Little Italy During Christmastime

welcome to little italy

Distance from Monmouth County, NJ: 1 hour, 10 minutes

There is absolutely nothing like New York City during the Christmas season. Between the glowing shop windows at Lord & Taylor on 5th, the Christmas Tree and ice skating at Rockefeller Center, and horse-drawn carriage rides through Central Park, the city is magical.

For many people living in New Jersey, visiting New York City during the Christmas season is pretty much a requirement. And although Midtown is certainly fun and worth seeing, my favorite hangout is Downtown in Little Italy. The shops are great, the food is phenomenal, and the atmosphere is beautiful.

Taking the train is always easy, but this time we drove into the city. The drive is not bad, but there is the hassle of finding parking. Once we found parking, we headed to Lombardi’s at 32 Spring St.

Not only is the food amazing, but it’s technically America’s first pizzeria. One of my favorite things about Lombardi’s is the ambiance. It’s not fancy. The hostess seats you at a table covered with a red-checkered table cloth, and immediately throws down paper plates, napkins, and silverware. The server comes by, asks you what you’d like, brings you a pitcher of Coke or a cocktail, and then delivers your pizza to the table.

The menu is small. But that’s OK because it can be. It’s that good.

Before the pizza, do your self, and your soul, a favor and order the wedge salad with blue  cheese.

After our salads, we ordered plain and white-ricotta pies.

Once lunch was finished, we walked to Caffe Roma at 176 Mulberry St. Definitely walk there. It’s really exciting to see Little Italy in all of its red-and-green glory decorated for Christmas. There are wreaths in every window and lights on every pole.

I ordered a double espresso and a few pignoli cookies, Danny ordered a hot chocolate and a slice of cheese cake, my sister ordered a cannoli pastry, my mother ordered tea and pignoli cookies, and my father ordered a baba.

After lunch and dessert, we went on home.

I love New York City, especially during Christmastime. I definitely think everyone should see the grand Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center and the beautiful shop windows. However, I also think everyone should visit Downtown. Although this post was primarily dedicated to my love of food, I urge everyone visiting to stop into the shops. There are dress shops, cigar shops, specialty shaving shops, leather shops… there’s even a store that just sells lampshades. It’s a seasonal delight everyone should experience.

As always, feel free to contact me at with questions, recommendations, etc. Ciao!

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