Periodically, there’s an article about how Little Italy is dead or dying. Yes, it’s more of a tourist destination and less of a neighborhood where Italian people live. There are still some Italians there, and there are Italian-American-owned businesses there. A recent article in the New York Times made me want to write a series on Little Italy Isn’t Dead and feature some of the businesses there.
Caffe Roma was formerly Caffe Ronca, opened by Italian immigrant Pasquale Ronca in 1891 and run with his brother Giovanni who came to NYC a year later. It was a hangout for NYC’s literati–writers, artists, musicians, actors. Pasquale would go on to be impresario for Italian songs for the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In 1952, Vincento Zeccardi, an immigrant and former church ceiling painter, bought it, and it is still in his family today.