The Northeast’s little Italy restaurants and the neighborhoods they are a part of, exude a welcoming “La Dolce Vita” feeling, known in Italian as “the sweet life.” They are also synonymous with some of the best Italian American food you’ll find anywhere.
From eateries with Sicilian-style pizza and heaping plates of pasta to bakeries with Napoleon-inspired cannoli and every flavor of gelato you can imagine, these restaurants, both old and new, draw visitors from around the world to enjoy the traditional fare and gracious Italian hospitality,
Here’s a guide to the best Little Italy restaurants in the Northeast, from New York City and New Haven, Connecticut, to Boston and beyond. Grandma may have a contender for the best red sauce in town, but don’t tell her we said so!
When you’re going on a trip, sometimes the best thing to do is to follow your stomach. In recent years, food tourism has become more and more popular.
New York City, New York
Lower Manhattan’s Little Italy has shrunk in size, but that hasn’t stopped a heavy stream of tourists from coming to sample endless plates of lasagna and meatballs.
There are plenty of Little Italy restaurants to choose from, but how can you not visit a restaurant with a tagline of “America’s First Pizza”? Since 1905, AAA Diamond Rated Lombardi’s has been serving up coal-fired pizza to tourists and locals alike. Can’t decide between the margherita or white pizza? Insider tip: They will make you a pie that’s half-and-half, which isn’t on the menu.
Then there’s Gelso & Grandwhich; recently opened, it has become a mainstay for fresh handmade pasta, like the brown butter gnocchi or cacio e pepe agnolotti. But if you’re looking to skip the pizza and pasta, don’t worry there are other options like Seamore’s on the corner of Broome and Mulberry, serving up simple sustainable fish dishes and has the perfect view of the iconic Little Italy sign.
If you need more suggestions on where to eat in Little Italy, sign up for the New York Cannoli Tour, where you’ll learn the history of the area, while making stops to taste things like cannolis, rice balls, pizza and cappanata at Polosud, Piccola Cucina and Caffé Palermo. Andiamo!
Providence, Rhode Island
Spaghetti, fettuccine, rigatoni, oh my! Find all of these types of pastas and more in the Federal Hill section of Providence.
DePasquale Square is the heart of the neighborhood and home to many cafes and restaurants, including Scialo Bros. Bakery, which serves up traditional biscotti in flavors including hazelnut, macadamia and almond. Then try an old-world Italian meal at Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen; the classic spot opened in 1956 and is well-known for their chicken parmigiana and rosy pink dining room.
For a more casual dining experience, head to Anthony’s Italian Deli for The Godfather, their legendary sandwich overflowing with five kinds of Italian meat, provolone, hot peppers and all of the accouterments you can imagine.
The North End, Boston’s Little Italy, is jam packed with authentic Italian bakeries, pastry shops, coffeehouses, delis and exceptional restaurants, centered around Hanover Street.
Whether you opt for caprese salad, eggplant parmigiana or spaghetti Bolognese, do this neighborhood right and sample one or all of these famous Italian dishes at Cantina Italiana. Lucca is famed for their extensive wine list and dishes like their house-made beet purée and mascarpone ravioli. No wonder why they just opened another location in Boston’s Logan Airport.
Bricco’s late-night menu featuring zucchini flowers stuffed with truffled ricotta cheese, makes it hard to pass up.
New Haven, Connecticut
Even if you’ve never visited the area you’ve probably heard of New Haven-style pizza, a thin-crust, coal-fired Neapolitan pizza. Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria is one of the most famous establishments to serve this kind of pie.
Next door, Libby’s has every kind of Italian pastry you can imagine: cannoli, sfogliatella, napoleon, rum baba, tiramisu and the list goes on. Adriana’s, Goodfellas, L’Orcio, Brazi’s and Consiglios are among the best restaurants in this Little Italy, where people come for the food and stay for the food!
Tell us about your favorite Little Italy restaurants and foods in the comments. We’d love to hear!