Most people are familiar with Manhattan’s Little Italy, just north of Chinatown. But they probably don’t know about the real Little Italy: Arthur Avenue, tucked away in the Bronx’s Belmont neighborhood and home to NYC’s best Italian cuisine. Here we present 10 restaurants, bakeries and delis that should be on your Arthur Avenue bucket list. Prepare to loosen your belt buckle.
Zero Otto Nove
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
The interior of Zero Otto Nove is decorated to look like an Italian street scene – think a cobbled courtyard with crumbling walls and peeling vintage posters. This sense of authenticity also extends to the menu, which encompasses a selection of classic seafood, meat and pasta dishes, as well as pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven. If you’re feeling experimental, the La Riccardo pizza – with butternut squash puree, smoked mozzarella, pancetta and basil – is a flavor combination you won’t find elsewhere.
Packed to the rafters with fragrant sopressata (dubbed “the sausage chandelier”), Calabria is known throughout NYC for its Italian pork products. Staff are generous with tasting samples, so feel free to try a few before you settle on your purchase, and don’t overlook the cheese – Calabria’s mozzarellas are rumored to be some of the best in Little Italy.
Dominick’s is simple and old school, seating patrons family-style at long tables – all the better for sharing its generous portions. Instead of handing out menus, the servers ask what you’re in the mood for – pasta, fish, salad, etc. – then reel off a list of different options from memory. At the end of the meal, when you’ve devoured all the chicken parm and stuffed artichoke your tummy can handle, your check is delivered verbally, too. (And note: this is a cash-only joint, so come prepared.)
For a deviation from the old-school Italian restaurants and shops, head to The Bronx Beer Hall, which offers locally brewed beer on tap. Get situated at one of the picnic tables in front of the bar, order a pint from the extensive craft-beer list and grab a bite. The Beer Hall also hosts karaoke nights, trivia contests and movie showings, so time your visit accordingly.
Tino’s is well known for its mouthwatering heroes, which are piled high with prosciutto, chicken cutlet, creamy mozzarella and fresh broccoli rabe. If you have room for dessert afterwards, the cannolis – filled at the counter while you watch – are phenomenal. Tino’s also stands out for its wide selection of Italian pantry items; come here to stock up on authentic balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and dried pasta – all imported from Italy.
A favorite of tourists and New Yorkers alike, Borgatti’s is a staple in the Bronx’s Little Italy. Situated on East 187th Street (close to Arthur Avenue), it is a family-owned and -run specialty pasta shop that’s been in the neighborhood since 1935. Stock up on freshly made basil fettuccine, pumpkin ravioli and cheese-filled manicotti crepes to cook at home with a drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of sea salt and black pepper.
As the name suggests, this is the spot for home-made mozzarella and its variants, such as bocconcini (mini moz balls) and burrata (a giant moz filled with stracciatella and cream). You might find a long line during peak lunchtime hours, as people stop by for fresh panini sandwiches and other Italian deli goods. But for cheese fans, Casa Della Mozzarella is certainly worth the wait.
Located in the famous Arthur Avenue Retail Market, Mike’s Deli is also known as Greco’s, after the owner David Greco, who once appeared on the Food Network’sThrowdown with chef Bobby Flay. At Greco’s, you can purchase fresh bread, cheeses, cured meats and pasta to cook at home. And don’t forget to pick up the old-school Big Mike’s combo: an Italian combo stacked high with Italian meats, roasted red peppers, and broccoli rabe.
Offering up traditional Italian cuisine and pasta made freshly on the premises, Emilia’s is another Arthur Avenue mainstay with an outdoor patio for warm-weather al fresco dining. Try the house specialties – lobster ravioli in a pink vodka sauce, gnocchi bolognese or a vegetarian lasagne – and squeeze in a home-made cheesecake for dessert.
Once you’ve had your fill of homemade pasta, heroes stuffed with Italian meats and locally brewed beer, it’s time to enjoy a pastry from Arthur Avenue’s century-old Madonia Brothers Bakery. Amid the huge assortment of cookies and pastries, Madonia Brothers Bakery is best known for its fresh and delectable cannoli. While you’re there, have them bag up a slice of the olive bread to take home and enjoy later.