Take a Tour of the Bronx’s Arthur Avenue

Posted on February 25, 2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

In a city that thrives on the fast-paced and modern, one iconic neighborhood still does things the old-fashioned way—with family-owned shops, local pride and a gregarious personality that keeps people flocking back. Denizens of the Bronx’s famed Arthur Avenue proudly call their home “the Real Little Italy” thanks to its classic Italian charm and fresh, authentic fare.

Located in the Belmont section of the Bronx, Arthur Avenue was named after President Chester A. Arthur in the 19th century. Italians temporarily settled here to help build the Bronx Zoo, but with the creation of the Third Avenue elevated train, which ran between the Bronx and downtown Manhattan, their presence in the neighborhood remained and grew, with the population reaching close to 100,000 Italian residents by the early 1900s.

Today, red, white and green garland hangs festively from street poles all year round. Inside the stores that line Arthur Avenue and East 187th Street, colorful pastries, cured meats and fresh fish are rivaled in appeal only by the characters behind the counter.

View our Arthur Avenue video by clicking here.

Casa Della Mozzarella
604 E. 187th St., 718-364-3867

Casa Della Mozzarella
Casa Della Mozzarella

Past the colorful displays of olives and mounds of fresh cheese stands Orazio Carciotto, who doesn’t believe in sitting down for a break. Later in the afternoon, he has a meeting with management at Yankee Stadium to discuss his cheese being served in the team’s clubhouse—but until then, he’ll be leaning over a boiling pot of water and cheese curds, preparing the shop’s namesake product. Italian-born Carciotto says Arthur Avenue is the perfect taste of home. “When I visit my parents in Sicily,” he says, “I can’t wait to come back here.”

Cosenza’s Fish Market
2354 Arthur Ave., 718-364-8510

Cosenza’s Fish Market
Cosenza’s Fish Market

Around the corner stands Cosenza’s, which opened in 1918. On warm days, hungry shoppers wait in line at an outdoor raw oyster-and-clam bar, eager to slurp their seafood in the open air. Indoors, crates of crabs, wild mussels and littleneck clams, and rows of fresh swordfish, Portuguese octopus and rainbow trout fill the shop—all at prices you’d be hard-pressed to find at any grocery chain.

Biancardi’s
2350 Arthur Ave., 718-733-4058
Biancardi’s
Biancardi’s

Inside this classic butcher shop, meat fills cases, hangs from the ceiling and accumulates on the counter as the Biancardi team works on custom cuts for eager customers who often travel from as far as upstate New York to bring home their share. Adventurous carnivores will also enjoy some harder-to-find selections like tripe, baby goat and even quail. Veal and lamb are among the most popular picks.

Madonia Brothers Bakery
2348 Arthur Ave., 718-295-5573

Madonia Brothers Bakery
Madonia Brothers Bakery

This carb-lover’s paradise pumps out 400 to 500 pounds of biscotti a week in varieties like vanilla nut, double chocolate and Napolitano. And then there’s the bread. Beyond classic Italian white, you’ll find inventive flavors such as jalapeño, prosciutto, chocolate cherry and cinnamon swirl. When Charles Madonia landed at the shop in 1994, he brought his own recipes to the family business—which explains the expansive selection.

Cerini Coffee & Gifts
2334 Arthur Ave., 718-584-3449

Cerini Coffee & Gifts
Cerini Coffee & Gifts

At Cerini, shelves are stocked with a nearly overwhelming selection of snacks, gift items, espresso machines, coffee beans and gigantic jars of Nutella. “I think you can find more coffee here than in a single location in Italy,” says Giovanni Cerini, who works here with his mother and sister. There are more than 25 blends of imported beans, and Cerini doles out samples of the coffee to customers daily.

Peter’s Meat Market
2344 Arthur Ave., 718-367-3136

Mike’s Deli
Peter’s Meat Market co-owner Michael Rella

Step inside the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, wend your way past the men hand-rolling cigars and step up to Peter’s Meat Market. A red awning declares this “Arthur Avenue’s Favorite ‘Meating’ Place,” and the butchers here take that statement seriously. “You know everybody by name,” says co-owner Michael Rella. “It’s not like a supermarket with numbers.” Nine different sausages and a mouthwatering selection of cured meats, cheeses and Italian-imported desserts alone are worth the trip to Arthur Avenue.

Roberto Restaurant
603 Crescent Ave., 718-733-9503

Roberto Restaurant
Roberto Restaurant

Charm and elegance resonate throughout this famous southern Italian eatery. Roberto Paciullo opened his restaurant in the late 1980s, finding inspiration from his father, a chef who was always looking ahead to the next meal at home in Salerno. Seasonal dishes like homemade pasta and truffles are made only with ingredients bought from neighborhood merchants. “People say I’m lucky to own a restaurant in New York, but I think I’m lucky to be on Arthur Avenue,” says Paciullo, who’s also the proprietor of Zero Otto Nove in Manhattan and the Bronx. Most days, you’ll find him here, chatting with customers as they sip on wine and sample his culinary creations.

DeLillo Cafe & Pastry Shop
610 E. 187th St., 718-367-8198

DeLillo Cafe & Pastry Shop
DeLillo Cafe & Pastry Shop

Colorful cases of sfogliatelle, cannoli and tarts line the cases at DeLillo, which opened in 1925. “Kids’ eyes light up as soon as they walk in the door,” says Josephine Florio, who has been serving decadent sweets, along with homemade Italian ices, espresso and cappuccino, for 18 years. For Florio, it’s all about the signature Arthur Avenue hospitality. “Everyone cheers when you come in,” she says.

Borgatti’s Ravioli & Egg Noodles
632 E. 187th St., 718-367-3799

Borgatti’s Ravioli & Egg Noodles
Borgatti’s Ravioli & Egg Noodles

It doesn’t get more Italian than pasta, and on Arthur Avenue, with its endless varieties of dried and fresh noodles, this is one of the more popular places to stock up. Ravioli comes in ricotta cheese and meat and spinach varieties, while egg noodles get adventurous with flavors like tomato, carrot, mushroom and squid ink. Pair your purchase with any of the jarred sauces, pesto and vinegars that fill the shelves here and bite into 75 years of tradition.

For more information on Arthur Avenue (and the culinary delights you can discover there), see our video below.

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