Despite losing ground to Chinatown, or fancier neighborhoods like Soho/Noho, Little Italy is still a touristic attraction. But not for long most probably. According to this New York Times article, Little Italy is becoming Littler year by year. And to be honest, from a consumer’s point of view, I kind of understand it, even though it’s sad.
There are so many places in New York (some, maybe most, in Brooklyn) to get a good pizza, or a nice plate of pasta, or gelato and cannoli, that you really don’t want to risk going to an old looking restaurant in Little Italy just to fantasize about seeing someone that is or looks like a mafioso. The Gotti era, as cinematic as it was, it’s now long gone.
Sure, that doesn’t mean you should avoid the area. At the end of the day, there are still places like Parisi Bakery at 198 Mott Street (which has been around since 1903!!!), where you can get a mouth-watering chicken parmigiana & mozzarella sandwich, or newer additions like The Butcher’s Daughter, Sweetgreen or Bread – all on Kenmare St.
Or Di Palo’s – a specialty grocery store owned by Luigi Di Palo, where fifth-generation family members work in the store and sell goods online and where you can still get a taste of authentic Italy.
Martin Scorsese, the famous director (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street) grew up in this neighborhood, which later provided the inspiration for several of his films – like Mean Streets (1973) starring Robert de Niro and Harvey Keitel.
And then, of course, Little Italy is still a nice place to walk around and take photos. Which is exactly what me and my friend, the photographer Adrian Nina did on a sunny day last week.
The story behind this editorial type of shoot is the theatrical expression of Guido, the young Italian who is hustling the streets of downtown New York to climb the social ladder. You’ll see some exaggerated frowns and gestures, but that was exactly the point we were trying to make.
Enjoy! And for the record, I don’t smoke.
The shirt is Zara.
The jeans are Ralph Lauren Denim & Supply.
The scarf (at the waist) is Yves Saint Laurent.
The shoes are Il Passo.
All photos were shot by Adrian Nina. ©
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