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Ham and other small plates on a table.
Prosciutto and other items from Torrisi.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

14 Standout Spots in Nolita

Restaurants dishing up Thai, Indonesian, and Italian flavors anchor this diminutive neighborhood

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Prosciutto and other items from Torrisi.
| Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Wedged between Soho’s retail stretches and tourist-clogged Little Italy lies Nolita. Home to dozens of quaint restaurants and twee boutiques, there are an impressive array of worthy meals to be found here, mostly in charming digs housed in narrow tenement storefronts.

The neighborhood seems to have weathered the pandemic well, with old-school places like Emilio’s Ballato sidling up to newcomer Torrisi around the corner, or Lovely Day for Thai not far from Indonesian go-to Wayan. Check out these standout spots below, wedged into the pint-sized neighborhood.

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The compact restaurant from chef Ignacio Mattos and beverage director Thomas Carter has gained plenty of accolades since it opened in 2013 in a living room-like space with a bar perfect for second dates up front. The small-plates Mediterranean menu includes lots of innovative, umami-packed creations, like beef tartare with sunchokes, and delicate ricotta dumplings with mushrooms and pecorino sardo. Also open at lunch.

An overhead photograph of bread covered in mussels and herbs.
Estela’s mussels escabeche toast.
Tuukka Koski/Estela

Emilio's Ballato

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First opened in 1956 by John Ballato, this thoroughly old-school Italian joint has been a celebrity fixture for years, feeding the likes of Rihanna, David Bowie, and Barack and Malia Obama. The vibe and chef-owner Emilio Vitolo’s personality are big draws, though the menu includes solid versions of classic, hearty pastas like tagliatelle Bolognese and linguine alle vongole. 

Photos and paintings hang on the wall of a white tablecloth Italian restaurant, Emilio’s Ballato.
The fusty interior of Emilio’s Ballato.
Eater NY

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant

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Torrisi first opened in 2010 as a sandwich shop by day and a prix-fixe restaurant at night before closing in 2015. In its comeback, much grander and now in the Puck Building, the menu has an Italian throughline, referencing the first restaurant from Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone, but also with curt nods to Vietnamese, Chinese, Jewish, and Jamaican dishes.

A glass plate with chopped liver and a side of crackers.
Chopped liver at Torrisi.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Tacombi

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Known for slinging tacos with barbacoa, crispy fish, and carnitas, in some really wonderful corn tortillas, Tacombi started out of a Volkswagen minibus in the Yucatán Peninsula in 2006. Tacombi touched down in Nolita in 2010, and the decade since has seen a steady expansion for the chain, which is now backed by Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer and has outposts in Williamsburg, Greenwich Village, the Upper West Side, and beyond.

A garage with a minibus parked, and tables all around it.
The original minibus dispenses tacos at the first Tacombi, in NoLita.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The Musket Room

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The Michelin-starred restaurant from chef Mary Attea and pastry chef Camari Mick offers a la carte fare and a tasting menu that starts at $125 (regular or vegetarian). Don’t miss the order-ahead cakes and sweets from Camari Mick; the pair has now partly decamped to their new bakery and restaurant restaurant Raf’s.

Raf’s chefs: Mary Attea, on savory, Camari Mick on sweets.
Mary Attea (left), on savory, Camari Mick on sweets.
Scott Semler/Eater NY

Wan Wan

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The group behind Kimika and Wayla have recently added Wan Wan, a stylish Thai and Chinese restaurant, to the fold. Bangkok-born chef Tom Naumsuwan has put together a menu of regional Thai dishes — including moo tod nam pla (fried pork belly glazed in fish sauce) and yum hoi (crispy scallop tempura).

A bowl of noodles and seafood with a lime wedge on the side.
Wan Wan comes from the team behind Manhattan restaurants Wayla and Kimika.
Andrew Bui/Wan Wan

Lovely Day

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The cash or Amex-only restaurant offers reasonably priced Thai dishes like chicken satay, coconut curry noodles, pineapple fried rice, and pad Thai. (There’s an ATM in the restaurant, should you need it.) There’s also a handful of non-Thai dishes on the menu like flank steak and a big salad, and the vibe is relaxing and casual — in keeping with the moniker.

Four Thai dishes including pad thai and summer rolls with peanut sauce.
A selection of dishes from Lovely Day.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Peasant

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The space currently owned by Marc Forgione is absolutely stunning with the back kitchen built by hand in what had long ago been a garage. In particular, the hearth stands out, and shapes a menu for which everything is cooked over fire: chicken, bread, and even oysters. One of the dishes on the menu is a suckling pig that must be ordered 24 hours in advance.

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

The younger generation of Vongerichtens, Ochi, a Jakarta native involved in everything from menu development to tableware, and her chef-husband Cédric, run a top-notch addition to the contemporary Southeast Asian scene at their Indonesian restaurant, balancing flavors with aplomb. The name means first-born, with its smaller sibling, Ma-Dé, now open two doors down.

Lobster noodles at Wayan get pulled up from a white bowl.
The lobster noodles at Wayan.
Gary He/Eater NY

La Esquina

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Count on tacos with fillings like sliced rib-eye, grilled mahi mahi, and seared cauliflower, plus dishes like quesadillas, tortilla soup, and grilled corn, from this compact corner taqueria. In the downstairs brasserie, there’s an expanded menu — queso fundido, a shrimp BLT, various ceviches and tostadas, and more — along with a full bar in the brick-walled space, accented with colorful mismatched chairs, lots of candles, and antiques.

A battered restaurants, La Esquina, is photographed on a street corner.
La Esquina stays open late.
La Equina

Parisi Bakery & Deli

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Though the mothership bakery is kaput, this branch keeps churning out sandwiches on homemade bread, and a line still forms at lunchtime, especially for its hot heroes. Actually, the interior of the shop, which looks every year of its age of 120 — complete with antique cabinetry, white enamel walls, and condiments arrayed for your perusal on the counter — is one of Little Italy’s prime tourist attractions.

A long sandwich with fried chicken, mozzarella, and pickled red peppers.
The chicken parm at Parisi.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pietro Nolita

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This relentlessly pink spot offers elaborate justifications for its sense of design, but at heart it’s a small and cozy Italian restaurant that specializes in fresh pastas. Most have predictable sauces, like cacio e pepe, pesto, and carbonara, but additional menu choices include all-day breakfast, chicken paillard, and a hamburger, making this a relatively inexpensive spot for shoppers, especially those who relish a cocktail at lunch.

A pink bar with three stools.
The interior of Pietro Nolita is relentlessly pink.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Thai Diner

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Matt Danzer and Ann Redding, the owners of the now-closed Uncle Boons, opened this all-day spot with a collection of Thai American dishes that still manage to fall under the rubric of comfort fare, like a Southeast Asian take on stuffed cabbage and an eggy breakfast sandwich made with Isan sausage.

Stuffed cabbage from a Thai restaurant on a plate.
The stuffed cabbage at Thai Diner.
Gary He/Eater NY

Egg Shop

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Though unrelated to the Williamsburg institution Little Egg (formerly Egg), Egg Shop pursues a similar agenda. It’s open for breakfast and lunch seven days, and provides some pretty appealing outdoor seating on a quiet corner of Nolita just off Delancey. The place provides nine breakfast sandwiches, plus a breakfast burrito, and platters like Turkish eggs with garlic yogurt, fresh dill, and bright red chile oil. And if you like a cocktail at breakfast, this is your place.

A round sandwich with bacon, eggs, and cheese, and yolk running onto the plate.
Yes, there’s a BEC.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Estela

The compact restaurant from chef Ignacio Mattos and beverage director Thomas Carter has gained plenty of accolades since it opened in 2013 in a living room-like space with a bar perfect for second dates up front. The small-plates Mediterranean menu includes lots of innovative, umami-packed creations, like beef tartare with sunchokes, and delicate ricotta dumplings with mushrooms and pecorino sardo. Also open at lunch.

An overhead photograph of bread covered in mussels and herbs.
Estela’s mussels escabeche toast.
Tuukka Koski/Estela

Emilio's Ballato

First opened in 1956 by John Ballato, this thoroughly old-school Italian joint has been a celebrity fixture for years, feeding the likes of Rihanna, David Bowie, and Barack and Malia Obama. The vibe and chef-owner Emilio Vitolo’s personality are big draws, though the menu includes solid versions of classic, hearty pastas like tagliatelle Bolognese and linguine alle vongole. 

Photos and paintings hang on the wall of a white tablecloth Italian restaurant, Emilio’s Ballato.
The fusty interior of Emilio’s Ballato.
Eater NY

Torrisi Bar & Restaurant

Torrisi first opened in 2010 as a sandwich shop by day and a prix-fixe restaurant at night before closing in 2015. In its comeback, much grander and now in the Puck Building, the menu has an Italian throughline, referencing the first restaurant from Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone, but also with curt nods to Vietnamese, Chinese, Jewish, and Jamaican dishes.

A glass plate with chopped liver and a side of crackers.
Chopped liver at Torrisi.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Tacombi

Known for slinging tacos with barbacoa, crispy fish, and carnitas, in some really wonderful corn tortillas, Tacombi started out of a Volkswagen minibus in the Yucatán Peninsula in 2006. Tacombi touched down in Nolita in 2010, and the decade since has seen a steady expansion for the chain, which is now backed by Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer and has outposts in Williamsburg, Greenwich Village, the Upper West Side, and beyond.

A garage with a minibus parked, and tables all around it.
The original minibus dispenses tacos at the first Tacombi, in NoLita.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The Musket Room

The Michelin-starred restaurant from chef Mary Attea and pastry chef Camari Mick offers a la carte fare and a tasting menu that starts at $125 (regular or vegetarian). Don’t miss the order-ahead cakes and sweets from Camari Mick; the pair has now partly decamped to their new bakery and restaurant restaurant Raf’s.

Raf’s chefs: Mary Attea, on savory, Camari Mick on sweets.
Mary Attea (left), on savory, Camari Mick on sweets.
Scott Semler/Eater NY

Wan Wan

The group behind Kimika and Wayla have recently added Wan Wan, a stylish Thai and Chinese restaurant, to the fold. Bangkok-born chef Tom Naumsuwan has put together a menu of regional Thai dishes — including moo tod nam pla (fried pork belly glazed in fish sauce) and yum hoi (crispy scallop tempura).

A bowl of noodles and seafood with a lime wedge on the side.
Wan Wan comes from the team behind Manhattan restaurants Wayla and Kimika.
Andrew Bui/Wan Wan

Lovely Day

The cash or Amex-only restaurant offers reasonably priced Thai dishes like chicken satay, coconut curry noodles, pineapple fried rice, and pad Thai. (There’s an ATM in the restaurant, should you need it.) There’s also a handful of non-Thai dishes on the menu like flank steak and a big salad, and the vibe is relaxing and casual — in keeping with the moniker.

Four Thai dishes including pad thai and summer rolls with peanut sauce.
A selection of dishes from Lovely Day.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Peasant

The space currently owned by Marc Forgione is absolutely stunning with the back kitchen built by hand in what had long ago been a garage. In particular, the hearth stands out, and shapes a menu for which everything is cooked over fire: chicken, bread, and even oysters. One of the dishes on the menu is a suckling pig that must be ordered 24 hours in advance.

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

Wayan

The younger generation of Vongerichtens, Ochi, a Jakarta native involved in everything from menu development to tableware, and her chef-husband Cédric, run a top-notch addition to the contemporary Southeast Asian scene at their Indonesian restaurant, balancing flavors with aplomb. The name means first-born, with its smaller sibling, Ma-Dé, now open two doors down.

Lobster noodles at Wayan get pulled up from a white bowl.
The lobster noodles at Wayan.
Gary He/Eater NY

La Esquina

Count on tacos with fillings like sliced rib-eye, grilled mahi mahi, and seared cauliflower, plus dishes like quesadillas, tortilla soup, and grilled corn, from this compact corner taqueria. In the downstairs brasserie, there’s an expanded menu — queso fundido, a shrimp BLT, various ceviches and tostadas, and more — along with a full bar in the brick-walled space, accented with colorful mismatched chairs, lots of candles, and antiques.

A battered restaurants, La Esquina, is photographed on a street corner.
La Esquina stays open late.
La Equina

Parisi Bakery & Deli

Though the mothership bakery is kaput, this branch keeps churning out sandwiches on homemade bread, and a line still forms at lunchtime, especially for its hot heroes. Actually, the interior of the shop, which looks every year of its age of 120 — complete with antique cabinetry, white enamel walls, and condiments arrayed for your perusal on the counter — is one of Little Italy’s prime tourist attractions.

A long sandwich with fried chicken, mozzarella, and pickled red peppers.
The chicken parm at Parisi.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pietro Nolita

This relentlessly pink spot offers elaborate justifications for its sense of design, but at heart it’s a small and cozy Italian restaurant that specializes in fresh pastas. Most have predictable sauces, like cacio e pepe, pesto, and carbonara, but additional menu choices include all-day breakfast, chicken paillard, and a hamburger, making this a relatively inexpensive spot for shoppers, especially those who relish a cocktail at lunch.

A pink bar with three stools.
The interior of Pietro Nolita is relentlessly pink.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Thai Diner

Matt Danzer and Ann Redding, the owners of the now-closed Uncle Boons, opened this all-day spot with a collection of Thai American dishes that still manage to fall under the rubric of comfort fare, like a Southeast Asian take on stuffed cabbage and an eggy breakfast sandwich made with Isan sausage.

Stuffed cabbage from a Thai restaurant on a plate.
The stuffed cabbage at Thai Diner.
Gary He/Eater NY

Egg Shop

Though unrelated to the Williamsburg institution Little Egg (formerly Egg), Egg Shop pursues a similar agenda. It’s open for breakfast and lunch seven days, and provides some pretty appealing outdoor seating on a quiet corner of Nolita just off Delancey. The place provides nine breakfast sandwiches, plus a breakfast burrito, and platters like Turkish eggs with garlic yogurt, fresh dill, and bright red chile oil. And if you like a cocktail at breakfast, this is your place.

A round sandwich with bacon, eggs, and cheese, and yolk running onto the plate.
Yes, there’s a BEC.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

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