A trip to New York City may very well include Chinatown but if you hit Chinatown, you have to stroll a block or two more to the northwest and visit Little Italy.
Little Italy begins at Canal Street to the South, Lafayette Street to the west, Broome Street to the north, and ends with Mott, Grand, and Bowery to the east. Rich in traditions and a dark past that today is still surreal, Little Italy is a festival of foods, tradition, and history.
No trip to Little Italy would be complete without a stroll down Mulberry Street that runs through the heart of the area.
Early during NYCs growth, Italian immigrants began arriving. The area was at one time home to the banking industry and hard-working Italian Americans but over the course of the years that preceded, control of the streets began to connect back to Italy where mafia families began to try and take control of parts of the city.
Money laundering and blackmail became a common practice. Gangs began to sprout up and down Mulberry Street and from the late 1800s, all the way into the 1990s, control of Little Italy changes hands between mob families hell bend on controlling the area and New York City itself.
Today, the mob presence is more a relic than anything else and in its place is a bustling community of culture and the best part, food.
If you are fortunate to be in Little Italy during the Feats of San Gennaro, a yearly festival that has been happening since 1926, you will find an amazing menu of food representing all the regions of Italy itself. It is the largest Italian-American festival in the entire United States.
Personally, I could walk and eat fresh cannolis all day long but it is hard to pass on fresh Italian bread and pasta.
When the festival is not going on, the area still provides some of the best Italian cuisines in all of the U.S. Today you can stroll or sit at a table while enjoying the flavors of the city, the smell of fresh cooking, and take in the fact that you are sitting where some of the worst gangsters in American culture once sat, stood, walked, and even maybe gunned down.