Although the NoLIta neighborhood in Lower Manhattan only spans a dozen city blocks, it is an essential part of the metropolis.
NoLIta, "North of Little Italy," is now a catchall term for modern, diversified food. You'll find it difficult to decide where to eat in NoLIta if you walk the streets limited by SoHo to the west, Houston Street to the north, and the Bowery to the east.
Prima e Dopo, the first pizzeria in the United States, opened on Spring Street approximately one hundred years ago. The pies at this establishment are still some of the best coal-fired around.
What makes a pie from Prima e Dopo so great? Their secret is using a screaming hot coal oven to cook thin, crispy pies with just the right smoky flavor. These pizzas are truly perfection and are topped with San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil.
NoLIta is also home to some of the city's most inventive eateries, such as Asiadog (66 Kenmare St.), which transforms one of America's most unappetizing ballpark foods into a fine meal.
These dogs are anything for those who don't enjoy "filthy water dogs" (for those, head to Fifth Avenue). They're garnished with kimchee and Thai relish, just like their counterparts in Asia.
There is no better illustration of a niche market for gourmet versions of familiar dishes than NoLIta's Rice to Riches. This open, contemporary boutique on Spring Street only sells rice pudding.
You will be won over by the sheer variety of flavors, which includes Coast to Coast Cheesecake and Hazelnut Chocolate Bear Hug. (Obviously not your grandmother's rice pudding.)
NoLIta can compete with NYC in the cupcake wars. Two of the most popular bakeries known for their pastel-frosted mini cakes, Billy's Bakery (268 Elizabeth St.) and The Little Cupcake Bakery (30 Prince St.), have locations here. They are conveniently located only a few blocks from each other, so you could easily hit up both places during your tasting.
If the abundance of delicious food in NoLIta makes it difficult for you to discover it on your own, City Food Tours' Eat a Bit of Ethnic New York Tour helps you skip some of the hassles and experience the finest that the area has to offer.
During this two-hour walking tour, you'll taste a range of sweet and salty foods at least six times, including the best New York cheesecake, Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches, freshly made mozzarella, handcrafted sweets, and savory ethnic goodies from Mexico, China, Israel, Vietnam, and France.
On this delicious tour, you'll learn everything there is to know about this ancient area, which used to be a mafia stronghold.
NoLIta was once a part of Little Italy, but it has developed its own distinct identity in recent years. However, because the boutique shopping on Mott and Mulberry Streets in NoLIta is just as trendy as anything you'd find on the other side of Broadway, it can be difficult to tell where the fashionable shops of nearby SoHo begin.
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In the time it takes for your table to be ready, you may shop for a completely new outfit at places like the highly-publicized Charlotte Ronson boutique (239 Mott), the luscious Italian shoes at Coclico (275 Mott St.), and the custom-tailored jeans at True Boutique (278 Mott).
You can also discover shoes in NoLIta that you wouldn't find in your neighborhood malls, such as the eye-catching printed heels at Irregular Choice (276 Lafayette St.) and John Fluevog's distinctive designs for men and women (250 Mulberry St.).
For purses and totes, skip the Canal Street knockoffs and head to Blue Bag (266 Elizabeth St.), where authentic designer bags from all over the world are sold (Kate Moss and Jessica Simpson shop there).
NoLIta is a foodie's paradise, with some of the most inventive and delicious eats in New York City. If you're looking for something outside of the norm or just want to explore some new flavors, Nolita is worth a visit.
With so many great bakeries, ethnic restaurants, and trendy boutiques, you could easily spend an entire day (or weekend!) indulging in everything this neighborhood offers.
If you're looking for more places to eat in New York City, check out these: