Volpe Bar (Mean Streets, 1973)
Address: 23 Cleveland Place
Much of the action in Scorsese's breakout feature, Mean Streets (1973), is set inside Volpe a bar owned by one of the film's four principal characters. The characters, all Italian-Americans living in a neighborhood strangled by tradition and Catholicism, congregate at the bar. In the film's early scenes, it is a space where they exert some control over their lives. Of course, this being Scorsese, control is lost and lives devolve into violence and pain. In one particularly vivid scene, a character is shot inside the bar. Drunk and bleeding, he staggers out into the litter covered streets and dies.
The neighborhood is considerably different in 2011. SoHo has encroached on what was once strictly Little Italy, meaning you're more apt to find designer boutiques and expensive pastries than bookies and constricting religious doctrine. What was once Volpe is now the former Va Tutto! restaurant, itself closed and encased in scaffolding, awaiting the next commercial iteration of the address. People sit outside on their lunch breaks, unwrapped and crinkled aluminum foil spread out in their laps, warm street food in their hands. The key line from Mean Streets is, "You don't make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets." That has less application here now.