- Christmas in NYC
- Things to Do
- Walking Tours
- Bus Tours
- Food Tours
- Bike Tours
- Tours en Español
- Private Tours
Thanks for visiting Free Tours by Foot New York!
This post covers the things to do and see in Little Italy in Lower Manhattan, including restaurants. It also reviews and compares the various guided tours available to you. We’ve created a self-guided tour and map of the historical, architectural and culinary highlights. You can move at your own pace, choose what sights are of interest to you and organize your time so you can explore and eat! The self-guided tour below takes about 1 hour, not including enjoying a full sit-down meal. If you want to take a guided tour and delve into history and culture of historic Little Italy, we offer three pay-what-you-wish tours that include Little Italy: our SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown Tour , our Downtown Manhattan 3-hour tour, and our New York in One Day Tour. Also listed are tours offered by other companies that have specific themes. Have a fabuloso time discovering Little Italy and be sure to mangia, mangia, mangia!
TIP: Little Italy is a popular tourist destination. This means that some activities and restaurants may be included in the various tourist passes available for purchase. They can save you quite a bit of money. To see if buying a pass is right for you, see our post New York City Attraction Passes. Since saving money on a vacation is always a good thing, use our Guide to NYC on a Budget a look at all the Free Things to Do in New York City.
WHERE IS LITTLE ITALY
This increasingly shrinking neighborhood centers around Mulberry Street between Canal Street and Broome Street on the north end. There are many ways to get to this small enclave. Below, we list the subway and bus lines that you could take. To get to the first stop on this self-guided tour, click on this link to get exact directions from your departure point.
By Bus: Take the M103 bus on Lexington Avenue down to Grand Street and walk west 3 blocks to Mulberry Street.
TIP: Conveniently, many hop-on, hop-off bus tours have stops at or near Little Italy. If you are thinking of taking a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, read our post comparing the different bus companies.
THINGS TO SEE
To get to the first stop on this self-guided tour, click on this link to get exact directions from your departure point.
When you exit the Canal Street Station, walk east along Canal Street 3 blocks to Mulberry Street and make a left. There is literally a welcome banner so you know you are in the right place!
This map is interactive. Click on the box icon on the right to open a larger view.
A – Church of the Most Precious Blood (109 Mulberry Street)
Founded by Southern Italian immigrants after they were shunned by Irish Roman Catholics, this church is also the center of the eleven-day San Gennaro Festival every September. (See below for more information on the festival as well as this small but special church).
The previous site of Umberto’s Clam House, an Italian seafood restaurant established in 1972 by the Ianniello family. Barely weeks after opening it was the location of one of the most infamous mafia hits in American history when mobster Joe Gallo stopped for a morning snack. He was spotted by a rival gangster, then hitmen arrived and shot him five times and Gallo stumbled out into the street where he died. Umberto’s reopened in 2000 at 132 Mulberry Street. TIP: Learn more about NYC’s organized crime history on our self-guided New York Mafia Tour.
C – Mulberry Street Cigars (140 Mulberry Street)
The previous location of the Hawaiian Moonlighters Social Club, a grey storefront that was a known hangout of John Gotti and his crew. Gotti was one of NYC’s most famous gangsters, renowned for his flamboyant lifestyle, and being a longtime leader of the Gambino crime family.
D – Di Palo (200 Grand Street)
The Di Palo family arrived in New York in 1903, as part of the mass Italian migration of that time. Savino Di Palo opened his first “latteria” (dairy store) in 1910. It’s still a family business, with the current owners making frequent trips back to Italy to seek out authentic tastes and traditional products.
E – Piemonte Ravioli (190 Grand Street)
Established in 1920, their extensive selection of fresh and dry pasta is no longer made onsite but comes for a factory in Woodside, Queens. Their signature ravioli is stuffed with everything from spinach and cheese to seafood, meats, and vegetables. The shop itself is housed in a Federal-style row house dating back to 1832, and home to Italian immigrants up until the 1970s.
F – Alleva Dairy (188 Grand Street)
The oldest cheese shop in America. Since 1892 Alleva Dairy has been an outpost for imported Italian cheeses, fresh mozzarella and ricotta, cured meats and Italian snacks including prosciutto stuffed peppers, rice balls and a variety of olives. Pina Alleva first opened the store after immigrating from Italy, and now the store is run by her great-grandson, Robert Alleva. Inside the store are the original tiles and unique tin ceiling, as well as antique glass signage.
G – Ferrara Bakery & Café (195 Grand Street)
Operated by the fifth generation of the Ferrara family, this business originally opened in 1892 to satiate the local Italians need for espresso coffee and cakes. Due to the rampant demand they often baked two, three and sometimes four times a day, and thus became renowned for freshness. Worth a look inside, as the glorious décor has been very little altered over time.
H – Italian American Museum & Former Site of Banca Stabile (189 Grand Street & 155 Mulberry Street)
For more than a hundred years the Banca Stabile played an integral role in the lives of newly arrived Italians and was known as the cornerstone of the Little Italy community. Independent until 1932, it was a link to relatives back home and offered services including banking, translations, mortgages, money-wiring, insurance and international travel. It’s now the site of the Italian American Museum, which opened in 2001 and is dedicated to remembering the struggles and achievements of Italian Americans. For more information, visit their website, www.italianamericanmuseum.org.
The oldest gun shop in New York City, it also claims to be the oldest in all of America. Founded in 1911, most of its customers are in law enforcement. Feel free to browse, but unless you’re American, you’ll have a lot of trouble making a purchase. The store did, however, get some heat in 2007 for selling to United Nations Diplomats from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
J – Onieals (174 Grand Street)
Apart from $1 oysters on Monday to Friday from 4 pm to 7 pm, Onieals is a restaurant and bar that’s known for featuring in Sex and the City, as the backdrop of the casually hip New York City bar “Scout”. Over the years it’s also been a brothel, speakeasy, and casino. During prohibition, there was even a tunnel built to connect it to the nearby Police Headquarters, enabling NYPD officers easy and discreet access to liquor and good times. Be sure to check out our self-guided tour of Sex and the City scenes in New York City.
K – Former NYPD Headquarters (240 Center Street)
The headquarters of the New York City Police Department from 1909 to 1973, this regal building was then vacant for over a decade, before being converted into luxury condominiums in 1988. The imposing design of this huge Beaux-Arts building was meant to give the police officers a sense of authority while intimidating the local petty criminals and mafia mobsters of Little Italy. From 1973 until the early 1990s, the building went unused. Then a real estate developer bought it and converted it into luxury apartments featuring high ceilings, ornate decor and lots of light. One apartment has a living room that was once an indoor basketball court for the police officers to play in. Previous tenants include supermodels Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista, tennis star Steffi Graf and actress Winona Ryder.
L – Mulberry Street
Little Italy originated as Mulberry Bend, which, back in 1890, investigative journalist Jacob Riis described as, “the foul core of New York’s slums”. At this time East Harlem had a larger Italian population. Then in the 1900s powerful members of the mafia operated out of Little Italy, and it has featured in multiple films including “The Godfather” and “Donnie Brasco”. Mulberry Street has long been considered the heart of Manhattan’s Little Italy, which over the decades has shrunken to only a few blocks to the north and south of the intersection with Grand Street. As recently as the 1990s the Genovese crime family boss Vincent “the Chin” Gigante took to walking the streets in a bathrobe and slippers while trying, ultimately unsuccessfully, to persuade the feds he was insane. According to mob experts, mafia and organized crime figures are seen dining in the area to this day.
Mulberry Street Art
The LISA project (Little Italy Street Art Crawl) is a non-profit organization that has brought a diverse group of street artists to Mulberry Street to create Manhattan’s first and only mural district. The multitude of artists exhibiting on the walls and other surfaces in the area include Tristan Eaton, Blek Le Rat and Ron English who’s best known for the bright green baby hulk known as “Temper Tot”.
If you are a Street Art fan or just want to learn more about this colorful form of expressive art, join one of our New York Street Art Tours.
M – Pomodoro Ristorante & Pizzeria (51 Spring Street)
The only restaurant in Little Italy that does pizza by the slice, the thin, doughy pizza from Pomodoro tastes best with few toppings and a simple sauce such as the “house special” vodka sauce.
N – Lombardi’s Pizza (32 Spring Street)
Gennaro Lombardi started this business in 1897 as a grocery store, then in 1905 received a license to open the first pizzeria in the United States. Still a family business and regarded as one of the top pizzerias’s in the country, their superheated coal-fired oven, one of the last in the city, provides a crispy crust with a delightfully soft center. Many top pizza makers received training here. www.firstpizza.com.
O – St Patrick’s Old Cathedral (263 Mulberry Street)
First opened 1815, this church the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York until the current Saint Patrick’s Cathedral opened in 1879. In 1836, the old cathedral was the subject of an attempted sacking, after tensions between Irish Catholics and anti-Catholics led to a number of riots. The Ancient Order of the Hibernians saved the church, cutting holes in its outer walls and defending against the rioters with muskets. In 1866 the structure was gutted by fire, and even though the new St. Patrick’s was already under construction, the old cathedral was restored. For fans of The Godfather trilogy, the famous baptism scene in The Godfather Part 1 was filmed as was the scene in The Godfather, Part III when Michael Corleone receives an honor from the church.
P – The Puck Building (295 Lafayette Street)
Constructed in two parts, the north in 1885-1886 and the south addition in 1892-1893, the building sports two gilded statues by sculptor Henry Baerer of Shakespeare’s character Puck from A Midsummer’s Night Dream. The building contains office space, apartments, and ballrooms. Once the home of Puck, the first successful humor magazine in the United States which ran from 1871 until 1918 and Spy, a satirical magazine that ran from 1986 to 1998, it has also housed several independent printing firms. This building was also the workplace of Grace, from the sitcom Will & Grace, and serves as the venue for a black-tie party in the 1991 Bret Easton Ellis novel American Psycho. Six loft-style penthouses have recently been added to the top of the building, ranging in price from $21 million to $60 million.
Q – NoLita
Deriving from “North of Little Italy” – an expression was first used by the New York Times in 1996, as the neighborhood saw an influx of yuppies and an explosion of expensive retail boutiques and trendy restaurants and bars. Previously, real estate agents had tried several different names to distinguish this area from its surrounds. Notable residents include actor Gabriel Byrne, singer/songwriter John Mayer, now deceased rock legend David Bowie, and Martin Scorsese, who was raised there back when it was still considered part of Little Italy.
Aunt Jake’s 151 Mulberry St. bet. Hester St. & Grand St. (646) 858-0470.
Hours: Daily, 11:00am – 11:00pm
This Italian cuisine spot welcomes diners to homemade pasta that you can actually watch them make. Your dish is customizable right down to the sauce- perfect for the pickier of eaters. The restaurant features indoor and outdoor dining in a communal style which really makes you feel right at home. There are terrific specialties to choose from including the Chicken Parmigiana and a gluten-free rigatoni. This casual spot is perfect for families and large groups of friends.
Benito One 174 Mulberry St. bet. Broome St. & Grand St. (212) 226-9171.
Hours: Daily, 11:00am – 10:00pm
Benito One has been a staple in the Little Italy district since opening its doors in 1968. The atmosphere is extremely intimate and cozy perfect for couples looking for a night out. Try the calamari or fried mozzarella as an appetizer and any of their veal specialties as an entrée. Having been in business for nearly 50 years, this eatery offers character you won’t find anywhere else.
Da Gennaro 129 Mulberry St. bet. Hester St. & Grand St. (212) 431-3934.
Hours: M-Thu/Sun, 10:00 am – 12:00 am. F-Sat, 10:00am – 1:00am
Da Gennaro features one of the best patios in the Little Italy area- perfect for summer nights dining out. The space is great at accommodating for large groups. While their pizza is regarded as some of the best in Little Italy the standout here is the Antipasto. Also noteworthy is the lobster soup and their Seafood Risotto. The atmosphere is very warm and is great for a family night out or intimate date night. (It’s also the site of one of the most famous mob murders in history. See below).
Gelso & Grand 186 Grand St. bet. Baxter St & Centre Market Pl. (212) 226-1600.
Hours: M-W, 11:30am – 12:00am. Thu/Sun, 11:30am – 1:00am. F/Sat, 11:30am – 2:00am
It can be a challenge to find a worthwhile Italian dining spot in a tourist-dominated area; Gelso & Grand is your solution. This neo-Italian restaurant known for its pistachio pesto pasta amongst many others strives to push what Mulberry St. was once all about- local produce and fresh ingredients. For dessert, “New York’s Largest Cannoli” is a stunning sweet the whole family can enjoy. Offering dining inside and out, Gelso and Grand is a worthwhile Italian cuisine experience.
Margherita NYC 197 Grand St. bet. Mulberry St. & Mott St. (212) 226-8391.
Hours: M, 1:00pm – 11:00pm. Tue-Sun, 12:00pm – 11:00pm
Using ingredients imported only from Italy; this NYC pizza spot is as authentic as it is hip. A casual dining experience featuring pasta, sandwiches, and pizzas, (the Margherita is an obvious must-try), this stop in Little Italy is great for anyone looking for good eats accompanied by a chill vibe. The mozzarella sticks are highly recommended as an appetizer and Quattro Formaggi for a filling entree. Stop in with a group of friends or for a quick bite and brew on their outdoor patio.
Oficina 1M 371 Broome St. bet. Mulberry St. & Mott St. (718) 431-3332.
Hours: Daily, 8:00am – 12:00am
Oficina 1M offers guests an intimate dining experience that hipsters are sure to appreciate. This place is a great spot to get away from the kids and enjoy a mellow atmosphere heightened by chill music and warm lighting. You’ll find an array of electrifying Italian cuisines, but the Tagliolini Al Prosciutto is an absolute must try. Other favorites include the Caprese di Pesche and Pesto Fettuccini. This trendy stop is great for groups and features an outside dining option as well.
Pellegrino’s Italian Restaurant 138 Mulberry St. bet. Hester St. & Grand St. (212) 226-3177.
Hours: M-Thu/Sun, 12:00pm – 10:00pm. F-Sat, 12:00pm – 11:00pm
The Gnocchi Napoletana is the must-have dish when visiting this traditional-Italian style restaurant. Other favorites include any variety of the gnocchi and tiramisu for dessert. This spot is perfect for families and large groups. The atmosphere is very communal and while it can get very crowded during peak hours it never feels uncomfortably so. There is a patio excellent for people watching during the warmer season.
Pepe Rosso Social 173 Mott St. bet. Broome St. & Grand St. (212) 219-0019.
Hours: M-F, 11:00am – 11:00pm. Sat-Sun, 10:00am – 11:00pm
Looking for an intimate and casual dining experience in the Little Italy area? Pepe Rosso Social has you covered. This charming spot is ideal for both families and one-on-one evenings out. Their two standout dishes- Pappardelle Oxtail Ragu and Fettuccini with wild mushrooms and truffle oil are well worth the visit. The atmosphere is very relaxed, allowing for easy conversation. Try the Nutella Tiramisu for dessert!
Piacere 351 Broome St. bet. Bowery & Elizabeth St. (212) 219-4080.
Hours: Daily, 12:00pm – 2:00am
This cozy, traditional-style Italian restaurant is perfect for a family night out or a fun date night. Thin crust pizzas and an exciting array of pasta serve as their specialties. The gnocchi with tomato and pesto is not to be missed. The atmosphere exudes an underground vibe; exposed brick, rustic tables and at night candles are lit to boost the ambiance. This charming spot features an outdoor patio ideal for summer night dining.
In addition to our self-guided tour above, we offer pay-what-you-like guided tours that include Little Italy, such as our daily SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown Tour , our daily Downtown Manhattan 3-hour tour, and our New York City in One Day tour . We also have a Self-Guided New York Mafia Tour.
Best Tours NYC: Italian Food Tour of New York
This 2-hour food tasting tour of Little Italy features famous locations where The Godfather and scenes from Sex and the City were filmed, as well as tastings at some of the district’s top spots, including the oldest pizzeria in America. In addition to uncovering how many of the savory foods of Little Italy are prepared, your guide will share knowledge about the 20th-century immigrant experience that largely shaped Little Italy NYC. This tour is said to make up the equivalent of a 4-course lunch! Reservations: REQUIRED. Tour has a maximum occupancy of 20 persons.
Reviews of Best Tours NYC: Italian Food Tour of New York
The Italian Food Tour of New York ranks the highest of the tours offered by this company. The majority of users report positive experiences. Guides are said to be very knowledgeable about the district and its long history. There are 6 stops including tastings on this tour and most users report they are substantially filled by the end of it. The tour group sizes are said to range from small to big with many reviews praising guides for their ability to handle the larger ones in the busy district. Some users report negative experiences with customer service or small samples, though this is not reflective of the majority of reviews.
New York Tour 1
This lively tour packages SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown on a 2-hour excursion (though you should check out our pay-what-you-like version first) through NYC’s local establishments and bustling streets. This tour is just as much a sightseeing adventure as it is an educational experience. Participants will have the opportunity to spot celebrities in the Cast-Iron District, sample authentic snacks and visit the locations where Chinese gang violence once terrified the city. Along your stroll through each diverse neighborhood, your guide will share insights on the history of immigrants, the mafia and many other pivotal characters and events. New York Tour 1 has a wide range of NYC tours to choose from.
Reviews for New York Tour 1: SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown
Sporting a 5 out of 5 stars rating on TripAdvisor, New York Tour is well reviewed (read the reviews for this tour). Users describe this tour as exciting, revealing and authentic- citing the guides as passionate storytellers. The majority of reviews come from couples and families followed close behind by groups of friends. It seems the variety offered on this tour makes it an enjoyable experience for a wide range of participants. Users suggest this tour if you’re looking to see many sites in a relatively short period of time.
Walking Tours Manhattan: SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown Lunch or Dinner Tour
For those looking to sample some of what each district has to offer in cuisine- this tour is for you. Walking Tours Manhattan has designed this tour in such a way that participants are able to have a full and delicious lunch from four local shops and restaurants. Your local guide will lead you through each district sharing information about the history of the people and places that make these stops so unique. Sample pizza, fresh cheese, cannoli, pork dumplings and much more on this diverse adventure.
Reviews for Walking Tours Manhattan
Walking Tours Manhattan is rated 4 ½ out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide (read the reviews for this tour). Couples make up the majority of reviews, reporting extremely positive experiences about the sites and food tastings. Guides are described as friendly and very knowledgeable about the history of each district- with many users praising their guides ability to share a wealth of knowledge in a relatively short time. It is reported that the sampling portions at each stop are generous and very diverse. Users say this tour is ideal for those looking to experience the many different foods this area has to offer in an authentic NYC experience.
Ahoy New York Food Tours
This food tour features 7 tastings spread across Chinatown and Little Italy. A fuse of elements of history, culture, and food, participants will experience some of the many ethnicities represented in NYC. Your guide will take you off the traditional path where you’ll visit family-owned businesses, sampling cheeses, cannoli’s, dumplings and pastries. In addition to taking in the many sights, participants will learn a wealth of knowledge about the foods they taste. Following a sit-down lunch in Chinatown, the tour highlights some of New York’s historical landmarks before capping off with a sampling of Beijing-style dumplings and a traditional Chinese pastry.
Reviews for Ahoy New York Food Tours
Ahoy New York Food Tours is rated a solid 5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor and Viator (read the reviews for this tour). Couples and groups of Friends make up the majority of reviews, though families appear to be fond of this tour as well. The food is said to be delicious- many users cite the freshly-made pasta, cannoli and dumplings as standouts. The guides are said to share an abundance of information about not just the food, but the history of immigrants and gangs in the area. If you’re wondering if the tour is good for kids, parents with children as young as 13 report positive experiences. The diversity of this tour makes it great for all.
Gangsters Tour of New York
This unique tour begins in Petrosino Square, aptly named after New York City’s first Italian detective and from there explores the locations of some of New York’s most significant mafia-influenced spots. Participants will visit film locations where many iconic gangster movies have been filmed, including The Godfather, as well as the Curb Exchange- the bootlegging depot of NYC during prohibition. This tour puts travelers in the footsteps of Donnie Brasco and the Sopranos before capping off with a drink stop at Mulberry Street Bar.
Reviews of Best Tours: Gangsters of New York
While there are limited reviews of this tour, the available write ups suggest it is a must do for any mafia fan. The guides are said to be highly engaging, sharing a wealth of information about the history of the mafia in NYC as well as general history about the Little Italy district. There are some reviews from New York residents who report the tour as very revealing, some learning things about the mafia presence in the city that they hadn’t previously known.
When: Saturdays @ 2:00pm
Where: Petrosino Square @ Cleveland Place (Lafayette and Kenmare)
Duration: Approx. 90 minutes
Reservations: REQUIRED. Tour has a maximum occupancy of 40 persons.
Price: $35/per person
PRO-TIP: Save 50% when you book through Get Your Guide. https://www.getyourguide.com/new-york-l59/new-york-2-hour-gangster-walking-tour-of-little-italy-t47915/
Reviews for the Museum of the American Gangster
This tour features a majority of positive reviews with a 4 out of 5-star rating on TripAdvisor. Users cite the tour as quirky and entertaining, impressed mostly with the guide. Couples make up the majority of reviews but this tour is ideal for anyone with an interest in gangsters and all things mafia. Users report the guide as highly knowledgeable and passionate. Many reviews cite the 1930’s hidden speakeasy in the basement as a highlight. There are some reviews that suggest the tour might be overpriced.
This tour must be booked ahead of time. Visits can be scheduled through email. email@example.com