Going to Little Italy in New York might be tempting for tourists looking for “authentic” Italian-American food, as Mulberry Street is surrounded by a plethora of subpar eateries competing with one another for whose “gravy” is redder, whose meatballs are bigger, and who can speak to tourists with the most outrageous fake Italian accent.
There are better options available if you’re in Little Italy and your stomach is grumbling. Some fantastic Italian eateries can be found if you know where to point your fork. It occasionally entails visiting some of the restaurants on nearby streets that were once part of Little Italy. After all, NoLIta stands for “Northern Little Italy,” not “North of Little Italy,” according to the Italian-American Museum.
Here are our recommendations for the best Italian restaurants in little Italy, New York City:
1. Di Palo’s
|Address||200 Grand St, New York, NY 10013, United States|
Di Palo’s, which opened in 1925, sells meats, cheese, sauces, and other delicacies from Italy. Before that dubious-sounding Italian megastore Eataly crossed the Atlantic and settled down in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, this food supplier was operating in Little Italy and offering the finest Italian products. It does so even today.
Get some juicy, tender porchetta, sandwiches that are loaded to the gills with meat, and antipasto salads at Di Palo’s (200 Grand Street and Mott Street).
2. Aunt Jake
|Address||1555 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028, United States|
|Hours||5:00 pm-9:30 pm|
Despite being right in the middle of Mulberry Street’s row and considered one the best restaurants in little Italy. Aunt Jake miraculously avoids the tacky decorations and the pushy sidewalk restaurant barkers that have infected so many other places.
The many handmade pastas, which are the specialty here, can be sampled in the chic environment. Particularly delicious dishes include the squid-ink bucatini and sweet potato gnocchi. The choices are unlimited because the restaurant allows customers to mix and match pasta shapes and sauces.
|Address||231 Mott St, New York, NY 10012, United|
|Hours||12:00 pm-11:00 pm|
Emporio is a one of the best restaurants in little Italy and a roman-accented restaurant with a menu of excellent pasta choices. It is located in NoLIta, or the northern, less tacky section of Little Italy, and offers dishes like rigatoni alla Norcina, a sausage-laced pasta dish from Umbria that is uncommon on this side of the Atlantic. Excellent thin-crust pizzas made in the Roman manner are also made by Emporio.
|Address||32 Spring St, New York, NY 10012, United States|
|Hours||12:00 pm-10:00 pm|
Lombardi’s, which claims to be the country’s first pizzeria, opened its doors in 1905 on the corner of Mott and Spring Streets, at a period when many Italian immigrants were leaving their home country in search of a better, more lucrative life in New York and elsewhere.
Here, the pizza is still really good. It’s flimsy. It is crunchy. It also has a zesty tomato sauce, just as a true New York pizza should. Use the free sprinkle of minced garlic that Lombardi’s offers to add to any pizza as a favor to yourself. It adds a more delectable zing.
|Website||Parm Italian Restaurants|
|Address||248 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012, United States|
|Hours||11:00 am–10:00 pm|
This Parm location was the first of what would eventually become a mini-chain, serving up surprise, surprise—chicken, meatball, and/or eggplant parm sandwiches. Parm was founded by chefs Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone, who have since gone on to build one of the best restaurants in little Italy. Empire that includes Dirty French, Santina, Sadelle’s, and ZZ Clam Bar, among others. They’re also quite good.
Additionally, they prepare some excellent renditions of traditional Italian-American pasta dishes like baked ziti and spaghetti with meatballs.
|Address||194 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012, United States|
|Hours||5:00 pm-9:30 pm, Sunday Closed|
Farmer Praised The Great Peasant, owned and operated by New York chef Marc Forgione, opened in 1999 and is known for its enormous wood-fired oven. Everything on the menu that goes into the oven is wonderful. Consider bone-marrow-infused wood-roasted oysters, fire-roasted scallops, succulent suckling pig, and unbelievably soft lamb chops.
7. Pasquale Jones
|Address||187 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012, United States|
|Hours||5:00 pm-9:30 pm|
The head chef at this fantastic pizza and pasta-focused restaurant is talented chef Ryan Hardy, a partner and chef at famed restaurants Charlie Bird and Legacy Records.
The amatriciana pasta dish at Pasquale Jones will transport your taste buds back to Rome, and the Neapolitan pies there are some of the greatest in the city. There is also a creamy, delectable beginning of chicken liver.
|Address||235 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012, United States|
|Hours||11:00 am-10:00 pm|
Since it debuted in 2010, Rubirosa, the best restaurant in little Italy on Mulberry Street’s northern end, has become a favorite among neighborhood residents. The former home of late chef Angelo Pappalardo, whose parents continue to own and operate the renowned Staten Island pizzeria Joe & Pats, Rubirosa specializes in delicious, crispy New York-style pizzas that are cooked up in gas.
Although pizza is the primary attraction at Rubirosa, there are also fantastic pasta variations including a meaty carbonara made with speck rather than the more usual guanciale, a big lasagne for two, and crunchy little fried rice balls.
If it wasn’t obvious, we take our Italian cuisine in New York very seriously. Join the best restaurants in little Italy, as we listed some of our favorite Italian restaurants in the entire city, if you want to get in on the fun.