NoLita, NYC Neighborhood Guide

While comprising a relatively small footprint—the entire neighborhood essentially consists of four east-west blocks and four north-south blocks—NoLita is a popular destination for visitors looking to shop, eat, and drink in style. One of Lower Manhattan’s newer neighborhoods, NoLita’s reputation as trendy area full of fashionable shops, trendy restaurants, and buzz-worthy bars has grown more and more prominent in recent years. Combining the sophistication of nearby SoHo with the rich history of neighboring Little Italy, NoLita is a rewarding place to spend some time.

NoLita Neighborhood History

Until approximately 30 years ago, the area characterized today as NoLita was simply considered part of the Little Italy neighborhood. As Little Italy evolved throughout the latter portion of the twentieth century—undergoing significant changes that saw particular pockets of the neighborhood lose their traditional Italian characteristics on account of rising rents and related demographic changes—assorted city leaders sought to rebrand the increasingly hip area as its own distinctive entity. In time, the name NoLita stuck, and ever since the neighborhood’s profile has steadily increased.

Exploring NoLita

Visitors to NoLita today will still find many continuities between the rich traditions of nearby Little Italy and the happening streets of contemporary NoLita. That’s because legendary movies like Mean Streets and The Godfather shot on location here, as did the iconic television show The Sopranos. Fans of these works will have a blast hunting down the various sites of some of their favorite scenes in between meals and stores.

The historic Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral is located right in the heart of NoLita. This remarkable structure was completed in 1815, and is open to the public today for tours conducted by Tommy’s New York. Their popular Catacombs by Candlelight Tour is a 90-minute walking tour that takes you deep into the basilica, along the way showing you the walled cemeteries where some of New York’s most famous citizens were buried.

NoLita’s real draw is its shopping and dining scene (more on both of those below). Otherwise, given its small size, there are not many traditional attractions found within its boundaries. Still, given its proximity to several other popular New York City neighborhoods, there’s plenty else to see and do near NoLita. Additional popular attractions located close to NoLita include New Museum, the Museum of Chinese in America, and the Museum of Ice Cream, just to name a few.

One of those delightful New York City neighborhoods whose geographic location is found right there in its name, NoLita is the area “North of Little Italy.” It’s also bordered to the west by SoHo, to the north by NoHo, and to the east by the Lower East Side.

NoLita Dining

NoLita is a dining hot spot, its blocks lined with fabulous places to do dinner and/or drinks in a wide variety of styles and cuisines. For many, the centerpiece of this happening food scene is the bustling Spring Street. There you’ll encounter an outstanding selection of lively cafés, hip bars, and falafel joints, as well as some of the best bagels in all of New York City—which is really saying something!

Underscoring NoLita’s origins as part of the Little Italy neighborhood, the area is also full of fine Italian restaurants. In fact, the world-famous Lombardi’s Pizza can be found right here in NoLita on Spring Street. Operating since 1905, this classic establishment is considered by many to be the first pizza place found anywhere in the United States, making it a pilgrimage for devotees of New York-style pies.


Many visitors are drawn to NoLita first and foremost on account of its burgeoning reputation as one of New York City’s best shopping destinations. Again, though NoLita occupies but a small slice of Lower Manhattan, it features plenty of independent businesses, designer boutiques, and specialty shops.

NoLita Shoppers in the market for truly unique footwear will not want to miss John Fluevog Shoes, a beloved boutique occupying its NoLita location for over 30 years. Those in the market of a taste of Parisian luxury in the middle of New York City will need to head directly to L’Appartement Sézane, whose NoLita address is one of the chic vintage brand’s only brick-and-mortar stores anywhere in the world.

Other local favorites would have to include Love Adorned—where you purchase everything from jewelry to books, art supplies, apothecary items, greeting cards, and more—and Everlane, a clothing brand known for its dedication to transparently sourcing their t-shirts, sweaters, and shoes from their “ethical factories.” When in doubt, though, take a chance and pop into whatever business catches your eye!

Explore NoLita Like a Local

  • If you’re intrigued by the notion of going on the Catacombs by Candlelight Tour, it’s crucial you keep in mind that this Tommy’s New York experience takes you through the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral. That’s right, the more famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral is not part of this guided tour. Rather, it’s located on 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. The Catacombs by Candlelight Tour is still well worth your time, it just doesn’t include St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
  • Lombardi’s Pizza might take the headlines, but many locals swear by Rubirosa on Mulberry Street. Situated a short walk from the Museum of Ice Cream, this cozy spot does great pizza as well as modern takes on Italian favorites.
  • You’ve done the research, you’ve read the reviews, you know exactly where you want to go for that special NoLita meal. Well, that’s great, but don’t blow it by failing to make a reservation! When in doubt, if you’ve got your heart set on dining at a particular restaurant, book your spot in advance of your visit.