Category Archives: New York

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: The Legendary Ferrara

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.

Ferrara

Ferrara, a legendary Italian pastry shop, opened in 1892 by Enrico Scoppa and Antonio Ferrara.  The fifth-generation pastry shop gained fame when Enrico Caruso became a regular.  Ferrara’s became well-known for its cannoli and torrone.  Talk about being a kid in a candy store.  I take one look at the glass case of glistening glazed fruit atop an array of pastries in a myriad of colors, and I’m mesmerized.  The pastry case at Ferrara’s is a work of art.  When I talk to people who’ve never been to an Italian bakery, I show them pictures of Ferrara’s.  Everyone in my family will attest to Ferrara’s being the gold standard of New York Italian pastries.

Ferrara’s pastries

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: La Bella Ferrara

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.

La Bella Ferrara

Opened in 1970 by Sicilian immigrants Frank and Nick Angileri, La Bella Ferrara is an old-school Italian bakery. The smell of freshly baked Italian cookies greets you as you open the door. I’ve tried so many cookies and pastries here and have never been disappointed.

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Umberto’s Clam House

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.

Umberto’s Clam House

Umberto Ianniello, who came to the United States from Naples in 1934, opened his clam house in 1972 and the restaurant is now run by his son, Robert. The restaurant started out selling only seafood, but now it has a full menu with pasta and meats as well.

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Caffe Roma

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

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.  

 

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Di Palo’s

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.

Di Palo’s

Concetta Di Palo and her husband, Luigi Santomauro, opened Di Palo’s in Little Italy in 1925 as a dairy. Concetta was from the Basilicata region of Italy. Now, in addition to ricotta and mozzarella, Di Palo’s carries a myriad of Italian grocery and specialty items. It is an overwhelming experience for the senses to see the hanging provolone cheese and prosciutto and salami and the variety of unique items on the shelves and in the refrigerated case. The shop is still family-owned today and a popular spot for foodies. It is like an old school deli, so be sure to take a number because it’s always crowded here.

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Parisi Bakery

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.

Parisi Bakery

Parisi Bakery is a family-owned Italian bread bakery (the last of its kind in Manhattan) opened in 1903. According to their website, their bakery is on Elizabeth Street and they also have a deli on Mott Street, which happens to be their original location. Their bread is distributed to restaurants throughout the city. They have lard bread and prosciutto bread, traditional Italian breads that are definitely hard to find. The deli has popular Italian sandwiches like salami, mortadella, chicken or eggplant parmigiana and lesser-known Italian sandwiches like peppers and eggs or potato and eggs as well as New York favorites like pastrami.

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Albanese Meats and Poultry

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.

Albanese Meats and Poultry

Albanese Meats and Poultry reminds us that Little Italy used to encompass a much larger area that included Elizabeth Street. In fact, when the Italians settled in the area, they lived near people from the same villages or regions. Mulberry Street was for Neapolitans; Elizabeth Street was where Sicilians lived. And indeed, the founders of Albanese Meats and Poultry were from Sicily. Moe Albanese is the current owner, who took the shop over from his parents who immigrated from Sicily. They opened it in 1923, when his mother, Mary, was only 18 years old, according to an interview with Moe by photographers James and Karla Murray. According to a New York Times article in October 2017, Moe still works there, though he is in his 90s. The shop was recently featured as the butcher shop in the Amazon show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Alleva Dairy, America’s Oldest Cheese Shop

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.

Alleva Dairy

In 1892, Francesco and Pina Alleva from Benevento, Italy, (not far from Naples) opened the first cheese shop in the United States. Alleva Dairy is known for its fabulous mozzarella and ricotta and its sandwiches. The Alleva family sold the business in 2014 to the late John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia and his wife, Karen King. Actor Tony Danza is also a co-owner of the store.

 

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Piemonte Ravioli

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.

Piemonte Ravioli

Piemonte Ravioli was opened in 1920 by a Genoese immigrant with the last name of Piemonte. In 1955, Mario Bertorelli from Parma bought it. Today, it is run by him and his son, Flavio. The store has a plethora of fresh and dried pasta. They tell photographers James and Karla Murray in Store Front that they use the original recipes from the Piemonte family. They use cheese from Alleva Dairy, and they make their own pasta sauces from their family recipes. Piemonte is also housed in a landmarked building.

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: E. Rossi & Co.

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.

E. Rossi & Co.

E. Rossi & Co. is a Little Italy and New York institution. The third-generation store started out in 1910 as a music publisher and it used to be on the corner of Mulberry and Grand Streets. My family has been going here for generations. It’s always been cramped and stocked with a lot of tchotchke. Mostly, they carry kitchen items–all kinds–and some that are essential for Italians like cheese graters and wooden spoons. They also carry CDs, DVDs, religious articles and statues, aprons, T-shirts, dish towels, and much more. You’ll frequently find the friendly owner, Ernest Rossi, singing. The New York Times did a profile of him last year. He’ll go out of his way to help you find what you’re looking for, as he did for me, when I was looking for Italian-themed dish towels from various regions of Italy.