'Little' is the operational word in 'Little Italy' these days. As gentrification pushes out long time tenants and Chinatown encroaches on Little Italy's historic boundaries, there's not much Italian left in this lower Manhattan neighborhood. Once covering fifty square blocks, it's now down to a fraction of that. But the annual Feast of San Gennaro parade still attracts a large number of Italian-Americans from around the city.
The main drag, Mulberry Street, features a number of good (and not-so-good) Italian restaurants that mostly bring in tourists looking for an authentic experience. (Insider's tip: there's much better Italian food elsewhere in this city). On the other blocks you'll find quieter, tree-lined streets of brick apartment buildings, historic churches, small museums, and the spectacular edifice that once headquartered the New York Police and has since been converted into luxury condos (its domed penthouse was listed for USD $40M).
The great thing about Little Italy is its location: it's right in the middle of a collection of fantastic neighborhoods, all within easy walking distance.
Wall Street: 1.5 miles / 20 minutes by car / 15-20 minutes by transit
Rockefeller Center: 3 miles / 25-30 minutes by car / 20-25 minutes by transit
Jersey City: 6.5 miles / 30-35 minutes by car / 25-35 minutes by transit