Neighborhood Secrets

Single dads, chirping birds and tacos: Nolita's charms go beyond Italian food

By Polly Mosendz  | June 30, 2014 - 8:59AM

Nolita--an acronym that stands for North of Little Italy--is the small, mainly residential neighborhood sandwiched between the Lower East Side and Soho. Jam-packed with walk-up buildings that recall Old New York charm, Nolita was originally a heavily Italian-American neighborhood (like nearby Little Italy), and some of the pizza joints and small groceries survive to this day.

Notable landmarks include the Puck Building, a historic office and retail building that's being partly converted to high-end penthouses (of course), and the Elizabeth Street Gallery's free outdoor sculpture garden. 

Below, neighborhood aficionados spill the inside secrets of this coveted 'hood:

Neighborhood boundaries: Kenmare to Houston Streets, and Bowery to Lafayette Street (though it's debated whether Nolita extends north of Houston).

Median sale price$2.88 million

Median rent: $3,597 

1. It's not a tourist-free zone: "It’s a lot more touristy than you expect. It’s the people that bought the 'Not For Tourists' book and think they are going off the beaten path, just to get lost in your neighborhood and ask for directions back to the hotels all the time." -Kelly, 26, lives in the Lower East Side but rented a studio in Nolita until she was priced out a month ago

Above, one of the original grocers in Nolita; these days, food options abound (Photo credit: vitelone)

2. No one knows where it starts or ends: "As a resident of Nolita, I’m going to be honest and say I have no idea what the actual boundaries are. Maybe it’s just that I’m new. But seriously, even the old school people I meet don’t seem to know where Little Italy ends and we begin, or if blocks above Houston are allowed to count as Nolita.​" -Julie, 24, rents a studio alone

3. Calling all adults: "All my single dad friends live here. It’s like the mecca of divorced dudes in the city. Want a dad buddy? Move to Nolita." -Churchill, 41, owns a three-bedroom that he shares with his twin boys "There aren’t any big dorms in the area, so it’s mostly older people. Like, people who have jobs and stuff." -Gunasheel, 23, rents a room in his brother's two-bedroom

4. Shopping? Get a granny cart pronto: "There aren’t any big grocery stores in your immediate area, so invest in one of those little buggies. They look silly but you’ll end up loving it." -Bianca, 41, rents a one-bedroom with her girlfriend "While I’m sure plenty of people would disagree, I actually think Nolita has done a good job staying away from mass gentrification. Sure, rent goes up, property sales go up, but I don’t see McDonalds and Starbucks everywhere. I think residents also try to support the local businesses here. They don’t mind having to go to three bodegas to get all of their groceries.  At least, I don’t mind. Better than having a Key Foods next door." -Churchill

Above, Milano's Bar has a great Australian bartender, says one local (Photo credit:

5. Want to network? There's a bar for that: "Tom and Jerry’s on Houston and Elizabeth is the ultimate networking bar. I always meet people pitching their start-ups there. That’s where I got offered my job." -Gunasheel "I love Milano’s Bar. It’s a weird little dive with this awesome Australian bartender. She loves country music and as it gets later into the night, she will just turn off the radio and start singing herself. Also, most of the drinks are about $5." -Kelly

6. Plus, a place for the kids to play: "DeSalvio Playground on Spring is pretty much always abandoned [so it's not crowded]My boys love it." -Churchill

7. Italian food is not the only option: "There are a lot of tacos in Nolita. The Taco Truck is often parked on Houston. Tacombi is great. Café Habana is delicious, especially the corn. I even see the subway churros lady out of the subway here. Sometimes she parks her cart on the south side of Mott and Houston." -Bianca "Ina is a really great place to shop. It’s a consignment store but very high end and super clean. There also used to be a leather shop next door. I think it’s still around. They had nice satchels." -Churchill

8. It's bliss for joggers: "It’s a great place if you like to jog. There aren’t a lot of stoplights and even cabs don’t come through here nearly as often as they do on the other side of Broadway, so I feel like I get more uninterrupted running here than in other neighborhoods." -Gunasheel "You will actually be able to hear birds chirping here. It takes some getting used to nature noises in this city." -Bianca

Above, Elizabeth Street Gallery's outdoor sculpture garden is beautiful--and free (Photo credit: Elizabeth Street Gallery)

9. Buy a MetroCard: "I prefer taking the subway to a cab around here. The streets are all so small and go in one direction, so cabbies don’t know where they are going, and have to put the address in the GPS, and then end up taking way longer. Or they think you’re a tourist lost on the way to the Crosby Hotel or something, and then drive around in circles. ... It’s a really awkward place to have a car. I used to have one but got rid of it. I just couldn’t deal with the street parking rules."​ -Bianca "I wish there were more Citi Bike parking spots here. I used to use the one on Mott Street a lot, but it’s always full.  -Gunasheel "The M and F are the worst." -Kelly "The F train is terrible. N on Spring isn’t so bad. The 4/5/6 is generally operational." -Julie

10. Taxi sweet spots: "Mulberry is the best place to [get a cab going] north." -Churchill "I just wait on Houston. Sooner or later, they’ll come. It’s easier if you stand on the side going east, more options and then they can do a U-turn." -Julie


New Yorkers who live near Times Square: Crazy or onto something?

Ridgewood: The dirt cheap, radioactive Queens nabe that may be the next Greenpoint

Living in Battery Park City means free transit, no lines at Shake Shack and lots of puppies

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.