Must-See NoLIta and Little Italy
by Christopher Wallace, 03/19/2013
(From left) Sweet & Vicious photo by Joe Buglewicz • NoLIta street scene photo by Joe Buglewicz
For more than 100 years, Manhattan's Little Italy has been a haven for family, tradition, community and celebration—and, of course, formidable culinary offerings. Though significantly reduced in size from its heyday in the first half of the 20th century, this enclave below Houston, bordered by Crosby on the west, Bowery to the east, and Canal Street on the south, is still a hub for Sunday suppers that would make Nonna proud. Above Delancey Street, the area now known as NoLIta (North of Little Italy) is among New York's hottest shopping districts. Indeed, visitors to the neighborhood now come for retail expeditions as much as any sense of devotion to its heritage, though the area's storied past is certainly feted. The Feast of San Gennaro, an 11-day festival that honors the eponymous saint and features food, entertainment and dancing, is still held every September, though the festival these days is less liturgical and more gastronomic in nature. (In the film The Godfather Part II, the event was a backdrop as the young Vito Corleone stalked the rooftops in pursuit of a rival mafioso en route to becoming the top don.) Little Italy has seen a revival of late, as a new generation of restaurateurs and retailers have moved into the former social clubs and mafia hangouts, ensuring the neighborhood is now both trendy and historic. For more about what to do and see—and where to dine—read on.