For centuries, New York’s Italian immigrants have added unique character and savor to the city. From “Pasta Fazool” (an Americanization of the dish Pasta Fagioli) to “Leave the gun, take the cannoli,” New York has absorbed and adopted a lot of old-world Italian attitude. The way we see it, a trip to the Big Apple wouldn’t be complete without exploring the flavors of Italy – New Yawk style. Take a tour of these old-world purveyors of Italian-American delicacies, and step into a rich tradition that’ll leave your tummy and your tongue singing opera.
342 E 11th St, New York, NY 10003
Rows and rows of glistening pastries beckon behind polished glass countertops at Veniero’s—almost more than the eye can take in, and practically impossible for mere mortals to choose just one delicacy. Since 1894, this family-owned East Village “pasticciera” (AKA bakery) has been serving up everything from cappuccinos and affogato (vanilla gelato with a shot of hot espresso poured over it) to ricotta cheesecake, cannoli, fruit tarts, tiramisu, carrot cake, and old-fashioned rainbow cookies. When you’re strolling the side streets of the village and need a pick-me-up, come glut your sweet tooth beneath Veniero’s historic stained glass ceiling while you and your friends argue over whose dessert wins the night.
Di Palo’s Fine Foods
200 Grand St, New York, NY 10013
Have you ever had a truly perfect prosciutto? How about an authentic mozzarella or ricotta cheese lovingly handcrafted by master cheese makers? At DiPalo Fine Foods, an intimate Italian grocery that’s been in business since 1925, everything from cured meats to panettone (an Italian Christmas bread) to perfect wine pairings can be purchased from countermen who’ve been working there longer than you’ve been alive and know what you need before you do. These days Little Italy can be very touristy, but Di Palo’s is the real deal. This little grocery gets crowded at times, but you can entertain yourself staring at the wondrous cheeses and salamis dangling from the rafters as you try to figure out exactly what to take home. Homemade pastas, artisan olive oils, and sauces round out the offerings, leaving no craving unfulfilled.
200 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
Or 4 World Trade Center, 101 Liberty Street, Floor 3, New York, NY 10007
Ok, it’s a circus. But in the best way! This All-Things-Italian gourmet shop/eatery/olive oil purveyor is the pinnacle of possibility when you want a taste of Italy but can’t make it to Tuscany just now. The sprawling mecca offers a wonderland of taste sensations for tourists and locals willing to brave the crowds to take home beautiful pasta, cheeses, wines, antipasti, and prepared meals. Or eat amazing thin-crust pizza and sip a glass of wine at the attached Enoteca. In summer the Piazza inside the marketplace is a great place to grab a cocktail or small bite while you’re shopping. The Flatiron district is the original location, but there’s another branch downtown now too. You’re sure to score delicacies to take home for loved ones – and yourself as well.
Russo Mozzarella & Pasta
344 E 11th St, New York, NY 10003
or 363 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11215
So you want to try some ravioli that hasn’t been pre-packaged, frozen, and mass produced to within an inch of its life? In many parts of the country, that’s a forlorn hope unless you make it yourself at home. In New York, however, you’ve got lots of amazing options, and Russo’s is one of the best. (Plus, it’s right next to the abovementioned Veniero’s, so you can get dinner provisions AND dessert in one trip. Or, try the Park Slope location if you’re more of a Brooklyn adventurer, for an even more old-school experience.) From gnocchi to octopus salad to an olive bar that will blow your mind, everything at Russo is authentic and delicious. It’s deli, butcher, pasta source and cheese shop combined, plus a whole lot more.
2348 Arthur Ave, Bronx, NY 10458
You may have heard cannoli are kind of a thing here in NYC. And there are a LOT of cannoli places in the city. All of them will tell you they’re the best, and every New Yorker has their own “secret” source that claims to put all others to shame. So, what’s special about Madonia Bakery? Let’s just say it’s worth a trip out to the Bronx to find out. See, here’s what they don’t tell you about cannoli: they’re like 1,000% better if they’re freshly filled, the way Madonia does, to order. That way the shell doesn’t get soggy sitting around, and the sweet filling doesn’t get stale. And Madonia’s not just a one-note shop, if cannoli aren’t your thing. Try biscotti of every flavor, traditional Italian butter cookies, plus breads both savory and sweet. Some say it’s a bit of a free-for-all in the store, with patrons who are in the know jostling to get to the goodies, but we think that just adds to the authentic New York experience.
144 West Houston Street, New York, NY 10012
Opened way back in 1906, Raffetto’s is a family-owned Village staple that has been something of a chef’s secret when it comes to fresh, traditionally prepared pastas. Marcello Raffetto began with humble egg noodles and Genoa-style ravioli, but over the years generations of the family have added on wonderful offerings from homemade sauces to prepared food to cheese and deli meats. Every flavor filling for ravioli, tortellini, manicotti and so forth are waiting for you to take home and try out. (Tip for tourists: They also sell homemade dry pastas if you’re not going to be near a pot of boiling water right away.)