Make your way to the outside of Cafe Gitane at 242 Mott Street to meet your English-speaking professional tour guide and uncover the interesting history behind Manhattan’s famous immigrant centres.
Your walk starts on the northern fringe of Little Italy, at Prince and Mulberry Streets, in front of Old St. Patrick's Cathedral, the first Roman Catholic church in New York City. Old St. Pat's is a reminder of the successive waves of immigrants that came through lower New York: although only few visible vestiges remain, Little Ireland originally covered much of the territory now occupied by Chinatown and Little Italy and at times had more Irish residents than Dublin.
You will then move south, passing New York's first pizzeria, founded in 1905, and head into Little Italy, stopping for authentic espresso and pastry before venturing into two of Little Italy's finest food shops, one featuring homemade pastas and another specializing in extraordinary imported Italian meats and cheeses. The heady fragrance of wheels of parmigiano reggiano pervades this small, crowded store, founded by great-grandfather DiPalo in 1910. His descendants love to talk about their products (one has moved back to Italy to manage the export business) and are generous with tastings.
As you proceed to Chinatown, you will pass dusty kitchenware shops stacked to the ceiling with crank pasta machines, rolling pins, and other culinary exotica, dry goods stores, and restaurants, where you are sure to be accosted by waiters promising the best pranzo, (lunch) a custom imported from the streets of Naples and Palermo.
Chinatown's markets are the city's most intriguing, with ingredients ranging from dried herbs and roots used medicinally, every variety of rice and noodle imaginable, to exotic fruits and vegetables. Chinatown's butchers offer Silky Black chickens and pig's blood, and the fish vendors have live fish swimming in tanks, awaiting the customer's selection.
As you meander down Mott and Mulberry Streets, see tantalizing window displays of noshing steamed dumplings, giant almond cookies, or barbecued duck, expertly chopped to order.
Make your way past Columbus Park, the scene of the riots portrayed in the motion picture Gangs of New York, and conclude your walk in front of the oldest extant dim sum parlor, dating to the 1920s.
The tour ends in Chinatown.