Nolita, derived from “North of Little Italy,” is one of Manhattan’s newest designated neighborhoods. Originally grouped in with SoHo or Little Italy, Nolita has lost much of its Italian presence, though some remnants from over a century ago remain. Nolita is bounded by Houston Street, Bowery, Broome Street, and Lafayette Street, making it one of Manhattan’s smallest neighborhoods. Despite its size, Nolita is a diverse neighborhood – with its own Little Paris, Australia, and Israel – packed with mysterious and fascinating. Here are the top 14 secrets of Nolita!
1. Nolita has its own “Little Paris” as of 2022
As of 2022, New York City has its own “Little Paris,” located in Nolita. The enclave is located on Centre Street between Broome and Grand Streets, parallel to the fittingly named Lafayette Street, named after the most famous Frenchman to fight in the American Revolution. The effort to designate the new neighborhood has been led by Coucou French Classes, whose founders Léa and Marianne Perret noted that present-day SoHo was in the late 1800s a flourishing quartier français. The heart of Little Paris is located across from the old Police Headquarters Building, which may have been inspired by Paris City Hall, l’Hôtel de Ville.
Maman, at 239 Centre Street, is a popular French café, bakery, and event space, known for dishes including banana-lavender cornmeal waffles with vanilla mascarpone. Deals include a two-for-$10 bundle on its assortment of baked goods, traditional fare like pain perdu, and sophisticated offerings like “un deux trois,” a fig and olive tapenade, and herb-whipped feta with toasted country bread. La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, at 249 Centre Street is a sophisticated wine bar designed by Parisian interior designer Dorothée Meilichzon. Further down Centre Street is Clic, a decor and lifestyle store opened in 2008 by Christiane Celle. And of course, Coucou French Classes offers a selection of native-taught courses for learners of all skills.
In addition to Nolita’s strong Italian presence and a growing French community, the area also has a small and unofficial Little Australia and Little Israel. On Mott Street, there is an Australian-inspired cafe called Two Hands serving up dishes including mushroom toast and lemon poppyseed waffles. Little Ruby’s Cafe, which opened in 2002, has blended local produce with Australian culinary influences, leading to dishes like vegemite toast, the Bondi burger, and rice bowls. Mud Australia Store, which originally began in Sydney, opened a Nolita location recently, selling dinnerware and home decor. The Flower Shot on Eldridge Street is another Australian-owned business near the neighborhood with options like fish and chips, mushroom rigatoni, and pan-seared salmon.
Though not as large, there is a sizeable Israeli community in Nolita. Shoo Shoo provides a contemporary take on Mediterranean cuisine with an emphasis on the staples of Tel Aviv. Dishes include steak shishlik, shakshuka, harissa burgers, and lamb arayes. Also popular is 19 Cleveland, an Israeli restaurant with an entire section called “From Tel Aviv,” as well as land and sea options taking inspiration more broadly from the Middle East. Taïm, which means “tasty” in Hebrew, is a more fast-casual concept in Nolita with customizable bowls and pitas.