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Di Palo's Guide photo credit: John Cameron

A Taste of New York’s Chinatown and Little Italy

Looking for a unique and delicious way to explore New York City’s history? Sample dishes from both Chinatown and Little Italy with Ahoy New York Food Tours on a guided walking tour of these two historic and culturally rich neighborhoods.

A food tour of Chinatown and Little Italy offers a glimpse into the history, culture, and traditions of these immigrant communities that have shaped New York for generations. Along the way, you’ll stop at different locations to sample a variety of dishes: dumplings, noodles, cheese, cannoli plus a sit-down lunch with beer, wine, or non-alcoholic choices.

You’ll visit landmarks such as the oldest church in Manhattan, the former Five Points, and the site of the first pizzeria in the USA and learn about the famous and infamous characters that lived and worked in these areas, including politicians and gangsters.

On a sunny Monday morning, we met our Ahoy New York guide, Hanna, and the other six travelers at the Silk Road Cafe in Chinatown for a pot of tea. Hanna explained that tea is an essential part of Chinese culture and that China produces six main types of tea, each with its own characteristics and health benefits. The delicate jasmine green milk tea we enjoyed aided digestion.

Nom Wah Tea Parlor, Chinatown, New York
Nom Wah Tea Parlor photo credit: Sherel Purcell

From there, we walked to Nom Wah Tea Parlor, the oldest dim sum restaurant in New York. We snacked on their original egg roll, which looked quite different from the usual egg rolls. It was crispy on the outside and filled with chicken and vegetables.

Sponge Cake on Doyers Street, Chinatown, New York

We next sampled a Hong Kong-style sponge cake, which was light and fluffy with a subtle pandan flavor. The fluorescent green color of the sponge cake is not from food dye but is naturally colored and flavored with the pandan plant.

We enjoyed a picnic snack of Beijing dumplings in Columbus Park. Beijing-style dumplings are richer flavored, heartier dumplings with thicker skin and a fried bottom. A natural raconteur, Hannah told us the park, previously Dutch farmland, was named by local Italians and was the site of The Five Points, one of the roughest neighborhoods in NYC’s history.

Piemonte Ravioli, Little Italy, New York
Piemonte Ravioli photo credit: John Cameron

We then walked along Mulberry Street to our first stop in Little Italy, Piemonte Ravioli. Piemonte has been serving fresh pasta since 1920. We munched on tender ricotta gnocchis with a rich homemade marinara sauce.

Our next destination on Grand Street was Di Palo’s Fine Foods, which has been selling Italian specialties since 1910, way before Eataly. We tried two kinds of cheese, a Piave, my favorite, and a Pecorino with some Castelvetrano olives, the perfect martini olive.

Di Palo's, Little Italy, New York
Di Palo’s photo credit: John Cameron

We then visited Benito One, where we traded travel stories with our new friends over a lunch of Eggplant Rollatini with a marinara sauce, accompanied by a glass of red wine.

The final stop of our food tour of Chinatown and Little Italy was Ferrara Bakery and Café, where we enjoyed a traditional Sicilian dessert, cannolis – a crispy shell filled with sweet ricotta cream.

Ferrara Bakery and Café, Little Italy, New York
Ferrara Bakery and Café photo credit: Sherel Purcell

The Ahoy New York Food Tour lasts about three hours and covers two miles on foot, so comfortable shoes are advised. Bring your appetite too. We were so full we skipped dinner. If you love food and culture, take this opportunity to explore two of the tastiest neighborhoods in New York on this fun and informative walking tour.

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