When it comes to Manhattan’s tourist traps, Little Italy has sadly earned a spot at the top of the list. The area saw its heyday in the early 1900s, when tens of thousands of Italians called these cobbled roads home. Since then, Chinatown has all but swallowed up the neighborhood, and tenement dwelling families have long been replaced with deep-pocketed professionals.
It also doesn’t help that the few remaining restaurants annoyingly troll for diners in the streets, and find themselves landlocked by gift shops on both sides. Fortunately, if you know exactly where to look, you can still experience a vestige of the old world nestled between the soggy pasta and commercialized cannoli.
Take Lombardi’s, for example. Sure, it’s a well-known tourist destination but unlike much of Little Italy, it’s earned its status for good reason. Established in 1905, it holds the title for the first pizzeria in the United States and makes a solid pie that’s beloved by New Yorkers and visitors alike.
And who can forget about dessert? Ferrara – America’s first espresso bar – also calls Little Italy home and has been dishing up sweet treats in the same Grand Street location since 1892. So while there may not be unlimited options for good eats along Mulberry Street, don’t let that dissuade you from giving the ones that are there a more-than-deserving chance.