Since the late 19th-century, New York City's Little Italy has been an enclave for Italian immigrants, particularly those from Naples and Sicily. While the neighborhood has shrunk to a small radius surrounding Mulberry Street, it's still home to some excellent pizzerias and trattorias — if you know where to look. Avoid the tourist traps (because there are plenty of those) by grabbing a seat at one of these six straight-out-of-Italy restaurants.
Despite serving charcuterie plates piled with parma ham and provolone, as well as a number of homemade pasta dishes (they even craft gluten-free versions here), Rubirosa is best known for its pizzas, which still use a 50-year-old family recipe. Served thin, crisp, and dripping in red sauce, these slices are hard to beat in any New York City neighborhood. Try the signature Supreme with tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni, miniature meatballs, and roasted garlic.
With a list of former diners including President Barack Obama, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and Billy Joel, it’s almost surprising you can still snag a seat at this off-the-beaten-path red sauce joint. Don't be misled by the chandeliers and white tablecloths: the food here is decidedly unrestrained. Here, you'll find plates piled high with linguine and fresh clams, a tender veal Milanese with rigatoni Bolognese, and a plate of complimentary biscotti for dessert.
This old school Little Italy mainstay has been doling out exceptional seafood specialties, like scungilli with linguini or fried calamari since 1972. The regional liquors (housemade limoncello, grappa) and cocktails will indeed encourage you to eat too much.
One of the more contemporary restaurants in Little Italy, this 130-seat restaurant evokes the namesake Italian island (which is known for being a foodie's paradise) with colorful ceramic tiles and blue-and-white accents. Like Umberto's, the menu is focused on seafood plates with distinctly Mediterranean flavors. Start with codfish croquettes with marinated tomatoes before moving on to a frutti di mare with calamari, shrimp, mussels clams, and half a lobster.
Pasquale Jones isn't just a Little Italy standout — it's also one of the best restaurants for Italian cuisine in all of New York City. The menu puts an emphasis on wood-fired preparations, and the pizzas are a highlight. We're particularly fond of the white pie topped with littleneck clams and finished with a lemon and cream sauce and fresh bursts of parsley.
Di Palo Fine Foods
Another relic of Little Italy’s golden days, this centenarian market touts imported specialty groceries as well as homemade delicacies, like impossibly creamy orbs of mozzarella and fresh porchetta sandwiches.