The Best Restaurants in Little Italy, New York City

© Quang Ngo / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Culture Trip
9 July 2020

It may be Italian in name, but this Manhattan neighbourhood is as diverse as they come when it comes to cuisines. Check out some of the best with our handy guide.

Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
© Monstruo Estudio / Unsplash

In New York City, smoked salmon is considered a seafood staple. Few places make the Jewish dish as well as the 1914-established Russ and Daughters Cafe. The Manhattan appetizing store and café particularly specializes in Nova smoked salmon along with pastrami-cured salmon, herring, caviar, and much more.

Restaurant, Seafood, American, $$$
© Alex Stein : Courtesy of Seamore's
© Alex Stein / Courtesy of Seamore's | © Alex Stein / Courtesy of Seamore's

Boasting several New York locations (the Nolita address is a fan-favorite), Seamore’s is the city’s premier seafood chain. Crowd-pleasing plates of seared and crispy fish tacos on corn tortillas and Maine-style lobster rolls, plus a weekday Oyster Happy Hour, continue to reel in customers.

Ice Cream Parlour, Restaurant, Asian, Dessert, Contemporary
Taiyaki NYC
© Taiyaki NYC

Don’t let taiyaki’s literal translation—“fried fish”—fool you; the Insta-worthy offerings at Taiyaki NYC are sweeter than Snapper. Here, fish-shaped waffle pastries are baked and filled with sweet red beans, custard, or soft-serve ice cream in Asian-inspired flavors such as matcha and black sesame. Enticing seasonal specials, including pumpkin spice soft-serve and croissant taiyaki, make this Chinatown creamery a year-round destination for New York City dessert lovers.

Bakery, Cafe, Restaurant, Italian
Ferrara’s has delighted Little Italy with its incredible Italian pastries and old-world New York atmosphere since 1892. The selection is vast and enticing, and if you can’t decide on just one, the ‘Trio of Three’ is always a great option – that way you can choose three miniatures of any of their famous desserts. The Sfogliatella (a flaky pastry filled with baked ricotta, farina and fruit) and the cream puffs filled with Bavarian cream are classic Italian favorites. Along with excellent coffee and espresso, they also make their own sodas in-house. Luckily, they’re also open for breakfast so you can indulge in a variety of sweet treats any time of the day.

Cafe, Diner, American
Landmark has an old school charm that’s hard not to fall in love with. Reminiscent of a 1960s diner, customers feel right at home among the simple yet cozy baby blue tables and checkered tiles. This no fuss café serves American comfort food along with all day breakfast, and is easy on the wallet.

Cafe, Italian, $$$
Caffé Palermo is a Little Italy institution, and has been since its opened its doors in 1973. Voted home of the best cannoli in New York, Caffé Palermo boasts a modest interior that transforms into magic at night, especially beneath the outdoor string lights on Mulberry Street. For both tourists and locals, there is hardly a better way to pass the time in this neighborhood than with a coffee, a cannoli, and the merriness of Mulberry Street.

Restaurant, Italian
Sophia’s of Little Italy not only serves an abundance of wines and other drinks, but they have a delicious food menu as well. All of their pastas and sauces are homemade. This is a one of the more traditional restaurant-bars in Little Italy. Perfect for a date night.

Restaurant, Vietnamese
Little Italy’s Bánh Mì Saigon has been making traditional Vietnamese sandwiches, or banh mi, since 1989. Nearly three decades and 1,330 Yelp reviews later, the casual counter is now a cult favorite for house-made baguettes loaded with Vietnamese ham and pâté, beef stew, mixed vegetables, and more.

Cafe, American, $$$
© Courtesy of Sel Rrose | © Sel Rrose

Behind a (highly Instagrammable) dusty pink door lies the Cafe At Sel Rrose, the little sister of beloved Bowery cocktail and oyster bar Sel Rrose. Here, chocolate croissants and Tuscan kale salads are enjoyed alongside Counter Culture coffee drinks like lattes and cappuccinos and, naturally, plenty of camera phone photographers.

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
© Gelso and Grand
© Gelso and Grand | © Gelso and Grand

With its $20 price tag, Gelso and Grand’s Unicornolli is as lofty and intriguing as its namesake creature—and every bit as magical too. Two unicorn-inspired fillings, lavender-berry and funfetti cake, along with toppings, including mini macarons, rainbow sprinkles, and a bite-sized slice of funfetti cake, make this super-sized dessert well worth every cent.

Restaurant, Japanese, Ramen, $$$
Sun Noodle's Miso Ramenv
Sun Noodle's Miso Ramen | Courtesy of Sun Noodle / Ramen Lab

Of course, New York City has a “showcase ramen shop.” At Ramen Lab, “craft ramen” is what’s on the (ever-evolving) menu, which has been known to feature out-there ingredients such as lobster oil and pork ribs. A rotating cast of chefs and an affiliation with artisan noodle-giant Sun Noodle ensure every experience at the Lab is as fresh as it is flavorful.

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