The 11 Best Things To Do in Little Italy NYC

The Ultimate Guide to Little Italy NYC

Little Italy NYC is a must-see neighborhood in Downtown Manhattan and is popular with most New York tourists. One of New York’s best-known streets is Mulberry Street, which runs through the area as the main street. Little Italy used to be much bigger than it is today. This part of Manhattan has a lot of history. For example, there is a brick house located on 247 Mulberry Street, between Prince and Spring St. This house used to be a meeting place of the Italian Mafia bosses. Today, that area is a shoe store.

Also, if you’re in the area around September, there are street festivals that close down the roads. Here you’ll find pop-up stands and street vendors that sell delicious food.

By the way: you’ll find many more New York City spots in our Loving New York travel guides!

My TOP 5 Things to Do in Little Italy

Here are our recommended locations that you should check out in Little Italy:

  • Take photos of the famous Audrey Hepburn Graffiti
  • Former Police HQ Building – This building used to house the police headquarters from 1909-1973 and is a true piece of NYC history
  • Gelso and Grand – This restaurant offers homemade pasta with a great ambiance. Must tries are the Burrata Salad, anything from the grill menu, as well as the homemade pasta of course!
  • Lombardi’s Pizza – This was the first pizzeria in the United States.
  • The Feast of San Gennaro – Celebrate Italy in September

Where is Little Italy NYC located?

Little Italy is bordered by Center Street to the west, Houston Street to the north, Canal Street to the south, and Bowery Street to the east. North of Little Italy is another small section called Nolita, the “North of Little Italy”.

Things to Do in Little Italy NYC

How to Get To Little Italy

  • Metro: The easiest way to get to Little Italy and NoLita is to take the following trains to Canal St. The trains are J N Q R W 6 Z
  • Hop on Hop Off Bus: Stop 8 of the downtown loop of BIG BUS or stop 8 of the downtown loop of Gray Line Sightseeing. Here you find more about Hop on Hop off in NYC.
    My tip: the tickets for the buses are included in many of the New York City passes – which one is the best for you, you can see in my Pass Comparison for New York!

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The 11 Best Things To Do in Little Italy NYC

There a so many things to do in Little Italy! These are our favorite things to see, eat and things to do:

  1. 01

    The Feast of San Gennaro

    Other Events in Little Italy
    The_Feast_of_San_Gennaro_NYC_190913160344020_1920x960
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    The annual Feast of San Gennaro attracts both New Yorkers and visitors to Little Italy in September. Why? The 11-day long festival will spoil you with Italian specialties, parades, eating contests, and free concerts.

    The festival celebrates the life of San Gennaro of Naples, who was once the Bishop of Benevento in Italy. He died a martyr’s death in A.D. 305. The next Feast of San Gennaro in 2021 will mark its 95th anniversary in Little Italy. Besides a church service, there is a parade in honor of the patron saint, a meatball eating competition, a zeppole eating competition, and the festival’s highlight: the cannoli eating contest.

    Recommended: The Best Events in September in NYC.

  2. 02

    Gelso & Grand: Have one of the best espresso in NYC

    Italian Restaurant in Little Italy
    Our Highlight
    Gelso_Grand_180205123405001
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    The Gelso & Grand is a successful mix of a restaurant (with excellent pizza), a bar and a small outdoor area. It is not only super stylishly furnished, but also has typically Italian good espresso. The audience is colourful: from families with children to couples and business espresso guests.

  3. 03

    Chinatown and Little Italy Food Fest

    Walking Tour in Chinatown
    Our Highlight
    Best_NYC_Food_Walking_Tour_Chinatown_and_Little_Italy_Food_Fest
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    Explore the flavors and traditions of  New York’s Chinatown and Little Italy during this exciting food tour. You’ll leave with a full stomach and lots of interesting information about the history and culture of these two neighborhoods.

  4. 04

    Audrey Hepburn-Graffiti

    Other Attraction in Little Italy
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    Each neighborhood has their own vibe and culture. New York City has some of the best street art and Little Italy is known for their great hidden graffiti. One of the most well-known of the city is located at 176 Mulberry St which features a mural of the the icon, Audrey Hepburn. Many more great spots can be photographed and admired there.

  5. 05

    Soho, Little Italy & Chinatown Walking Tour

    Walking Tour in Hudson Square
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    walking_soho_190118140134005
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    Now known for their many excellent restaurants, shops and tourism, Manhattan‘s SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown neighborhoods offer the most varied stories of New York City. Take a 2-hour tour with a local guide and discover hidden gems and 19th century buildings.

  6. 06

    Da Nico's Restaurant: Sits outside and watches the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood

    Italian Restaurant in Little Italy
    210228130410001_Italian_Food
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    Especially in summer Da Nico is a popular restaurant because of the many outdoor seating possibilities. The backyard is very romantically designed and invites you to linger. The service is exceptionally friendly and the food is fabulous.

  7. 07

    Take photos of the impressive Police Headquarters Apartments

    Building in Little Italy
    Things_To_Do_In_Little_Italy_NYC_6_161010163524002_1600x800
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    The former Police Headquarters Building on Centre Street is in its full splendour and gives you an idea of how the NYPD once marched from here to their operations. As you walk through Little Italy, you can’t miss the building. Today it is also known as the Police Building Apartments. 

    It occupies the entire block between Grand, Centre, Broome Street and Centre Market Place and gives you an idea of how the NYPD used to go in and out. 

  8. 08

    Di Palo’s Fine Foods

    Other Shopping in Little Italy
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    Di Palo’s Fine Foods is an absolute insider tip for all gourmets among you. New Yorkers come from all parts of the city to buy Prosciutto di Parma, ricotta, olive oil and the finest wines from various Italian regions.

  9. 09

    La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels: Enjoy a glass of wine (even when it is French!)

    Bar in Little Italy
    La_Compagnie_des_Vins_Surnaturels_09
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    This French wine bar is one of the best in the city. Don’t judge a book by its cover. From the outside “La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels” doesn’t look as special and chic as it is from the inside.

  10. 10

    Visit the Italian American Museum

    Museum in Little Italy
    Museum_170423115755026
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    This museum was opened in Little Italy in 2007 to exhibit the story of the Italian Americans in NYC. With the largest population of Italian Americans in NYC and the whole of North America, the museum discusses a huge part of the local culture.  The museum is located in an old bank building that used to be the link between immigrants and their families back home through the many services that they offered. If you are interested in the local history & culture, this museum is well worth the visit. 

  11. 11

    Head over to Lombardi's Pizza – the first pizzeria in the U.S.

    Italian Restaurant in Nolita
    Our Highlight
    191120195147002_Lombardi_s_Pizza
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    Lombardi’s is a pizza restaurant in Nolita and prides itself in being the first pizzeria in the United States. Here you can eat really well and enjoy a welcoming Italian atmosphere. Also make sure to try the Meatballs!

    Recommended: The Best Pizza in NYC!

Attractions in Little Italy

Many of New York’s major New York attractions are located in this part of Downtown Manhattan so make sure to add them to you travel itinerary:

  1. 171212134140004_1600x800

    01 Audrey Hepburn-Graffiti

    Each neighborhood has their own vibe and culture. New York City has some of the best street art and Little Italy is known for their great hidden graffiti. One of the most well-known of the city is located at 176 Mulberry St which features a mural of the the icon, Audrey Hepburn. Many more great spots can be photographed and admired there.

  2. Museum_170423115755026

    02 Italian American Museum

    This museum was opened in Little Italy in 2007 to exhibit the story of the Italian Americans in NYC. With the largest population of Italian Americans in NYC and the whole of North America, the museum discusses a huge part of the local culture.  The museum is located in an old bank building that used to be the link between immigrants and their families back home through the many services that they offered. If you are interested in the local history & culture, this museum is well worth the visit. 

  3. Things_To_Do_In_Little_Italy_NYC_6_161010163524002_1600x800

    03 Police Headquarters Building

    The former Police Headquarters Building on Centre Street is in its full splendour and gives you an idea of how the NYPD once marched from here to their operations. As you walk through Little Italy, you can’t miss the building. Today it is also known as the Police Building Apartments. 

    It occupies the entire block between Grand, Centre, Broome Street and Centre Market Place and gives you an idea of how the NYPD used to go in and out. 

Save big on New York attractions and tours

Budget Tip

    Go New York Explorer Pass 

Many of the attractions and tours in Nolita and the surrounding neighborhoods are included in one of the New York City passes. So you can easily and quickly save up to 70% – how does it work?

You can see that in my ultimate 👉  New York Pass comparison, here you can see my personal 👉  New York Pass Reviews after more than 20 visits to New York and our free New York Pass Advisor answers the question: “Which New York Pass is the best?

Compare New York Passes

Best Guided Tours

There are a lot of very popular tours where New York guides show you the best parts and the history of Little Italy:

  1. Best_NYC_Food_Walking_Tour_Chinatown_and_Little_Italy_Food_Fest

    01 Chinatown and Little Italy Food Fest

    Explore the flavors and traditions of  New York’s Chinatown and Little Italy during this exciting food tour. You’ll leave with a full stomach and lots of interesting information about the history and culture of these two neighborhoods.

  2. Best_Walking_Tour_NYC_New_York_Catacombs_by_Candlelight

    02 New York Catacombs by Candlelight

    You will be surprised how beautiful Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in Nolita is from the inside – and that it hides some secrets. The best way to find out what they are is to take a tour that takes you to different parts of the church, including the catacombs. It is one of the absolute insider tours in New York.

  3. Best_Street_Art_Walking_Tour_NYC_Sidewalks_and_Skyscrapers__Street_Art_Is_This_Way

    03 Sidewalks and Skyscrapers: Street Art Is This Way

    This walking tour shows that there is also street art and graffiti worth seeing in Manhattan. You start your exploration in Soho, and then in two hours learn the stories behind the large and small works of art. Some of the graffiti is an impressive 20 meters high, so always have your cameras ready!

If guided tours interest you, be sure to check out the Best Walking Tours NYC!

Best Restaurants in Little Italy

Little Italy is filled with good eats and some of the best pizza in NYC. These are our favorite Italian restaurants in Little Italy NYC:

  1. Gelso_Grand_180205123405001

    01 Gelso & Grand

    The Gelso & Grand is a successful mix of a restaurant (with excellent pizza), a bar and a small outdoor area. It is not only super stylishly furnished, but also has typically Italian good espresso. The audience is colourful: from families with children to couples and business espresso guests.

  2. la_mela_Things_To_Do_In_Little_Italy_NYC_9_161010163448002

    02 La Mela

    A good address if you want to go out for dinner in a relatively relaxed atmosphere. The food comes from the hands of a real Italian family. The mussels are highly recommended.

  3. 210228130410001_Italian_Food

    03 Da Nico

    Especially in summer Da Nico is a popular restaurant because of the many outdoor seating possibilities. The backyard is very romantically designed and invites you to linger. The service is exceptionally friendly and the food is fabulous.

Looking for more recommendations? We’ve got you covered! Here you find the

Best Hotels in Little Italy

Here are a few hotels in Little Italy or close to the area  that are worth booking.

  1. nobleDEN_little_italy_nyc_hotel_59666596

    01 NobleDEN Hotel

    4 stars | NobleDEN Hotel is located in the heart of Little Italy, just a few meters from Ferrara, one of the neighborhood’s most famous bakeries. It is also within walking distance of important landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge, and just a few minutes by subway to the main attractions of Manhattan.

    The spacious and comfortable rooms are the ideal starting point for a trip to New York, no matter your preferences. From dining and drinking to shopping and sightseeing, the Hotel NobleDEN is sure not to disappoint.

  2. Sohotel_New_York_Hotel_Booking

    02 Sohotel

    4 Stars | This stylish hotel is located just a two-minute walk from the Bowery subway station and a five-minute walk from New York’s legendary Little Italy. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel and the friendly staff are on hand 24 hours a day and happy to assist. 

  3. Nolitan_Hotel_New_York_Booking

    03 The Nolitan

    4 Stars | Nolitan Hotel is a small, fine boutique hotel. The decor is modern and clean. What makes it stand out? From your balcony you can enjoy an astonishing view of the Empire State Building and the Williamsburg Bridge. From the lounge on the top floor you can also see the One World Trade Center.

Recommended article: The Best Hotels in New York.

Shopping in Little Italy

There are plenty of great vintage stores that sell unique fashion pieces and accessories. NoLita is a great location for shopping.

The store Creatures of Comfort comes from Los Angeles and has a good mix of expensive fashion, but also trendy pieces that are quite affordable (address: 205 Mulberry Street). Another brand in the neighborhood is Christian Siriano. This designer won the fourth season of Project Runway in the US and opened his store in the chic neighborhood. The collection goes from fancy evening wear to more reasonably priced, funky streetwear and trendy accessories (address: 252 Elizabeth Street). A boutique named Condor, is located at 259 Elizabeth Street. Here you will find pretty printed scarves, fine necklaces, silk tops surrounded by marble stones and many plants.

Handcrafted accessories under a hundred dollars can be bought at the store of Erica Weiner. For real vintage lovers, check out New & Almost New. The price range here is from $15 – $600 and definitely worth a visit (address: 171 Mott Street). We found a ring that dated back to 1908 also.

Neighborhoods Nearby

There are many interesting neighborhoods nearby Little Italy NYC. Below are some of the more interesting ones close by.

Neighborhoods That Are Similar to Little Italy NYC

About the author
Steffen

I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 20 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On this blog, I want to share everything I have learned and discovered, so you can have the best time in the greatest city in the world.

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