New York’s Little Italy, once one of the biggest Italian-American havens in the US, may be getting smaller, but it’s certainly not flying under the radar.
MORE THAN ONE LITTLE ITALY
There are actually multiple Little Italys: though the one in Manhattan is the most famous, we can find others in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Italian communities are all over the city and it’s impossible to talk about American culture without noticing the contribution Italians have given over the years.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Due to a variety of reasons, including poverty and natural disasters, almost four million Italians came to the United States at the turn of the 20th century. The majority of these immigrants settled in lower Manhattan, in an area known as "Mulberry Bend.” Most Italian immigrants were from southern Italy. At the time, they occupied many streets, which were partitioned by regional roots: people from Naples lived near each other, just as those from Palermo might have done. Today we can say that Little Italy in Manhattan is well represented by Mulberry Street and its surrounding blocks.
WELCOME TO LITTLE ITALY
“Welcome to Little Italy” is the first thing tourists read as they leave Chinatown and enter the “Piccola Italia”. It is much smaller than it was in the past, but it has maintained the Italian atmosphere thanks to its many restaurants, cheese shops, bakeries, and cafes, each opened by Italian artisans years ago. Our immigrants introduced their recipes to New York as soon as they arrived. Over the years, the Italian culinary tradition has evolved and ultimately spawned a new cuisine: the Italian-American food tradition. This cooking style includes famous dishes such as pasta Alfredo, spaghetti with meatballs, and chicken parmesan.
SPEAKING OF FOOD...SAN GENNARO AND HIS CANNOLI!
Every September since1926, life around Mulberry street gets intense. Thousands of locals and tourists rush to the annual San Gennaro Festival. San Gennaro is the patron saint of Naples. While initially the celebration only lasted one day, now, it goes on for 11! It includes a colorful parade, along with live music and of course a lot of food carts where you can find panini, sausages, zeppole, and cannoli.
LITTLE ITALY IN THE BRONX AND BROOKLYN
Many like to call the Bronx’s Arthur Avenue the authentic Little Italy of New York. The area is bustling with markets, restaurants, pastry shops, and bakeries. You can find pasta, good espresso, meats, Italian bread, and talk with residents who have lived in the area for decades. In Brooklyn, Bensonhurst is the neighborhood that keeps the Italian heritage alive. A walk around Dyker Heights in December is also incredibly fun — the Italian community decorates its homes with every kind of Christmas decoration imaginable!