New York is one of the top foodie cities in the U.S., but if you’re looking for a savory plate of homemade Italian food served with a side of history, then a bus trip to Little Italy may be just what you need. Located in Lower Manhattan, Little Italy is home to some of the oldest shops and eateries in the city, but it’s more than food that makes this spot special.
Originally spanning thirty blocks, Little Italy was home to the thousands of Italian immigrants that left their homeland to come to the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s. And though they came here for a new start, they brought with them many the culture, customs, and of course, the tastes of Italy.
Today, Little Italy takes up only three blocks – a fraction of what it once was. However, if it’s authentic cuisine and a touch of Italian history you’re after, then head to Grand and Mulberry Street. Once there, you’ll find hand-made dishes and delights that have spanned generations. Not sure where to stop? Here are a few of the favorites that are worth checking out.
Lombardi’s Pizza – 32 Spring Street
It’s hard to imagine the United States without pizza, but before the late 1890s, Americans, both old and new, lived a life free of what has now become a cheesy culinary staple. Though the true debut of pizza in the U.S. has been contested in recent years, legend has it that Gennaro
Lombardi and the aptly named Lombardi’s fueled our national love for this Italian delight.
Lore aside, Lombardi’s has endured the test of time. Today, the fabled pizza spot is still serving up its famous coal-oven baked pizzas as well as many other Italian favorites.
Mulberry Street Bar – 176 Mulberry Street
If you’re a fan of the HBO series The Sopranos, then you may be familiar with the interior of the Mulberry Street Bar, particularly the backroom, where Tony Soprano and his cohorts often conducted business. The Mulberry Street Bar, however, didn’t stumble into fame because of the mafia series. Instead, the establishment opened in 1908 and has been serving up cocktails and food for well over a hundred years.
In recent years, the bar has performed some renovations, but the old Italian charm remains. Post-update reviews have been positive and plenty of people who stop by to reminisce about an era gone by end up staying for and enjoying the food, Italian and otherwise.
Café Ferrara – 195 Grand Street
Café Ferrara opened its doors for the first time in 1892 as Enrico Scoppa and Antonio Ferrara strived to create the perfect spot for late-night opera fans to grab a cup of espresso and play some cards. But it wasn’t long before their efforts proved to bring in more than caffeine and opera lovers. Instead, with a menu of tasty Italian cookies and cakes, Ferrara became a legacy.
Today, Ferrara is still a family-owned cafe that has become a Little Italy staple. And if you’re in the area, you’ll want to add this as your post-dinner spot – though dessert before dinner never hurt anyone. Once there, you’ll have to choose from over 200 Italian specialties, but their cannoli, gelato, and espresso are true favorites. It’s not all about the sweets, however. The café has a brunch menu filled with savory plates, making it the perfect place to start your day.
Alleva Dairy – 188 Grand Street
A trip to Little Italy isn’t complete without a souvenir, but who needs t-shirts and mugs when you can bring home a wedge, brick, or ball of cheese from America’s oldest cheese shop.
Established in 1982, Alleva Dairy is another historic staple in Little Italy, and the sights and sound inside are still reminiscent of early New York. Authentic Italian cheeses, cured meats, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar line the shelves, deli cases, and even walls.
And, as if carefully selected Italian cheeses and meats weren’t enough to get visitors through the doors, you may even bump into Tony Danza, who co-owns the restaurant and has been known to hop behind the register from time to time.
Feast of San Gennaro
Little Italy is a great place to visit year-round, but if you really want to experience Little Italy at its height, then plan to visit during the Feast of San Gennaro, which takes place each year in mid-September.
The annual event started in 1926, as Neapolitan immigrants gathered to honor, San Gennaro of Naples, a celebrate martyr and the 4th Bishop of Benevento, Italy. Each year tens of thousands of people flock to Little Italy to take part in the 11-day event, which includes a grand procession and mass. Italian music and entertainment, tons of food, and even the occasional celebrity sighting.
Proceeds from the event support a variety of charities and organizations, including the Ronald McDonald House, Saint Jude’s Research Hospital, New York Foundation, Project Open Door, and several local schools.
Attractions Near Little Italy New York
Little Italy is a great place to spend the day, but if you’re looking to add some other New York attractions to your itinerary, then consider the following:
- Canal Street
- China Town
- Nolita (trendy neighborhood with plenty of shopping)
- The Basilica of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral
Taking a Bus to Little Italy
Little Italy, like many other favorite New York destinations, has a lot to offer, but that’s not always true when it comes to parking. When you take a bus Little Italy you get to spend more time touring and tasting and less time (and money) sitting in traffic or looking for parking. Plus, who wants to drive home after a long day of eating and drinking at some of New York’s oldest Italian restaurants and cafes?
When you take a Martz bus to Little Italy, we take care of the logistics so you can worry about where to find the best lasagna or the perfect slice of gabagool . You’re also free to explore some of the other great neighborhoods, including China Town, SoHo, Nolita, and Lower Manhattan.
Getting to Little Italy from the Port Authority
By Car: Little Italy spans three blocks of Mulberry Street, but if you want to start your door at the “Welcome to Little Italy Sign,” then you’ll want to head to take the ride service of your choice (Uber, Lyft, taxi, etc.) to the corner of Broome and Mulberry Streets. Travel time can vary based on traffic, but you can expect the trip to take about 20 mins.
By Subway: If you want the traditional New York experience, you can hop on the subway system. Exit the Porth Authority, and head southeast on W 40th St towards 8th Ave. Walk for about 7 mins (0.3 mi) until you see the Broadway & 40th Street subway station entrance to the Times Square – 42 St. Station.
From there, take the N, Q, R, or W line to Canal Street, exit the subway at the Broadway & Canal St. corner, and head northeast on Broadway, towards Howard Street. Turn right onto Grand Street and head straight until you arrive at Mulberry Street.
Chartering a Bus to Little Italy
Want to spend the day with family, roaming the streets where your ancestors once stood? Thinking of taking a trip to Little Italy with a school, organization, or other groups? Chartering a bus to Little Italy is a great way to take visit this historic gem without worrying about coordinating travel plans.
And, when you charter a bus to little Italy with Martz, you get to select your pickup location and your destination; that means we’ll pick you up in a location that’s convenient for your group and drop you off right in Little Italy. There’s no better way to tour the town.