Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Wonderful Evening in Little Italy

From the South Street Seaport, we hopped into a cab and headed over to Little Italy. It wasn't too far away actually but with day being super hot and humid ( I believe it was a little over 100F!), we decided to just spend a few extra bucks and take a cab. We have never really explored Little Italy before, well, except for those times we walked thru it to get to Chinatown and when we went for last year's Feast of San Gennaro Festival (all we saw was the back of other people's heads, cos there were just too many people :P). So, we were really excited to head over there and check out the neighborhood!
Our cab dropped us off at the edge of Little Italy and we decided to walk down Mulberry Street. Bustling with all kinds of action and activities, Mulberry Street is definitely the heart of Little Italy. Restaurants, outdoor cafes and souvenir shops line both sides of Mulberry Street. Also, the entire street is closed to traffic, so it was really fun to just slowly stroll down the street, with a drink or gelato in hand, while taking in all the sights and sounds of Little Italy.
You know you are in Little Italy when you begin to see signs like those all over the place! I bet looking for a parking spot along Mulberry Street is the least of the worries for the Gambino family :P Nahh, those are actually souvenirs from the many gift shops along Mulberry Street. You can get all kinds of Italian American souvenirs like "Proud to be Italian" t shirts, Italian flags to Italian food cookbooks and ITALIA soccer jerseys. There are also quite a few shops that sell fresh olive oil in barrels, home made fresh pasta, fresh smoked meats and all types of cheeses. I must make a mental note to return and buy some fresh pasta one of these days.
Since it was close to dinner time, we started looking out for possible dinner locations. There were just so many restaurants/cafes to choose from! Everybody had their menu out and the waiters were all standing outside, actively promoting their specials and trying to get as many customers as possible. Some of them even offered a free glass of wine with an entree or free appetizers. Sure, it sounds good initially but you gotta be really careful. A simple plate of pasta in some of these places can go for about $30-$35 bucks! Just regular pasta, nothing special. So yeah, if you were to pay $30 bucks for some pasta, suddenly a free glass of cheap wine doesn't sound all that tempting anymore :P
We continued walking (away from the crowded and popular section of Mulberry St) towards the edge of Little Italy, and thats when we saw this restaurant. It doesn't look as upmarket as the other restaurants, in fact, it was rather laid back and casual. The menu looked good and the prices were really reasonable, so we decided to have dinner there. Will blog more about that in the next post!
After dinner, we continued walking around Little Italy for a bit. We were looking for some sort of dessert when we spotted a little roadside stall selling homemade gelato and Italian ices. There were quite a lot of people in line, getting their gelatos, so I figured that the gelatos must be pretty good. You could get it in either a cup or cone and it comes in three sizes - small ($4), medium ($5) and large ($6). Apart from Chocolate and Vanilla, some of the more popular gelato flavors are Hazelnut, Cuppuccino, Pistachio and Cookies n Cream. They also have Peach, Melon, Mango, Raspberry and Lemon Italian ices as well as sugar free ices in Tangerine and Cherry flavor.
If you are not a fan of gelatos and Italian ices, they also have some yummy looking Italian desserts. You can pick up a Cannoli for $4 or a mini Cannoli for $2. You could also have a Cannoli with strawberries for $5. Apart from Cannolis, the Italian Cheesecake ($5) and Tiramisu ($6) looks good too!

Both Kevin and I decided to get a gelato each. He had a medium Cookies n Cream and I went for the medium Hazelnut. When we first looked at the cup, the small looks kinda tiny. That's why we went for the medium (yes, greedy us!). Should have gone for the small cos the medium was just wayyyy too much! Two huge scoops is more than enough for TWO people :P I guess we didn't really mind though, cos the gelato was soooooooo yummmy! Super creamy and good, seriously, it was just amazing! No wonder they pride themselves as "Little Italy's #1 Home Made Italian Ice and Ice Cream". After getting our gelatos, we happily strolled thru a few other neighborhoods before going to the WTC PATH station to catch our train home. What a wonderful way to end a fun day out in the city =)

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