Little Italy, but naturally, houses the best Italian restaurants of the city. It was fondly named by the Italian immigrants who marched their way into New York City in the 1800s.
My detour through Chinatown had worked up quite an appetite (despite the snacking) by the time I reached Di Palo’s Fine Foods (facebook.com/dipalofinefoods; open daily 9am6:30pm, Sunday until 4pm), a grocery store known for really good Italian cheese. Luckily for me, it encourages tastings. I sampled free cubes of various cheese offered to visitors, including Parmesan and Burrata. Meat lovers must also take back Di Palo’s Porchetta, a savoury, fatty, and moist boneless pork roast.
As I ventured further into the neighbourhood, I found quaint lanes decorated in colours of Italy’s flag. By now, a ravenous appetite had built up, taking me to the first eatery I saw here — a lucky find. The charming Rubirosa (rubirosanyc.com; open daily 11:30am-11pm, ThursdaySaturday until midnight) is located in NoLita or “North of Little Italy”, where I gorged on handmade spaghetti alla chitarra with meatballs that complemented my glass of Chardonnay from Silica. To please my sweet tooth, I skipped next door to the over 44-year-old Caffe Palermo
(caffepalermo.com; open daily 10:30am-23:30pm, Friday-Saturday until 12:30am), a little coffee shop on Mulberry Street. Its famous cannoli (a proud part of its logo) simply dissolved into my mouth on first bite; the cream filling oozed out of its fried tube shells and became one with my taste buds.
It isn’t all about food in Little Italy though. A leisurely stroll through the mural district (in an attempt to burn off the calories) was next on my list. Many street artists like Tristan Eaton, Blek Le Rat and Ron English have used Mulberry Street as their canvas to paint evocative graffiti. Look out for the well known artist Ron English’s green baby hulk, also known as “Temper Tot” — one of the highlights of Little Italy. Posing for a picture with this angry one, is a popular check-in to Little Italy on social media.