Arthur & Crescent Avenues, Bronx in 1940
James and Dara write:
It helps to bring a grandmother to Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx. The real "Little Italy" of New York City is a multi-generational family affair. Girl Scouts sell cookies on the streets, the proprietors boast about how far back in the bloodlines their businesses go, and the low prices are out of another era.
This is no Italian-American toy town. Every day, a dense assembly of specialty purveyors offers up some of the highest quality meats, cheeses, breads, and pastas found anywhere in New York, even as the neighborhood has yet to make it on every foodie map (their loss). With Brooklyn getting all the culinary attention these days, now is the right time to venture up to this epicure's eden in the Bronx.
Driving to Arthur Avenue is the easiest way to get there. We've never had a problem with street parking. The district is close to the Bronx Zoo and Fordham University, and the closest train station is the Fordham stop on Metro North, about eight blocks away.
The shopping district runs in an L up Arthur Avenue to 187th Street and then heads east for several blocks. We like to start at Terranova Bakery at 691 East 187th Street. An unassuming storefront masks an original coal-fired oven, where some of the best bread in the city is baked every day and now delivered by special truck to many of Manhattan's top restaurants. The wonderful owner, Pietro, led us into the back to see the bakery in action. (All photographs below by James Panero)
Next up is Joe's Deli for fresh mozzarella and burrata--mozzarella filed with cream.
Another block west is Borgatti's Ravioli and Egg Noodles. The pasta is cut to order and the ravioli comes in sleeves wrapped in paper.
Above, two essential stops: Vincent's Meat Market and Teitel. At Vincent's, the aromatic broccoli rabe sausage spiraled in a circle and held together by wooden sticks is a favorite. Cosenza's Fish Market one block south sells raw oysters and clams on the street. For lunch there's Zero Otto Nove, one of chef Roberto Paciullo's three New York restaurants and named for the telephone code in his childhood home of Salerno. And for desert: can't beat the cookies at Madonia Brothers Bakery.