Little Italy Food with the side-order of History

Lombardi’s (32 Spring St)

Lombardi’s claims to be the very first pizzeria in the U.S. Moreover, it claims to be the birthplace of modern pizza as we know it. Gennaro Lombardi opened this pizzeria in 1905 and started using a coal oven for baking his pies – the step that converted the tinier and damper pizzas made back in Napoli into thick substantial pies loaded with various toppings. Lombardi’s pies could be wrapped up, making them into a portable lunch meal.

The original Lombardi’s where the first American pizza pie was introduced to the world was located a few blocks down Spring Street.

Ferrara Bakery (195 Grand St)

Café Ferrara, Baker and importer of over 200 superb Italian specialties, first opened its doors in 1892. The cannoli at Ferrara Bakery are said to be legendary.

Alleva Dairy (188 Grand St)

Founded in 1892, Alleva claims to be America’s oldest cheese shop. Pina Alleva, the original shop owner, immigrated from Italy in the late 19th century, and the shop is still in the family.

Vincent’s (119 Mott St)

Vincent’s Clam Bar was founded in 1904 and named after the original owners’ son. It started as a sidewalk clam bar but is still around today, serving Italian Seafood. It is also home to the internationally celebrated Vincent’s Sauce.

Umberto’s Clam House (132 Mulberry St)

The place that wants to be known for its seafood rather than mafia murder.

A couple of weeks after the restaurant opened in 1972, it became the scene of a movie-like mafia murder. Mobster Joseph Gallo, better known as Crazy Joe for his violent temper, came here for breakfast after the night of his 43rd birthday celebration. He simply wanted to enjoy his scungilli, calamari, and mussels, but that was not to be. A hitman appeared from a side door, approached Joseph Gallo, and fired. A mortally wounded Gallo staggered towards the door, fell through the glass, and somehow made it to the intersection of Hester and Mulberry Streets before he finally expired.

This story gave the new restaurant its dubious notoriety. To the great honor of the restaurant proprietor, Mr. Ianniello, he wants to be known for his home-style cooking and atmosphere — not for the sensational murder.

Other places to visit:

Casa D’Angelo, 146 Mulberry St. offers an authentic, new perspective on classic Italian recipes

Casa Bella, 127 Mulberry St. temps with great food in a beautiful setting

Caffé Palermo, 148 Mulberry St is a must-do NYC experience. Proprietor Baby John holds the self-appointed but well-deserved title of Cannoli King.

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