On Mulberry Street in Manhattan, between Broome and Canal lies the home of all-things-Italian, or at least that once were spanning even larger and longer throughout the area before moving to the suburbs.
In the late 1800s, at the rise of European immigration in New York City, this area was home to a multitude of Southern Italians from Sicily and Naples. Many of them, not thinking of themselves as Italian, as they don’t speak Italian at the time, find themselves bonding over culinary commonalities.
For Italians, there was this idea that they would at some point ‘return home’ — also providing the rationale for not fully assimilating into American society. They did return, however, just to bring back their brides.
Will you come here and able no practice your Italian? — probably not, unless you cross paths with other Italians tourists.
They have to advertise their English speaking masses, as English and Vietnamese now, not English and Italian, poignant of the changing demographics.
The remnants of this rich and delectable history lie of course in this neighborhood, but also beyond where there isn’t as much red, green, and white — but the color is just as much shining through the pastries and sausages on the window.
Long live Italy in New York City.
PLACES OF INTEREST:
Pizza @ Lombardi’s
Keste -West Village- This is my personal favorite sit-down pizza place, with a chef/owner who is a Neapolitan pizza “maestro” — I can certainly taste the “master” in the pizza.
Patsy’s – only ever had it to go, but good god, I think this is my absolute favorite NYC pizza, #ever — great thin crust, mozzarella & basil combo
Johns Brick Oven -West Village- doors down from Keste — it usually has a line
Lombardi’s – Nolita – claims to be the first pizza shop in NYC. Certain Italian charm there that is able to transport you away from Manhattan and straight into a Trattoria in Italy — with a passion for Italian-Americans; Frank Sinatra is king here, along with the imported Birra Moretti, and red and white checkered table cloths. You can totes buy their olive oil for $12. Note: cash only, but there’s an ATM inside. Don’t come alone because the smallest pizza has 6 slices; I had to give mine away
Caffe Reggio – in the Village- claims to have brought over the first cappuccino from Italy, hence having the first cappuccino in NYC — very cool, antique atmosphere in there
La Lanterna – in the Village – just a few doors down from Cafe Reggio, this place offers a large menu of Italian snacks and food; there’s a winter garden in the back with beautiful lamps (hence the name) that will light up any cold gloomy day
D’Amico Coffee – Brooklyn –
La Bella Ferrara – Little Italy -Easter bread, Nutella, Turron
Ferrara -Little Italy- cannoli cream; gelato!
Carlo’s Bakery – Hoboken – because I’m biased towards New Jersey, but try their Canopus and stuff versus the cakes; I had my sweet 16 cake here (before they were famous and super expensive); I can attest to the better quality of their Italian pastries — i.e. cannoli and biscotti – versus the cakes which actually are the ones that they’re famous for
Il Laboratorio del Gelato -Lower East Side- SO cool, and futuristic, and my favorite ice cream store in NYC; it really looks like a lab!
M’o Il Gelato – Little Italy – authentic Italian gelato flavors
Eataly -Flatiron- grandfather of all things Italian-food-store in NYC, from pasta to gelato, breakfast cereals and biscotti — here, you’re in Italy, you’re home.
Mezetto – Lower East Side — Mediterranean/ Italian fusion restaurant
Forlini’s — never been but owned by the family of my college roommate Suzanne — perhaps the last Italian place left in that area of Chinatown
Caputo’s Fine Foods — Brooklyn
Espositos and Sons Pork Store — Brooklyn
Christmas Store – It’s always Christmas at this store in Little Italy!