Little Italy


“Well, it’s been doing business with one of our
trash companies. But now the owner’s gotten
“sick and tired” of paying our “outrageous” cartage
fees. He says he’s gonna switch to another
company. We gotta “persuade” him how stupid
that’d be.”
“You got it, Nick. Whatta you want me to
do, smack the guy around some? Bust up the
place?”
“No, moron. He can’t do any kinda business if
we go after him or his place. He’s got a kid — a
baseball player. Break one of the kid’s fingers. If
that doesn’t straighten this guy out, then we’ll
get rough.”
— conversation taking place
outside a bar in Little Italy

One of the city’s largest and most active ethnic neighborhoods, Little Italy dominates the southwestern corner of the Northside.

From 1890 to the First World War, nearly half a million Italians — most of them contadini, landless farmers seeking a prosperous life in the New World instead of settling for grinding poverty in the Old — immigrated to Hudson City.

Regardless of the negative image of Italian gangsters that arose during the Prohibition era and the 1930s, by World War II Italians were probably the most prominent and prosperous ethnic group in Hudson City. Slowly but surely, as Italians made money and entered city politics, Little Italy was transformed from little more than a wretched slum into a neighborhood of apartment buildings, brownstones, and some detached housing, intermingled with small retail and commercial districts.

LANDMARKS

  • Stewartboro
  • The southern part of Little Italy, known as Stewartsboro, is less residential and more industrial than the rest of the neighborhood. Lying along the northern bank of the Stewart, it’s always been a good location for factories, fish canneries, garment production, and similar businesses. Historically, the tenements and other residences in Stewartsboro were the worst in all of Little Italy.

  • Hunsecker Park
  • Even though LeMastre Park was just a mile or so to the east, some early residents of Little Italy wanted their own park as part of their neighborhood. The city obliged by demolishing several abandoned buildings and creating Hunsecker Park.
    Today, the results of their dedication and hard work, and that of their modern descendants, are apparent to everyone: lush lawns, small copses of cultivated trees, brightly-painted play equipment for the children.

  • Italian Heritage Museum
  • This cultural and learning institution is dedicated to the history of Italians in general, and in Hudson City in particular.

  • Lambertini’s Italian Grocery and Pizzeria
  • If even homemade Little Italian food is not enough — if you have to have genuine Italian food straight from Italy itself — then Lambertini’s is the place to go. Most of the food you’ll find there doesn’t even have English labels.

  • Salem Square
  • Salem Square is a small plaza lined with shops. The tiling and architecture roughly suggest those of Rome, but with a few modern American touches. Most of the stores sell clothing, shoes, or cosmetics for women, and the goods are often imported directly from Italy.

  • Four Kings
  • Easily recognized from its distinctive sign depicting a hand of four kings and the ace of spades, Four Kings is a cut above your typical waterfront bar… though not by much. It’s the perfect place for people who just want to sit and drink: it doesn’t play loud music, doesn’t serve food, and isn’t conducive to a lot of chit-chat.

  • Manetti’s
  • This Italian restaurant is known not only for its fine food, but for its well-stocked wine cellar. It’s said that Paul Manetti, Jr., the current owner and son of the restaurant’s founder, is such a connoisseur of Italian wines that he can identify the vineyard and vintage of one from a single sip.

  • Sicilian Oyster Bar
  • One of many “social clubs” scattered throughout Little Italy, the Sicilian Oyster Bar offers dinner, drinks, and dancing in a nice, but not overly formal, atmosphere.

  • Viva Italiana
  • The brainchild of Tuscany-trained chef Maurizio Grazioli, “Viva Italiana” restaurant has become a major success since its opened in 2008.

Little Italy

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