Where to Find New York’s Hidden Italian Neighborhoods

Gentrification and a loss in manufacturing jobs have gradually chipped away at Italian neighborhoods in NYC, but many shops, restaurants and corridors live on today.

By: Felicia LaLomia, ISDA Contributor 

We all know Little Italy, and maybe even the Bronx’s Arthur Avenue, but with the increase of gentrification and the distance from the immigrant generation increasing, other Italian neighborhoods are hard to find.

Although boroughs like Brooklyn used to be filled with Italian neighborhoods, many people moved out of the area after several manufacturing plants were closed down. The Giglio festival in Williamsburg even had trouble recruiting volunteers this past July. 

But small as they might be, Italian neighborhoods still exist. You may have to hop on the subway and leave the island of Manhattan, but they are there.

  • Throgs Neck

    • At the end of the 19th century, extended transit lines brought a new wave of Italian farmers and tradesmen to this Bronx neighborhood. Today, Throgs Neck’s East Tremont St. is lined with some of the best Italian shops around. 
    • Our recommendations: Tosca Cafe, Patricia’s of Tremont, Da Franco & Tony Ristorante
  • Staten Island

    • Sure, you have to hop on a ferry to get there, but the ride is free. Staten Island is probably New York’s most underrated borough as people don’t really make the trip over, unless they live there. But back in the 1960s, when the Verrazano Bridge was built, many Italians migrated from Brooklyn to Staten Island. Today, almost 36 percent of residents have Italian heritage and you’ll find some of New York’s most classic Italian food. Check out Enoteca Maria, which rotates “Nonnas” from different cultures to cook food.
    • Our recommendations: Enoteca Maria, Pizzeria Giove, Defonte’s, Patrizia’s of Staten Island

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  • Italian Harlem

    • Yes, it may be better known as “Spanish Harlem” now, but the Italian roots are still there. In the 1900s, many Southern Italians immigrated there and made Harlem their home. Before the 1950s, over 100,000 Italians lived there in tenement buildings. Each area of the neighborhood was organized into the Italian regions where the immigrants migrated from. Those from Bari lived on East 112th St.; Sicilians lived on East 100th St. between First and Second Avenue; a community of immigrants from Sarno resided on East 107th St. between First Avenue and the East River. And that was only part of it. Today, little of that remains. In the 1950s, the Hispanic community began to grow in Harlem. The historic Claudio’s barber shop even closed. But still standing strong is Rao’s, which is widely considered one of New York’s most exclusive restaurants. It’s iconic red exterior is enough motivation to see the old neighborhood. 
    • Our recommendations: Rao’s (if you can get a reservation!), Patsy’s Pizzeria
  • Morris Park

    • Up in the Bronx in this neighborhood still stands an old, fading architectural marvel. On the corner of East 180th St. and Morris Park Ave. is an old train station built in 1912 in the style of an Italian villa. It didn’t serve its initial purpose for too long, only acting as a station for the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad until 1937. After, it was sold to the city and became the Dyre Avenue Line. Today, its peeling paint and striking architecture will certainly transport you back in time. While you’re up there, look for the Italian flag colors painted in lines on the street to mark the Columbus Day parade route. 
    • Our recommendations: Patricia’s, Enzo’s of Williamsbridge 


What Italian neighborhoods did we miss? Where are your favorite Italian spots in NYC?

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Gentrification and a loss in manufacturing jobs gradually chipped away at Italian neighborhoods in NYC, yet many shops, restaurants and corridors live on today—here's where you can find them.

Posted by Italian Sons and Daughters of America on Saturday, October 26, 2019

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