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Mulberry Street in New York's Little Italy

Visit this Lower Manhattan haven for all things Italian.

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If you want to have a traditional, OLD-WORLD ITALIAN EXPERIENCE — THE KIND THAT makes you feel like you glided into town in a gondola and were met by a gaggle of Italian grandmas eager to feed you because you look too thin — there’s no place in America like Mulberry Street in New York’s Little Italy . Life here revolves around pasta with red sauce and its many culinary cousins, so plan your visit around an evening meal and chow down. Or, as the locals would say: Mangia!

Appetizers Before dinner, soak up the local life and lore with a casual stroll, made even easier during months with nice weather, when the street is often closed to cars on weekends. There are plenty of sites to see, wares to buy and extras to enjoy. Stop by 129 Mulberry, which is now home to the excellent Da Gennaro restaurant but is best known for being the building where mobster Crazy Joey Gallo was gunned down in 1972. Pop into Mulberry Street Cigar Co., a comfortable refuge for aficionados of real hand-rolled beauties. Relax with a cocktail while Connie Francis warbles from the jukebox at Mulberry Street Bar, where scenes from many a mafia film (Donnie Brasco) and TV show (The Sopranos) have been shot. Then browse in one of the many souvenir emporiums and take home a trinket (we’re partial to a “You Talkin’ to Me?” T-shirt).

  1. Da Gennaro
    129 Mulberry St.
    (212) 431-3934
  2. Mulberry Street Cigar Co.
    140 Mulberry St.
    (212) 941-7400
  3. Mulberry Street Bar
    176 1/2 Mulberry St.
    (212) 226-9345
  4. Benito II
    163 Mulberry St.
    (212) 226-9012
  5. Grotta Azzurra
    177 Mulberry St.
    (212) 925-8775
  6. Angelo’s
    146 Mulberry St.
    (212) 966-1277
  7. Il Piccolo Bufalo
    141 Mulberry St.
    (212) 219-9068
  8. Rubirosa
    235 Mulberry St.
    (212) 965-0500
  9. Caffe Roma
    385 Broome St.
    (at Mulberry St.)
    (212) 226-8413
  10. Ferrara Bakery & Café
    195 Grand St.
    (between Mulberry & Mott streets)
    (212) 226-6150
  11. La Bella Ferrara
    108 Mulberry St.
    (212) 966-7867

Main Course Roughly translated, agita is that unsettled feeling in the stomach when inferior Italian food passes through it. Fortunately, the feeling is absent from Mulberry Street, because nothing but the best is served on this several-block stretch of pavement. Benito II is a landmark eatery where ­paesanos and nonpaesanos alike have feasted for dec­ades on such staples as seafood linguine or steak alla pizzaiola. Grotta Azzurra , a fixture since 1908, was a favorite of famed opera tenor Enrico Caruso as well as Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack buddies. The lobster fra diavolo here is bellissimo, and the wine list will make you swoon. Established in 1902, Angelo’s is Little Italy’s oldest restaurant — and their scungilli con salsa piccante appetizer will make you understand their staying power. And when the moon hits your eye like — well, you know — grab a pizza pie at the casual but inviting Il Piccolo Bufalo or Rubirosa, the latter of which won best slice honors this year in New York Magazine’s Best of New York awards. (Though please note: You can only buy it by the slice between
11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.)

Dessert Hope you saved room for dessert, because in Little Italy, they’ve been making offers you can’t refuse since long before The Godfather hit the big screen. Italian pastries and espresso drinks beckon from Caffe Roma, a longtime area favorite at the corner of Mulberry and Broome streets; the café has been run by the same family since 1891. Just around the corner from Mulberry and only one year younger than Caffe Roma, ­Ferrara Bakery & Café is another institution. Caruso also dined here often, and Yankees legend Phil Rizzuto once did a “Holy Cannoli!” radio campaign for the place. Not to be confused with its surname-sharing streetmate, the tiny, unassuming La Bella Ferrara — located two blocks south of Ferrara Bakery and Café will also satiate your sweet tooth like mama used to.