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No trip to New York City would be complete without a stop in Little Italy – and while you’re there it would be wise to fill your plate with some of the best spaghetti in town at one of these excellent restaurants in this historic neighborhood.

Il Cortile

Always popular among the locals, this Mulberry Street restaurant boasts one of Little Italy’s most charming dining areas – a garden room with a skylight for a roof. Even if you miss the seating in the garden, the rest of the dining area is just as delightful, with vibrant greenery, marble columns and Romanesque statues.

The business has been family-run for 40 years and they take pride in serving up one of the most innovative menus in the city. Whatever dish you choose will surely be delightful, but don’t miss out on the Spaghetti con Pesto made with fresh basil and pine nuts.

Il Palazzo

Tourists are usually drawn to this restaurant because of its ideal location in the very heart of Little Italy. The décor is old-country charm and the second floor of this eatery feels a little quieter and more removed from the bustle outside. If you enjoy the bustle, ask for a seat in the courtyard and do some people-watching while you have lunch.

The menu offers a long list of Italian specialties along with more standard fare, such as porterhouse steaks and mussels. The pasta is all homemade and the difference is clear with the first bite you taste. On your first visit, skip over all the initial tempting items and head straight for the Spaghetti al Chitarra, which is made with fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic.

Angelo Of Mulberry Street

When you walk into Angelo’s, you’re walking in to a little bit of history. Since 1902 this little restaurant has been a neighbourhood staple, inviting you into its cozy interior with its very traditional décor. The staff takes great pride in the fact that they have been consistently serving fresh, quality meals for more than a century.

The southern-Italian style menu has a large assortment of items – you could spend days there and not make it through all the appetizers – but save some for the next visit! This time you’ll want the Spaghetti Crabs Sauce with its rich basil-y garlic sauce poured over the pasta and plum tomatoes.

Peasant

On the edge of Little Italy in the district called Nolita (North of Little Italy), Peasant often makes the list of the best restaurants in New York. The open kitchen lets you watch the kitchen staff as they prepare dishes, making full use of the wood-burning oven that is the centre of the entertainment. Tables are heavy, wooden and the perfect display area for the rustic tableware and terra-cotta serving dishes.

It’s amazing what wood-roasting does to simple things like mozzarella and tomatoes, and you may be tempted to go straight for a wood-fired pizza, but once you take your first bite of the Spaghetti con Scampi made with tender langoustine, you’ll be glad you held out for the pasta.

L’asso

On the border between Little Italy and Nolito, L’asso is always highly-rated by visitors and locals. Changing daily specials are its key draw, as are the intimate atmosphere and friendly service. The biggest surprise here is that it offers gluten-free pastas and pizzas – and they are just as good as the wheat-based versions. If you follow a gluten-free diet, you will appreciate just how profound that is.

The specials are always a treat, but many visitors have found a favourite dish and they stick with it. If you can pass up what’s being offered that day, try a simple dish of Spaghetti Aglio & Olia – pasta lightly tossed with garlic, olive oil and red peppers. Gluten-free eaters will love the Pesto pasta made with almonds and pistachios.

Da Nico Risorante

New York Yankees and celebrities are often seen here along with former mayors and anybody who wants to be somebody. This is also where you’ll find the best coal brick oven pizzas. The courtyard is pleasant, or you can choose a seat inside and peruse the pictures on the wall to see who you recognize.

It is hard to argue with a good pizza, but if you give in you’ll miss out on one of the few, good restaurants that serves Spaghetti alla Carbonara. This traditional pasta dish of prosciutto, pancetta, egg yolks and cheese seems deceptively simple, but actually requires a delicate hand with the spices to get the flavours to blend.

Pellegrino’s

The perfect place to impress a date, this little restaurant is one of the newcomers to the area and the ambience is romantic. Despite only being around for 20 years, Pellegrino’s has made its mark and it plans to stay around for a long, long time. After being rated by Zagat as one of the finest Italian restaurants in Little Italy, it seems certain that they will.

The recently-revamped menu offers many seafood dishes and several vegetarian dining options. Even though you will most definitely want to save room for a bite of homemade dessert, that’s no reason to pass up the Linguina alla Sinatra made with fresh seafood in a tangy clam sauce flavoured with pine nuts.

Puglia Restaurant

Puglia opened in 1919 and has been run by the same family for that entire time. Joe Garofalo, the grandson of Gregorio, is carrying on the tradition of serving fresh, authentic Italian food in a cheerful, friendly environment. In celebration of the restaurant’s 95th year, Joe is offering 95 cent house wine on randomly selected days throughout the year.

Live music often fills the dining room as one of two resident musicians sings to the delight of diners. The menu is rustic Italian from Puglia, the region Grandpa Gregorio left to go to America. If you are craving a traditional bowl of Spaghetti with Meatballs, this is where you want to eat it.

 

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