Sunday, March 23, 2008

City Walk #14 - Little Italy

Card no. 8 - photos
The teeming immigrant neighborhood of The Godfather or Scorsese's Mean Streets is long since gone, but a "Little Italy" of sorts survives: an enclave of old-style restaurants, bakeries, red, white, and green flags, and memories.

Begin at Mulberry and Canal (R, N, or W train to Canal Street).
In the 1930s, one-sixth of New York's population was from southern Italy, a huge number of whom crowded into the famously mean streets bounded by Houston, Canal, and Lafayette Streets, and the Bowery. A mass exodus to the suburbs followed World War II, and Chinatown has pushed farther north ever since. With the northern edge of the neighborhood recently reinvented as "Nolita" (City Walk #11/Card No. 13), the old Little Italy survives as a vestigial enclave frequented mainly by tourists and, during the 11 days of the San Gennaro festival (celebrated every September since 1926), by New Yorkers of every ethnic description. Booths selling zeppoli, cannoli, and pizza line Mulberry Street from Canal to Houston. The rest of the year, Mulberry is still your best bet for a meal. Be sure to stop into Ferrara's on Grand Street, just east of Mulberry, for pastry and cappuccino. Forzano's, at 128 Mulberry, has an appealing selection of Italian books and housewares. Alleva's and Di Palo's, at the corners of Grand and Mulberry and Grand and Mott, respectively, continue to sell homemade ricotta and mozzarella, even as almost every other storefront on the block displays Chinese lettering. Umberto's Clam House survives at the northeast corner of Broome and Mulberry Streets, but the old police headquarters, the fabulous pile that fills the block from Grand to Broome, has long since been converted to condominiums.

From City Walks: New York: 50 Adventures on Foot by Martha Fay

No comments: