Ahh, Little Italy. What was once my family's cultural home away from home is now slowly being sucked into Chinatown. Even though the streets are shrinking away from one territory into another and the shops are swapping out their goods from butter cookies and cannoli to various types of noodles and hanging chickens, Little Italy's influence still holds throughout the Lower East Side. It's just a little more scattered than its previously claimed territory.
I've spent a little too much time traipsing up and down the streets of the Lower East Side in search of my top authentic Italian eateries, and turns out, they were a lot closer to home than I expected.
Location: 342 East 11th Street
Take for example, Veniero's on East 11th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue. This shop has been around since 1894! Who needs to go all the way down to Little Italy when you can buy boxes of their traditional cookies, pastries, and confections by the pound, which are certified—by a passionate Italian (me)—authentic.
Say you're hunting for dinner, and you know you want Veniero's for dessert. Well, you're in luck. Right next door is a wonderful little homemade sandwich/pasta/mozzarella shop called Russo's.
Location: 344 East 11th Street
Russo's sells every kind of homemade pasta you could ever want or need, and it's sold fresh, as is their mozzarella, meats, and other various cheeses.
I tried the Italiano sandwich with prosciutto, mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil.
Maybe though, you're over around Washington Square Park and you just need a prosciutto sandwich, or maybe you just need to snack on a pound of mortadella or provolone, but you don't want to walk all the way to Russo's. Where do you go?
Location: 1 West 8th Street
La Panineria, on 8th street and 5th Avenue. That's where you go.
Opened in 2014, this little sandwich shop has gotten so successful they just opened a second location in Hell's Kitchen. You can order a panino off of their menu, or create your own, getting it either cold or hot.
I had the Olga: prosciutto cotto, mozzarella, organic tomato, and EVOO on ciabatta.
Location: 243 Bleeker Street
This Italian favorite has lived on Bleeker Street and 6th Avenue since 1974, and features one of the largest spreads of Italian confections I have ever seen. You seriously can't go wrong with any option here, but a must-try are their cannoli. They're made-to-order and covered in chocolate. What more could you want?