Posts Tagged ‘Rao’s’

Two of the nicest street names in New York City

July 11, 2009

Bliss Street has a sweet ring to it, doesn’t it? It’s the original, early 20th century moniker of what was later renamed 46th Street in Sunnyside, Queens.

BlissstreesignBliss Street is probably associated with Neziah Bliss, a ship builder and real estate bigwig back when this part of Queens was farmland dotted with little villages.

In the mid-1800s, he founded a blink-and-you’ll miss-it industrial neighborhood bordering Long Island City called Blissville. The name barely survives today.

In 1982, Sunnyside residents decided they wanted Bliss Street added back to the map. It’s also the name of the nearby 7 train stop, 46th Street–Bliss Street.

Pleasant Avenue is, yep, pretty pleasant. This six-block stretch east of First Avenue between 114th and 120th Street was once the center of Italian-American East Harlem.

Pleasantavesign

It still has a rep for being a mob stronghold; Tony Salerno ran the Genovese crime family from here. And Italian restaurant Rao’s is tucked into a corner storefront at the south end of the street.

On warm weekends, a nearby playground is always flooded with little kids having a good time.

Ninth Avenue’s shrinking Little Italy

March 30, 2009

There used to be several Italian neighborhoods in Manhattan, like the Pleasant Avenue vicinity in East Harlem (still home to Rao’s, the Mafia and celeb hangout) and in the South Village centered along Bleecker Street.

Ninth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen was another one. The neighborhood is now Duane Reade-ified and its ethnic groups (Irish, Italian, Greek, among others) dispersed, but some of these old Italian-American businesses survive.

Like Mazzella’s Market, selling produce for more than 75 years:

mazzellasmarket

Not too many store signs contain the word “grosseria” anymore:

manganarogrosseria

Rib bellies! Smoked loins! Pig toes! All that and more are available at Esposito Pork Shop:

espositoporkshop