Almost Every New Yorker knows that Brooklyn was a predominantly Italian borough in the 80s and 90s, even if it is not so today. The borough of homes once housed the largest majority of Italian Americans in enclaves strewn across the locality. However, due to the rampant gentrification all over New York, many Italian neighborhoods are now sans Italians and populated by mostly Asian immigrants. But despite the migration of most Italian residents from the historically Italian Brooklyn neighborhoods, the atmosphere and cafes there still carry an Italian presence. This is why even today, some Brooklyn boroughs appear every bit as Italian as they once were.
Here is a quick rundown of some of the Italian neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
If you ever read about the Italian population in Brooklyn, then you would be well aware of the name Bensonhurst as it is recognized as the most Italian neighborhood in the area. In the 80s and 90s, Bensonhurst was the den of Italian immigrants, but today a mixed population based on multiple religious and ethnic groups lives in this part of Brooklyn. But even without its Italian patrons, Bensonhurst still holds on to the Italian culture that is now enjoyed by people from diverse cultural backgrounds. The famous Italian market D. Coluccia & Sons and the unapologetically Italian restaurant, Ortobello, are the highlights of this side of Brooklyn. But if you want to indulge in thin-crusted pizzas generously topped with cheese and pepperonis, then you need to visit Lenny’s Pizza on 86th street. The most prominent cultural festival held at Bensonhurst is the Feast of Santa Rosalia, which is a 10-day Sicilian carnival with thrilling rides and fantastic Italian fare.
Despite being a residential community adjacent to Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights is a tourist hotspot because of its famous light displays that make an appearance during the holiday season. Travelers flock towards the Italian neighborhood around Christmas to snap pictures and enjoy the warm and welcoming atmosphere in Dyker Heights.
Aside from the extravagant light displays, the residential borough also houses many authentic Italian restaurants and markets.
Have a square slice at L&B Spumoni Garden, nosh a hearty meal at Mama Rao’s, or buy authentic Italian ingredients from La Bella Marketplace to fix an Italian dinner yourself.
Williamsburg takes pride in being the host of Brooklyn’s wildly popular July San Genario festival organized by Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. It is a traditionally Italian swathe dotted with old-world southern Italian style restaurants. But while there are many authentic Italian diners in the area, the highlight remains Batmonte, which the ultimate eatery for a classic Italian meal.
Carroll Gardens and Red Hook
Used as the setting for the 1980s film, Moonstruck, Carroll Gardens, and Red Hook was once densely populated by Italians. However, now the Italian enclave is home to a diverse mix of people. You might not find very many Italian residents in the area, but you’ll certainly find a host of Italian restaurants and bakeries. Caputo’s, Mazzola Bakery, Monteleone’s, and the Court Street Pastry shop are some of the most frequented places to grab delectable Italian treats.
Experience the essence of Italy in Brooklyn by visiting these neighborhoods!