Delaware has a large population of Italian-Americans. We are one of the few cities with a Little Italy with Italian-Americans still living in it. The Italian heritage is still celebrated each year with the Italian Festival that takes place in Willminton’s Little Italy each year and is one of the largest on the East Coast. Here’s a brief history of the neighborhood that still exists, albeit, small and much changed in the last twenty years.
In the early 1880s, Italian immigrants began moving into Delaware area looking for work. Some came for a short amount of time for a job, then moved back to Italy, others moved on after not finding work. Neighborhoods were established in the city of Wilmington and outside of the city in northern Delaware that ebbed and flowed. “The Hill” in Wilmington’s west side of the city is what turned into the Little Italy that still exists today. Saint Anthony’s Church and Parish was founded and became the bedrock to the community. The Carnevale, or Saint Anthony’s Italian Festival, was another big event of the community.
In more recent history, many of the restaurants that started in Wilmington’s Little Italy have turned into chains and franchises and moved out west, carrying with them a piece of East Coast Italian culture with them on a migration west.
Now, the neighborhood in Little Italy is much smaller than it had been in the last three decades, but there are a still remnants of the Italian culture that run deep in Wilmington. If you’re craving authentic Italian food and need to find an Italian restaurant in Delaware, come by and order from the pan-Mediterranean fare at Café Mezzanotte in downtown Wilmington. Our chef, Serio Pellagrino will be happy to see you!