New York City has more Italian-Americans than any other place in the United States. Over two million Italians immigrated to the U.S. in the years between 1900 and 1910 alone, and many of them ended up spread across the boroughs of New York — in Manhattan’s Little Italy and East Harlem (once called Italian Harlem), along Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, in Howard Beach, Queens, and on Staten Island.
In Brooklyn, neighborhoods like Carroll Gardens and Bay Ridge saw an influx of Italian immigrants, but to many, the true heart of Italian Brooklyn is Bensonhurst. The neighborhood is home to Brooklyn’s own Little Italy, to this day a prime destination for anyone seeking out authentic Italian-American cuisine. From a traditional red sauce joint to out-of-this-world pizza to more experimental newcomers, here are six of our favorite Bensonhurst spots.
For authentic Italian food, head straight to Orobello’s, an old-school, family-style Italian restaurant that serves reliably huge portions. Be ready to share! Top dishes include the chicken parmigiana, baked clams, stuffed artichokes, and their signature pasta dish, the Frank Sinatra.
Photo courtesy of Melissa N. via Yelp.
Italia Pizza | Misha I. via Foursquare
Is pizza one of Italy’s greatest gifts to New York? We’re going to say yes. For a really good pie, try Italia Pizza in Bensonhurst. It’s reasonably priced, and comes with friendly and efficient service. These guys know how to make a good crust — it comes out thin and crispy but still soft in the middle. Try the Margarita pie (topped with fresh basil) alongside an order of garlic knots and a rice ball, and you’re good to go.
Prosciutto and fresh mozzarella panini | Panino Rustico via Facebook
This neighborhood paninoteca serves gourmet sandwiches, salads, crêpes, pastries, and espresso drinks. These panini cannot be beat — try the goat cheese and spinach or the prosciutto. Enjoy it outside on the patio, and you’ll feel just like you’re in Italy.
Pork and sweet peppers | Franny A. via Yelp
La Palina Restaurant
La Palina has been around since the 1930s, so you know that these guys know what they’re doing. Here, you’ll find classic Neapolitan cuisine in an classic setting. Come for a traditional Italian Sunday dinner and order the baked clams (a signature dish here), fried calamari, and the linguine with clam sauce. Top it all off with the restaurant’s homemade sangria and then spumoni for dessert.
A Euopa Pizzeria pie | Lydia C. via Yelp
Eurpopa is Brooklyn’s best kept pizza secret, serving up some seriously good brick-oven pies. The toppings are fresh and inventive, like the mozzarella, ham, and artichoke combo. Europa also serves solid Italian dishes and pasta, like penne alla vodka and calamari. It’s a good pick for a pleasant, sit-down pizza meal.
Grilled octopus | Susanna L. via Yelp
This casual Italian restaurant does it all: old-world pasta dishes, meats, seafood, and brick-oven pizza. You can’t go wrong with the dishes here — you’ll even get to watch the chefs cook your order in the restaurant’s open kitchen. Grilled octopus, shrimp scampi, clams with red sauce and linguine, tiramisu… hungry yet? Overall, an authentic, well-prepared Italian meal for a good price.