Good Italian take-out in Little Italy?

posted by Jason Kottke Oct 12, 2006

From the perspective of the outside observer, New York's Little Italy seems like little more than a chunk of Disney World plopped down in the midst of lower Manhattan. On the ground, the reality is not much better, particularly if you're out to find a good meal. Unlike neighboring Chinatown, Little Italy's food reputation is not the best. Since we started working in our new office in Chinatown, a number of forays have been made into Little Italy in order to procure take-out to bring back to the office, particularly pizza-by-the-slice. The results have been disappointing; several slices of blah pizza and a deep-fried risotto ball with prosciutto, mozzarella, and peas (sounds fantastic, right?) that was way not fantastic.

Is there anywhere in this whole small country we can get good Italian food to go or pizza-by-the-slice? As it is, Little Italy is reflecting poorly on the mother country and its excellent cuisine, and it would be nice, if possible, to salvage some of that reputation.

Reader comments

Dan FrieberOct 12, 2006 at 4:31PM

I agree with you when it comes to findin great food in Little Italy.

Try Luna's..I'm not quite sure where it is but since I've found it I've gone nowhere else. Great pizza, great pasta, and good service.

Tim HansonOct 12, 2006 at 4:39PM

Paesano of Mulberry Street has great Italian. They're between Grand and Hester in the heart of little italy.


NickOct 12, 2006 at 4:40PM

I love the food at Lombari's (32 Spring St.), but I'm not sure if they do take out.

AvramOct 12, 2006 at 4:43PM

I think you're making a mistake thinking of pizza as Italian food. I mean, it is, technically, but in my experience the best pizza is found at places that specialize in pizza.

Sadly, I can't actually help with your request. When I'm down in that part of the island, it's Chinese food I'm looking for.

Have you tried checking the reviews on Slice?

NateOct 12, 2006 at 4:54PM

I don't know about take-out specifically, but I ate at Casa Bella (southwest corner of Mulberry and Hester) a couple weeks ago and the food was great. Best I've had outside of our (Boston's) Little Italy.

craigOct 12, 2006 at 4:56PM

It's not pizza, but check out the Italian Market (can't remember the name) on Grand + Mulberry. The deli in there makes a killer sandwich that'll hold you down for at least 8 hours.

R J KeefeOct 12, 2006 at 5:02PM

They say that Little Italy has left Manhattan, for Arthur Avenue in Belmont, the Bronx. NOT convenient to subways.

RyanOct 12, 2006 at 5:04PM

While not in Little Italy, my vote for best pizza is Una Pizza Napoletana on 12th Street.


Anthony's no joke.

ScottOct 12, 2006 at 5:17PM

Sal and Carmine's makes excellent slices, perhaps the best in town.

True, it's on Broadway between 101st and 102nd, but just in case you're uptown and pining for an old-school fold or two....

Jim RenaudOct 12, 2006 at 5:28PM

Have you tried the Olive Garden? I hear it's like your family in there.

MiaOct 12, 2006 at 5:33PM

Florio's is a good place for lunch - really good food. I've read some frustrated reviews but never experienced any of the rudeness, noise, or cigar smoke described at lunch time. It was always a nice experience for me and my work crew.

It's on Grand between Mulberry and Mott


I loved getting the bread and salad and really good pizza, gnocchi, manacotti, pretty much anything is going to be wonderful.

For delicious and reasonably priced meatball subs and italian sandwiches (big firemen and cops) is Parisi's on Mott at Spring St.


Oh how I miss working on Mulberry. Park Ave is deli-hell by comparison.

ChrisOct 12, 2006 at 5:45PM

I've always loved the pizza at Pomodoro on Spring & Mulberry (extreme northern end of Little Italy), but I make absolutely zero claims as to its "authenticity" or objective quality.

crazymonkOct 12, 2006 at 5:53PM

Arancini (the rice balls, literally "little oranges") are great when made well. But like anything (e.g., french fries), they can be cold, greasy, and gross.

I don't know much about Little Italy, but it seems more touristy these days than authentic. I don't know NYC well enough to tell you where to go, but I could point you to a house two hours northeast of there where my mother (who immigrated from Siciliy) could make you a feast to remember.

essOct 12, 2006 at 5:55PM

of course lombardi's delivers...
parisi is the greatest...

what happened to buffa's last week? (yes, technically nolita)

NickSOct 12, 2006 at 6:15PM

I'd have to 2nd Paesano on Mulberry. When I ate there on a business trip a year ago, it was incredible. Don't know how the take-out would work though...

And when I was there, I didn't just eat at Paesano and call it good. That week I sampled 4 places on Mulberry, it was definitely my favorite.

megnutOct 12, 2006 at 6:16PM

Buffa's is getting renovated. Eater had the scoop awhile back.

kowgurlOct 12, 2006 at 6:39PM

not little italy, but ben's on spring st has a good slice.
Does frank deliver that far down?

Noah BrierOct 12, 2006 at 6:55PM

How about Alleva Dairy on Grand and Mulberry? They've got a fantastic prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich.

Also, as a funny sidenote, when you type prosciutto in TextEdit it suggests spelling it 'prostitute.'

CraniacOct 12, 2006 at 7:12PM

It almost seems like it would be easier to make a pizza at home and bring it in.

damonOct 12, 2006 at 7:45PM

Two great Pizza places: Lombardi's and (more inventive and really good) L'asso both on Mott between Spring and Kenmare.

Besides that, the best restaurant in Little Italy in my opinion is Nyonya on Grand near Mott which is not Italian but Malaysian. It's the real deal... try the Hainanese chicken.

I find it sad as well... for the resident, little italy offers nothing...

prince and mlberryOct 12, 2006 at 8:23PM

Buffa's is getting gutted. not just renovated. I would be shocked for it to come back in any form similar to what it was. (For the sole reason that you just don't gut Buffa's to put another Buffa's in it's place).

malatronOct 12, 2006 at 8:31PM

I second Pomodoro's

honklerOct 12, 2006 at 8:33PM

Try Pepe Rosso. Technically SoHo but I think they'd deliver to LI/Upper ChiTown. Great Gnocci.

JerryOct 12, 2006 at 9:41PM

Try Ray's Pizza, 27 Prince St. Very good pizza imho

RyanOct 12, 2006 at 9:51PM

my sister lives near houston just outside little italy (they call the area noho now but that name fills me with furie) and the best italian places i've found in the area aren't actually in little italy. they sort of skirt it. just outside but surrounding. the most interesting pizza place (not the best) would be two boots. not sure where it is, but its cajun style pizza. the sauce contains a lot of chili. it taste very southern/tex-mex but a little muddy if you catch my meaning. the place realy shines as far as toppings go. great cheese and toppings like craw fish and Andouille sausage. real fun antmosphere too.

Michael PintoOct 12, 2006 at 10:03PM

Ray's at 27 Prince Street makes great slices:

212 966-1960


My suggestion is to try the Pesto slice...

DaveOct 12, 2006 at 10:12PM

Fratelli's took really good care of us. We were there on an off night and they gave us some free wine to keep us around a little longer. Unfortunately it's under renovation until January.

We just visited Novella which was one step below Olive Garden and about triple the price. Looks nice from the outside.

Lombardi's is your best bet for pizza in the area although I'm not sure it's considered Little Italy.

kathrynOct 12, 2006 at 10:16PM

Don't you read Chowhound, man?


Anyway, good luck.

kleanerOct 12, 2006 at 10:20PM

funny thing, they had a pizza theme show on the travel channel yesterday and apparently the place to go is RAY's ...

on a side note, i'm still looking for some good pizza here in Houston .... tx.

AdeleOct 13, 2006 at 12:36AM

Pomodoro is absolutely disgusting! If you want pizza (though not by the slice) in that 'hood go to Lombardi's. I second the deli on Grand and Mulberry for sandwiches, but actually prefer Dom's on Lafayette and Broome. There sandwich selection is incredible, and tastes incredible.

JeffOct 13, 2006 at 1:41AM

We ate at La Mela, on Mulberry St. last month. Didn't get a slice, but the pasta was damn good.

TabithaOct 13, 2006 at 3:35AM

Deep fried risotto balls are called supli.

EmilioOct 13, 2006 at 4:26AM

> Deep fried risotto balls are called supli.

Yes Tabitha, you're right!
But the spelling is slightly different (at least in Italian):
Supplì ;-)

Arancini are still risotto balls, usually "white" inside (no pomodoro).

hghudakOct 13, 2006 at 7:44AM

Geno's - South Philly.

JulieOct 13, 2006 at 9:15AM

Pizza pomodoro has great vodka pizza. Also, I would suggest Patsy's further uptown, on University.

Jonathan DobresOct 13, 2006 at 9:24AM

My advice would be to board a plane to Boston and hit the North End, home to what feels like seven billion Italian restaurants, many of them excellent. Mike's Pastries is near legendary in the city. Best cannolis this side of the Atlantic ocean, and the Pacific, for that matter.

janelleOct 13, 2006 at 10:13AM

good luck ferreting this out... i personally recommend getting up and out to where the really good stuff is, wherever that may be, usually requiring wheels of one variety or another. but, that's coming from an outerborough culiary adventurist whose boyfriend owns a car and loves to drive it.

tienOct 13, 2006 at 11:12AM

i personally despise lombardi's. the crust is too thick and since the renovation, it's even more of a tourist trap.

just stick to chinatown. so cheap. usually tasty.

VodkaPizzaOct 13, 2006 at 11:12AM

there is one place in L.Italy that does a vodka pizza.....And pizza by the slice is so different than whole pie pizza....lombardis is sturdy but not what it used to be and you can only get whole pies.....Anyone know the vokda pizza place? It used to have baby blue exterior?

RyanOct 13, 2006 at 12:58PM

hghudak, genos is not in NY's little italy. even if it was it doesn't really serve italian food. yes the philly cheese steak was invented by american italians (at pat's, geno's opened in the seventies), but thats not what we're talking about

ChrisOct 13, 2006 at 3:00PM

The "vodka pizza" place is the aforementioned Pomodoro.

Conor SlatteryOct 13, 2006 at 7:21PM

Yeah, I go to Fordham, across the street from Arthur Ave. It blows the fake Little Italy away. Legit restaurants, though the good pizza places are a couple of blocks away.

Brian R. BrownOct 13, 2006 at 8:47PM

Absolutely, though great treasures are often found where you least expect them.

For incredible Italian to go, it would be hard to beat Zio Johno's... but of course, that requires a trip to most unlikely of places, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

And while not "by the slice," a trip next door to the Sip-n-Stir will yield some of the best pizza (right up there with any of the NY pie I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing) you could ever want.

...slinga da ink, back to Coe again

hghudakOct 14, 2006 at 9:24AM

RYAN: FYI - Pizza is also an American invention. And the question was: Is there anywhere in this whole small country we can get good Italian food to go or pizza-by-the-slice? As always, South Philly is the BEST!!!

zincinkOct 14, 2006 at 9:53AM

arthur ave my friend.

Tony SiinoOct 14, 2006 at 1:31PM

ArancinE! Not arancini!

David JacobsOct 15, 2006 at 1:17PM

I have a policy that the food in Little Italy is the best ever.

EmilioOct 15, 2006 at 6:26PM

> ArancinE! Not arancini!


jocelynOct 16, 2006 at 2:23PM

The best Italian in NYC isn't in little Italy, it's in Belmont, the Bronx on Arthur Ave. Best markets ever.
Subway: B, D, No. 4 to Fordham Rd., then Bx12 east; No. 2 or 5 to Pelham Pkwy., then Bx12 west; Metro-North to Fordham Rd., then shuttle bus to Belmont.

cjOct 17, 2006 at 9:42AM

hghudak, are you kidding me? c'mon, pizza is not an american invention. take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_pizza.

Keith KnutssonOct 18, 2006 at 1:42PM

I agree. Northing beats the reasl thing....


Keith Knutsson

red_foxOct 19, 2006 at 9:36AM

You need come to Italy in order to eat GOOD FOOD: piazza, risotto, pastasciutta.
Greetings from Italy!

rob benevengaOct 26, 2006 at 11:05AM

I agree with damon best pizza in in ( or near ) little italy is L'asso and the offer pizza by the slice

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.