottom with a squid ink pasta.
A selection of pastas from Aunt Jake’s.
Aunt Jake’s

11. Umbertos Clam House

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132 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 431-7545
Visit Website

Back in 1972, crime boss Joey Gallo got himself gunned down here during dinner, thereby making Umberto’s famous for generations before the Sopranos. The key is to order anything with clams in it. The littlenecks on the half shell are fresh, clean, and ice-cold, and so are the ample martinis. Baked clams, linguine with white clam sauce, seafood marechiaro (an assortment in red sauce over pasta), and fried calamari with the hottest of the three sauces are further good choices.

A blue awninged restaurant with table outside in front.
Umberto’s Clam House is a Little Italy staple.
Umberto’s Clam House

12. Galioto's Delicatessen

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131 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 518-7046
Visit Website

Showing that Little Italy is not immune to modern notions, this rather normal-looking market deli — sporting racks of fresh fruits and vegetables inside — was reconceived by chef Mario Buccellati. It’s now gone completely vegan, where prepared foods and the usual slicing cheese and meats are concerned. Among Italian deli sandwiches, try the “meatball” parm or a New Orleans-style muffuletta, made with convincing fleshless surrogates standing in for ham, smoked provolone, and corned beef. For dessert there are zeppole, not unlike the ones available once a year outside the deli at the San Gennaro festival.

Some pretty convincing meatballs with squiggles of cheese in a focaccia with basil leaves.
The vegan meatball parm at Galioto’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

13. Il Cortile

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125 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 226-6060
Visit Website

This is the rare Little Italy restaurant that doesn’t also serve pizza, and offers a tad more elegance, which makes it a not-bad date spot — though the over-the-top decor may disturb some. You didn’t hear us say “skip the veal,” but anything emphasizing cheese makes better ordering. Get the schiacciata, a garlicky mozzarella tart dotted with sausage and artichoke, then finish off the meal with the ricotta cheese pie, which is admirably moist and flavorful.

Tables on a mosaic floor with a Roman statue of a draped woman in the foreground.
The dining room at Il Cortile shows off its Roman statuary.
Il Cortile

14. Capy Tres Leches Cake

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180 Hester St
New York, NY 10013
(646) 370-1050
Visit Website

Let’s say you’re tired of cannolis, rainbow cookies, gelato, and all the other dessert treats available on every block in Little Italy. There at the corner of Hester and Mulberry stands Capy, a Mexican chain bakery that specializes in dense and delicious tres leches cake, available by the slice with a variety of fruit toppings and not a little whipped cream. Many other cakes and cookies are also available from this top notch pan-Latin bakery.

A cartoon figure in a chef’s hat at left, at right a curving case filled with spotlit cakes.
The cake case beckons at Capy.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

15. Manero's of Mulberry

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113 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 961-6183
Visit Website

Named after the hero of Saturday Night Fever, Tony Manero (John Travolta), Manero’s is only three years old but already developed a reputation for some of the best brick-oven pizzas in the neighborhood, with a puffy and nicely browned crust. It’s also one of the only pizzerias that sell pies by the slice, so it’s possible to sample a few of its signature pies at once. Eggplant lasagna, fried artichokes, caesar salad, and “stuffies” — baked clams stuffed with seasoned breadcrumbs — are other menu highlights.

Three slices on white paper plates with various toppings.
Manero’s is one of few restaurants in Little Italy to sell pizza by the slice.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

1. Emilio's Ballato

55 E Houston St, New York, NY 10012
Photos and paintings hang on the wall of a white tablecloth Italian restaurant, Emilio’s Ballato.
The moody interior of Emilio’s Ballato suggests great age.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

Emilio’s is off the beaten path on the northernmost edge of Little Italy, on a shadowy stretch of Houston Street over which a statue of Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream looms. Inside, find a dining room hung with chandeliers and walls lined with framed photos, over which owner and chef Emilio Vitolo presides. Bowie was a regular, and a little shrine is dedicated to him, and you may spot other celebrities like Lenny Kravitz, Rihanna, or, at least on one occasion, Barack Obama. The food is fundamental in its simplicity. Start with the fried zucchini or the tripe marinara, then proceed to a plate of fresh tagliatelle alla Bolognese or the linguine with white clam sauce.

55 E Houston St
New York, NY 10012

2. Parm

248 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012
A sandwich cut in half on a seeded roll with squished meatballs and tomato sauce inside.
Parm’s meatball parm hero.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

It’s no surprise that some of the best food in Little Italy can be had at its fresh-faced relative newcomers, some of which have garnered citywide reputations and become chains. At Parm, the sub shop from chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi, heros rule. The meatballs in meatball parm really melt in your mouth, and the eggplant version offers bottomless depths of flavor at this modern classic in the middle of old Little Italy.

248 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10012

3. Rubirosa

235 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012
A dining room seen at a tilt with people standing and seated and laughing.
The tumultuous dining room at Rubirosa.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

For over a decade, Rubirosa has been the favorite family pizza destination of Eater staffers. Go early to secure a table and don’t miss the steamed artichoke or the sweet creamy vodka pizza. Gluten-free diners and large groups are especially pandered to here, and the place has some pedigree: the pies were at least partly inspired by super-thin-crust Joe & Pat’s in Staten Island, with a branch in the East Village.

235 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10012

4. Peasant

194 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012
A brick lined oven with wood fire with pigs on a spit roast.
The wood-burning oven at Peasant.
Michael Condran/Peasant

Founded in 1999, Peasant was one of the first Italian restaurants in town to prepare most of its menu in a wood-fired oven, which is a magnificent sight to behold in the restaurant. From it fly chickens, whole fish, Italian American classic braciole (a stuffed and rolled veal roast), and even a whole pig, which must be ordered in advance. Originally founded by chef Frank DeCarlo, he was replaced by Marc Forgione a few years ago, and there’s a newer wine bar in the basement for more informal dining and drinking.

194 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10012

5. Lombardi's

32 Spring St, New York, NY 10012
Four red shirted and white capped employs bend every which way to make the pizzas.
The pizza makers at work in Lombardi’s kitchen.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Lombardi’s was, quite simply, the place where modern pizza as we know it was invented. Gennaro Lombardi opened this pizzeria in 1905 (the original was further down Spring Street), using a coal oven to bake his large, profusely topped pies, leagues different from the tinier, barer, and damper pizzas back in Napoli. Consider Lombrardi’s clam pie, every bit as good as those at Frank Pepe’s in New Haven. The 16-inch pizza arrives blanketed in tiny bellies, with a lemon propped at its center. Coated in olive oil, the thin crust provides a crunchy, blank canvas for the garlicky, parsley-flecked mollusks.

32 Spring St
New York, NY 10012

6. Pasquale Jones

187 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012
Read Review |
A chair, many wine glasses, and a whole pie littered with capers and clams.
The clam pie at Pasquale Jones.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

The pizza is good at this younger sibling of Charlie Bird, under the direction of chef Ryan Hardy. Some go in unexpected directions, such as the pea shoot pie with pecorino, or the Diavola, with both spicy salami and spicy provolone. There are some great apps, too, including chicken livers and hamachi crudo, which double as drinking snacks for a wine list more expensive and adventuresome than is usual for a pizzeria, making this as much a wine bar as a restaurant.

187 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10012

7. Alleva Dairy

188 Grand St, New York, NY 10013
A green awning on a very old looking shop specializing in Italian dairy products.
This century-old cheese shop doubles as a home for massive hero sandwiches.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Founded in 1892, Alleva claims to be America’s oldest cheese shop. Sure you can get scintillatingly fresh mozzarella and ricotta there, plus a raft of other cheeses appreciated by southern Italians, but Alleva dispenses hero sandwiches, too, of massive girth and incorporating the shop’s own cheeses and cold cuts.

188 Grand St
New York, NY 10013

8. Di Palo's Fine Foods

200 Grand St, New York, NY 10013
A skin on bronze colored pork roast cut in thick slices.
Sliced porchetta at Di Palo.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This fifth-generation Italian deli owned by Lou, Sal, and Marie Di Palo (one of them is likely to wait on you) opened in 1910 on Mott Street as a latticino, selling freshly made mozzarella and ricotta. Now it specializes in all manner of imported Italian products, especially cheeses and cold cuts. Brace yourself for a wait, though there’s great people watching, and generous samples as you finally transact. Mozzarella and ricotta are still made on the premises, or order some cold cuts and eat them in the nearby park. Next door, there’s a related wine shop, Enoteca Di Palo, and a wine bar, C. Di Palo.

200 Grand St
New York, NY 10013

9. Ferrara Bakery

195 Grand St, New York, NY 10013
A pair of taco shaped pastries, one covered in chocolate, both with ricotta filling studded with chocolate chips.
Cannoli are a specialty of Ferrara Bakery.
Ferrara Bakery

The hazelnut gelato here is ultra-creamy and uber-nutty, or choose from dozens of other flavors, all made in the back. Loaded down with Victorian glitz, the bakery has been doing things right since 1892. The cannoli have a snappy shell, putting the neighbors’ soggy ones to shame, and the sweet ricotta filling has plenty of chocolate chips and candied citrus mixed in. Got room for more? Crackle through the flaky waves of pastry that wrap the Bavarian cream in the luxurious Neapolitan classic, sfogliatelle, referred to by Italian Americans as “lobster tails.”

195 Grand St
New York, NY 10013

10. Aunt Jake's

149 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013
The bowls of pasta, including one at the bottom with a squid ink pasta.
A selection of pastas from Aunt Jake’s.
Aunt Jake’s

Aunt Jake’s has retooled the idea of an Italian restaurant not only with a modern design, but with a menu centered on fresh pastas that allow the customer to mix and match a dozen noodle shapes and the same number of sauces. It’s impossible to go wrong with, say, tagliatelle and an eggy carbonara, or herbed four-cheese ravioli mantled with pesto. There’s gluten-free options, too, and the app list is longer and more varied than most, meaning you could make a satisfying meal of mushroom-laced rice balls or avocado and poached egg toast.

149 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013

11. Umbertos Clam House

132 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013
A blue awninged restaurant with table outside in front.
Umberto’s Clam House is a Little Italy staple.
Umberto’s Clam House

Back in 1972, crime boss Joey Gallo got himself gunned down here during dinner, thereby making Umberto’s famous for generations before the Sopranos. The key is to order anything with clams in it. The littlenecks on the half shell are fresh, clean, and ice-cold, and so are the ample martinis. Baked clams, linguine with white clam sauce, seafood marechiaro (an assortment in red sauce over pasta), and fried calamari with the hottest of the three sauces are further good choices.

132 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013

12. Galioto's Delicatessen

131 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013
Some pretty convincing meatballs with squiggles of cheese in a focaccia with basil leaves.
The vegan meatball parm at Galioto’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Showing that Little Italy is not immune to modern notions, this rather normal-looking market deli — sporting racks of fresh fruits and vegetables inside — was reconceived by chef Mario Buccellati. It’s now gone completely vegan, where prepared foods and the usual slicing cheese and meats are concerned. Among Italian deli sandwiches, try the “meatball” parm or a New Orleans-style muffuletta, made with convincing fleshless surrogates standing in for ham, smoked provolone, and corned beef. For dessert there are zeppole, not unlike the ones available once a year outside the deli at the San Gennaro festival.

131 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013

13. Il Cortile

125 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013
Tables on a mosaic floor with a Roman statue of a draped woman in the foreground.
The dining room at Il Cortile shows off its Roman statuary.
Il Cortile

This is the rare Little Italy restaurant that doesn’t also serve pizza, and offers a tad more elegance, which makes it a not-bad date spot — though the over-the-top decor may disturb some. You didn’t hear us say “skip the veal,” but anything emphasizing cheese makes better ordering. Get the schiacciata, a garlicky mozzarella tart dotted with sausage and artichoke, then finish off the meal with the ricotta cheese pie, which is admirably moist and flavorful.

125 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013

14. Capy Tres Leches Cake

180 Hester St, New York, NY 10013
A cartoon figure in a chef’s hat at left, at right a curving case filled with spotlit cakes.
The cake case beckons at Capy.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Let’s say you’re tired of cannolis, rainbow cookies, gelato, and all the other dessert treats available on every block in Little Italy. There at the corner of Hester and Mulberry stands Capy, a Mexican chain bakery that specializes in dense and delicious tres leches cake, available by the slice with a variety of fruit toppings and not a little whipped cream. Many other cakes and cookies are also available from this top notch pan-Latin bakery.

180 Hester St
New York, NY 10013

15. Manero's of Mulberry

113 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013
Three slices on white paper plates with various toppings.
Manero’s is one of few restaurants in Little Italy to sell pizza by the slice.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Named after the hero of Saturday Night Fever, Tony Manero (John Travolta), Manero’s is only three years old but already developed a reputation for some of the best brick-oven pizzas in the neighborhood, with a puffy and nicely browned crust. It’s also one of the only pizzerias that sell pies by the slice, so it’s possible to sample a few of its signature pies at once. Eggplant lasagna, fried artichokes, caesar salad, and “stuffies” — baked clams stuffed with seasoned breadcrumbs — are other menu highlights.

113 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013

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