When Nook Sales Experts match a buyer with their dream home, the only thing as important as architectural style is the neighborhood. That’s why we’re bringing you the #NookNeighborhoods series, where every Wednesday you’ll find cool history and culture to make sure you don’t overlook an area that could have the best nook for you.
Little Italy sits on a hill in the northwest end of San Diego. Starting in the 19th century, Italian immigrants built the boats to sustain the fishing industry which turned the area into the “tuna capital” of the United States. This trade supported an influx of immigrants from ITaly and nearby countries.
Marco Li Mandri, Chief Executive Administrator of The Little Italy Association of San Diego, offers a bit of history and culture to explain how Little Italy maintains its role as a staple of San Diego’s prosperity: "Our business district is rooted in the toil of immigrants and the perseverance and optimism of a new group of business owners. The strength of their faith and our proximity to the waterfront is what has supported families in Little Italy for generations."
Although you can find many Little Italy neighborhoods throughout the country, it is only this one which has an association dedicated to its businesses and community. They organize regular and special events every month to keep residents and tourists alike returning to their nook, like Trick or Treat on India Street where businesses open their doors for special Halloween fun. Every week, rain or shine, they also host Little Italy Mercato. You can find over 200 vendors of fresh produce, newly caught fish and everything else that makes your mouth water. Plus, there is no equal to the Little Italy Tree Lighting and Christmas Village; Santa Claus himself rides into the festivities on a fire truck, beginning a joyful evening of photographs, carolling and of course, shopping at the fine stores surrounding you.
Knowing the popularity of India Street today, it’s hard to believe that at one point in recent Little Italy history, 1996 to be exact, it had to be revitalized. They installed an attractive sign, planted colorful trees, rebuilt the streets, and placed tables and chairs along the sidewalk to invite the community to linger and mingle. All of this, plus rebuilding the Washington Elementary School and adjoining park make Little Italy a Nook Neighborhood that accurately catches the vibe of the generations of people who live here.
Along with a number of mixed use and high-rise residential buildings, there are development projects that aim to capture the flavor of its neighborhood’s history. The Doma mid-rise was designed to feel as though different people created its different buildings at different times, even though the entire block was developed at the same time. Numerous architects have taken their own style into Little Italy, merging it with folklore and the stories of entire generations who lived there their whole life
I hesitate to mention the food available to you here, because just writing about Little Italy is making my stomach growl. There is also no way I could attempt to detail the dining options without making you want to run down there right now or without missing one of your favorites. Yet I must try. So I will simply leave you with Bencotto; visit Little Italy and enjoy the pasta dishes at this neighborhood staple. Choose your own type of pasta and flavorful sauce to savor in this open dining area that enjoys natural light streaming onto your meal. There are multiple choices for plates to share and cheese plates that you cannot resist. In short, Bencotto is one of the best that San Diego’s Little Italy has to offer.