Tag Archives: Mulberry Street

The New Italy in New York: Zia Esterina Sorbillo Neapolitan Pizza

I probably should’ve tried the pizza at Zia Esterina Sorbillo on Mulberry Street in Manhattan’s Little Italy because that is what they are famous for in Naples.  I have eaten it there and wrote about it in a previous post.

This visit I was alone and wanted something a little lighter–not that this huge calzone was.

I ordered the salame calzone.  I believe they use good ingredients here, and the prices do reflect that.

The calzone was good but a little peppery for my taste, although I do think it’s the Neapolitan style, as my grandma’s calzones had a good amount of black pepper.

If I return, I would definitely get the pizza. It’s Neapolitan-style, which tends toward a “soggy” center that is different from New York-style pizza. When I told my cousin in Italy that Sorbillo opened up in New York, he was very excited and said it is very good pizza. So I think if you are looking to try a pizza that closely resembles the style of pizza in Naples, this is the place to go.

San Gennaro Festival 2016

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New Yorkers are a resilient bunch with much pride in their city.  The bombing in Chelsea on September 17 would not deter them from carrying on.  The bombing occurred only two days into the ten-day San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy, but it didn’t keep the crowds from coming.  That’s good because it’s an important year for the festival–its 90th anniversary.

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September 19 is the feast day of San Gennaro and that is the day organizers celebrated with a mass and procession from the doors of the Most Precious Blood Church on Baxter Street around Canal Street and up through Mulberry Street.

Most Precious Blood Church

Most Precious Blood Church

This year’s grand marshal was Joe Causi.  A Bronx Tale‘s Chazz Palminteri also made an appearance at the festival.  (Tony Danza was the grand marshal of the parade last year, but this year,  I had my second run-in with the actor.  I was shopping in Alleva Dairy, the country’s oldest Italian cheese store, when a man said, “Excuse me, ma’am,” and brushed past me.  It was Tony.  Years ago, I ran into him on Bleecker Street and I asked for a photo to which he rudely said no.)

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Before Mass, I pinned a dollar on the statue of San Gennaro and got a pamphlet about him as well as a pin and prayer card.  Inside the church, there is a large presepio (Nativity scene) from Naples on display.

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Street vendors sell everything from American food to fair festival food like roasted corn,

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to pizza and cannoli

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to Italian tchotchkes

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to traditional Italian foods like these Italian cookies, taralli, mostaccioli and biscotti.

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I ate at Sal’s Pizza on Broome near Mulberry for pizza, sausage and broccoli rape.  At Sal’s, you get a side order of pasta with your entree, the traditional way.

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For dessert, some cassata and coffee at Caffe Palermo.

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Neighborhood Watch: Little Italy’s Grand Street

Today, it’s hard to imagine that Manhattan’s Little Italy once encompassed a much larger area than a few blocks along Mulberry Street.  Yes, my family lived on Mulberry Street south of Canal Street close to Bayard Street.  And Italians lived as far east as the Bowery.  Little Italy shrinks as the years go by.  It’s pretty much just Mulberry Street now maybe from Spring to Canal.  But that’s a stretch, as most of the businesses along that strip are not Italian or Italian-owned.  I would say the most Italian section of Little Italy is right off Mulberry and Grand Streets.  Here is the fairly new Italian American Museum, opened in 2001.  The building was the Banca Stabile, a bank founded in 1885 to aid the local Italian community and arriving immigrants.  Due to financial reasons, the museum is seeking a developer to build a new building at the site, so if you want to see the historic building, you should visit now.

Museum

The Alleva Dairy for cheese and meat and other Italian grocery items and the Piemonte Ravioli Co. for pasta.

Alleva

Piemonte

Across the street is E. Rossi & Company, an Italian housewares store that used to be on the corner and that every Italian American from NYC remembers.  Here is a great history of the store.  The article also mentions Paolucci’s, a restaurant that closed as rents went up.  Paolucci’s actually had perciatelli on the menu.  The owner introduced me to Goodfellas‘ author Nick Pileggi at the restaurant one night.

Rossi

Of course, no stop to Little Italy is complete without a visit to the famed pasticceria Ferrara.

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Try gelato or pastries, such as cannoli, napoleons, eclairs, or rum babas.

At the end of the block on Mott Street is Di Palo’s, an Italian deli/grocery.

Di Palo

Head south on Mulberry Street to the Church of the Most Precious Blood.  Established in 1891, this church is the site of the San Gennaro festival in September.

Church

For coal-oven pizza, try Lombardi’s on Spring and Mott Streets, the first pizzeria in the United States, opened in 1905.

Lombardi's pizza

Lombardi’s pizza

What to Eat:  Cannoli from Ferrara, pizza from Lombardi’s

Where to Shop:  E. Rossi & Company for housewares and Italian novelties; Alleva Dairy and Di Palo for cheese, meat and grocery items; Piemonte Ravioli for pasta

What to See:  Italian American Museum, Church of the Most Precious Blood

San Gennaro Festival 2012

The San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy kicked off this past week.

Mulberry Street

This is the 86th year of the feast that celebrates the patron saint of Naples.  September 19 is the feast day of San Gennaro, and there will be a Mass at Most Precious Blood church followed by a procession down Mulberry Street.

Most Precious Blood church

Foods that are traditional at Italian festivals include fried dough called zeppole, served with powdered sugar.  My grandma would make zeppole on St. Joseph’s Day.

Other Italian festival favorites include sausage and pepper sandwiches, clams, and fried calamari:

sausage and peppers

shucking clams

There are a lot of other Italian foods available at the festival, including Italian cookies and pastries, gelato, and pizza as well as fair foods like fried Oreos and funnel cakes.

Italian cookies

St. Joseph’s Day sfinge and sfogliatelle

fresh-cut torrone

struffoli (a Christmas treat)