Who hasn't seen a reference to New York's Little Italy in a movie or heard a reference in a song? This trip to the city allowed me to check off several things from my bucket list, or places I wanted to see before I die. I remember seeing scenes from The Godfather Trilogy and hearing Billy Joel sing about being the Big Man on Mulberry Street and how he "made an impression on somebody north of Hester and south of Grand."
Little Italy was smaller than I expected, and seems to largely caters to tourist with its restaurants and pastry shops (my son tried his first cannoli here, after we ate pizza), although I can only speak for mid-day on a Saturday. Waiters at all the cafes and restaurants were men, dressed in the traditional black slacks and white shirt as you expect to see in Europe around the Mediterranean, and I heard several of them speaking Italian to tourists from Italy.
The Empire State Building seen looking up Mulberry Street and I imagine it makes for an incredible view after the sun sets and the lights come on.
All the buildings in Little Italy have these old iron fire escapes. This one was also adored with colorful Italian flags.
A colorful building on Hester Street in Little Italy.
I've been to Italy once, only driving south on my way to the Istria Peninsula in the former Yugoslavia, so I can't say this area of New York is an "authentic Italian experience." What I can tell you is that it is an authentic New York City experience, and that was good enough for me. I would love to come back when they close off the street and hold a local Italian festival.