There'll be amore and more in Italian neighborhoods across the USA this Columbus Day weekend. Mario Batali, award-winning chef, TV personality and restaurateur (Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca in New York), shares his favorite Little Italys.
"Corbo's Bakery has the best cassata (cake) I have tried in the USA," Batali says. "Every August, the Feast of the Assumption is celebrated in Little Italy with a four-day party." Don't overlook the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Botanical Garden, theater at Playhouse Square Center, Cleveland Orchestra and enough ethnic restaurants to eat your way around the globe without leaving town. littleitalycleveland.com
"Even though it no longer resembles its 19th-century heyday, there is still a great deal that is authentic here. On Grand Street, stop by Di Palo Fine Foods for a Ph.D. lesson in the various ages of Parmigiano Reggiano. Stroll down the street to Caffe Roma on Broome Street for the ultimate Italian pastry and a perfect caffè corretto, a shot of espresso with a shot of liquor, usually grappa, brandy or sambuca," Batali says. littleitalynyc.com
"Stop by Scialo Brothers Bakery and then head to Venda Ravioli for a beautiful lunch with fresh pasta made every day from scratch, all served in a delightful little piazza with opera music blaring from tiny speakers in a Fellini-style setting," Batali says. Stay at the ultra-modern Hotel Dolce Villa on the same little piazza, then catch one of the season's final WaterFire events, spectacular bonfire displays on the river. goprovidence.com
"Palermo Delicatessen has imported foods from Sicily and other regions of Italy. Folks line up for the Dungeness crab salad sandwich and toasted focaccia," Batali says. "Stella Pasticceria e Caffe, also in the neighborhood, was a favorite of Pavarotti. Have the prized sacripantina cake, a spongecake made with rum. Two other local favorites: Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store, which serves delicious meatball focaccia sandwiches, and Molinari Delicatessen, famous for its salami and other dried meats." sfnorthbeach.org
"Less touristy than its downtown counterpart, here are a few great spots you must try in this vibrant Little Italy," Batali says. "Many of the city's best chefs buy their seafood at Cosenza's Fish Market, where people enjoy the outdoor clam bar and oyster bar. Biancardi's butcher shop sells everything from prime steaks and chops to whole baby goats and tripe. Around the corner on 187th Street at De Lillo Pastry Shop, the anise-scented biscotti are among my faves." ilovethebronx.com
"All along Taylor Street, the main thoroughfare here, you'll find a bunch of Italian restaurants — from bakeries and sandwich shops to fine dining," Batali says. "Taylor Street also has the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. The Original Ferrara Bakery on Taylor Street is still here. Sixteen-year-old Salvatore Ferrara brought the art of Italian pastry-making and confectionery with him when he emigrated in 1900. Ferrara's has some of the best cannoli in the city." choosechicago.com
9th Street Italian Market