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Jun 27, 2002 12:09 AM

Is there a Little Italy in L.A?

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Haven't heard of one but every other big city I've lived in has had one - let me know! Thanks in advance.


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  1. There is no Little Italy in Los Angeles. Most of the areas are Asian in nature and not European.

    15 Replies
    1. re: Eric

      The three major ethnic groups in the Socal/OC area are Asian, which are subdivided with Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese; Hispanic, divided mostly into Mexican-Central American and Cuban-Carribean and finally Soul Food-Barbque.

      Scattered throughout are various other small enclaves such as the Ethiopian places on and around Fairfax in the mid-cities area and Jewish/Kosher in the same area more or less, (with plenty of outlying examples as well).

      Then we have a variety of food from around the world, mostly found in the areas where business rents are cheaper.

      But groups that centered together when they came to the East Coast were well established by the time that individuals of those groups came to LA and had no need for the type of community grouping here that their parents or grandparents or great gp's needed and wanted in the East. Those LA groups were the aforementioned Asian and Mexican-Central American immigrants.

      1. re: WLA

        You are so wrong!!!
        near Vermont & Hollywood towards Western used to be several Italian Deli's and tradtional restaurants. Also in San Gabriel Vally near Valley Blvd. and San Gabriel is Petrillos Pizza (old School) and Claros Italian Market. This area used to be very Italian. I gre up in SoCal and i remeber all these things

        1. re: Burger Boy

          And lets not forget the San Antonio Winery near Chinatown. The Chinese and the Italians have always been very close when they established the communities. San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago.........

          1. re: Burger Boy

            let's not forget Lanza Bros., a market established in 1924 and still in the family........they make a great sandwich!!! 2 blocks away from the San Antonio Winery across from the Brewery Art Lofts....(just before the 5 Fwy. overpass................

            1. re: slowrider

              You are so Right!!! Can you bring me a combo sandwich for lunch...................

              1. re: Burger Boy

                Young Sir, I would, but it is my last day at the dreaded office before departing at 4:30 A.M. for my beloved Ireland (3 wks.) and alas, there is no time for lunch......(sigh)............

                1. re: slowrider

                  Maybe this person just wants to know some of our favorite Italian places, authentic that is...
                  I like a little place on Larchmont, mid-city, called Botega...just like the little places in Italy

          2. re: Burger Boy

            Probably just a failure to communicate. I was not, am not, saying that there haven't been groupings of things or places Italian here in LA. Just not to the extent that you find with the type of immigrant communities in NYC or Boston, and which LA has in terms of Asian and Hispanic communities. The European immigrants were much more completely assimilated by the time they got to LA in any numbers, and had the language skills and economic resources to make it in general society, if they chose to. This was a positive for them as they were able to sell or do business with a much larger segement of the population. And now, back to the chow. Ciao.

          3. re: WLA

            Funny, I wasn't aware that Barbecue was an ethnic group.

            7. Ethnic/Racial Affiliation

            ( ) Caucasian
            ( ) African-American
            ( ) Hispanic/Latino
            ( ) Asian
            ( ) Pacific Islander
            ( ) Native American
            ( ) Barbecue
            ( ) Other (Please explain ____________________)

            Italians who migrated to California tended to go to San Francisco, which was (at the time of the highest level of Italian immigration) the largest city and commercial centre; Los Angeles was not yet a large city.

            So far as I know, there is not, in fact, a large Italian neighbourhood in Los Angeles. There are groups of two or three or five businesses, but certainly nothing along the lines of North Beach or Little Italy or New Jersey or North Boston.

            As for the largest minority population in Los Angeles, I suspect it's European/Caucasian. In terms of largest group of recent immigrants, Hispanic in general and Mexican in particular, then Asian in general and Chinese in particular.

            I don't mind the way it's set up, it means I'm never too far from a great Italian shop (Claro's springs to mind).

            1. re: PRSMDave

              Actually, isn't barbecue derived from the French, barbe? So, where's Little Paris?

              1. re: mc michael

                I think BBQ is from the Africans, they where cooking over open fires long before the French peasants....excuse my spelling.

                1. re: Burger Boy

                  This is a digression of course but the origin of BBQ is in the Caribbean Indian word, "barbecoa". The Spanish adopted the practice of long, slow cooking in a pit and it took firm root in the American south. Grilling on the Weber is not barbecuing.

            2. re: WLA

              Don't forget Little India in Artesia and the few blocks of Iranian businesses (my Iranian friend says that the term Persian is only for rugs and cats) in Westwood.

            3. re: Eric

              Probably the closest thing going decades back was North Broadway in what is now Chinatown. The Italian catholic church is still there and that's probably why Little Joe's was located there.

              1. re: Eric

                "most of the areas are asian.."...!!!
                ever been to the eastside?
                not the eastside you westenders talk about.....silverlake, echo park etc........
                the real eastside of Los Angeles.......we call it East Los........anything East of the L.A. River where the real Eastside begins.......excluding of course Monterey Park........
                Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, El Sereno, City Terrace, Boyle Heights, El Monte, Cudahy, Bell Gardens, most of San Gabriel, South of Pasadena (not South Pasadena), Azuza, Highland Park etc.......the list goes on and on.....know the demography before you post!!
                This is a Los Angeles Board, not an Orange County Board!!..............

              2. I've been looking for one as well. Recently moved here from Boston and miss the North End.

                I've made due so far with the different Italian stores that have been mentioned on this site. So far I have visited Marios in Glendale and Monte Carlo in Burbank.

                Marios seemed to be more focused on sandwiches etc. I had a great sandwich there. They have italian staples and I got some of their sauce which was delicious.

                Monte Carlo has a restaurant on one side, a store at the other. Greater selection of stuff than Marios. I actually hear people speaking italian in here -- customers and staff. Prices were very reasonable and I found quite a few things I'd been looking for.

                Still haven't been to Bay Cities or Claro's yet, so I don't know how they compare.

                1 Reply
                1. re: LisaN

                  Claro's is great! Bay Cities can be a little pricey, but they have some interesting stuff alos and a good selection.

                2. To paraphrase Will Rogers, it's not what people don't know that's the problem - it's what they know for sure that just ain't so.

                  Before the 1930's, LA's chinatown (which was diminishing as were all US chinatown's because of the illegality of Chinese immigration - see Chinese Exclusion Act) was centered South and East of Olvera St. where Union Station now stands. When Union Station was developed, the land was sold out from under the Chinatown (much of the land was owned by others) and developers within the Chinese community decided to develop New chinatown (that's what the sign says) as a mall a la Crossroads of the World. That area, North Broadway, North Spring etc. extending over towards Echo Park along Sunset had been the Little Italy - theItalian section of the city.
                  If you read Frank Capra's autobiography, he gives a pretty good description of the area.
                  With the growth of the Chinese community after WWII, esp. after the removal of the Chinese Exclusion Act, many immigrants came to that area. At the same time, the local Italian community became more and more assimilated and newer immigrants from Italy to Southern California tended to be more educated, have greater financial resources and less inclined to live in an Italian neighborhood.
                  So there were some remnants until relatively recently in the area, Little Joe's, Dario's sandwiches, Capra's Bakery (I and II, in Echo Park and along Glendale in Atwater), etc. There is still the Casa Italiana cultural center and St. Joseph's (?) church on N. Broadway.
                  BTW the Lower East Side in New York is no longer Jewish and it's been a while since Beacon Hill in Boston was all that black (yes it once was).
                  There also was once a definite Serbian part of LA and San Pedro still has Croatian and Norwegian neighborhoods.
                  And as this thread as little to do with restaurants or food, I completely expect it to be deleted.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Jerome

                    And the Jewish sextion of Los Angeles was East LA, Canter's was located there before they moved, 2 of the 3 Stooges are buried in the Evergreen Jewish Cemetary.

                    1. re: Burger Boy

                      True enough. remember, the big years of Italian immigration ended in 1924 as did the large Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe. both were ended by the immigration laws passed in 1924 which had quotas based on the 1890 census which consequently gave more spaces to Northern and Western Europeans, primarily Germans and UK.
                      That's also the period of the beginning of largescale Latin-American migration (no quotas on Latin America in 1924 law).

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