Little Italy in the Bronx

by JudithG

Arthur Avenue is generations of Italian food, pastries, markets, pasta and more, located in The Bronx, a New York City borough close to the Bronx Zoo and Fordham University.

An authentic Italian enclave still exists in this Belmont neighborhood, which is in the Bronx, with a spotlight on its Arthur Avenue and surrounding streets.

High standards of fresh ingredients, European influenced dishes and five generations of Italian families have anchored the area once teeming with pushcarts. Expect excellence in dining here from pizza slices to quality restaurants. Shop for food, too, and Italian wares.

What Is Arthur Avenue

"I know about the other Little Italy in downtown Manhattan, but this is the real Little Italy," boasted David Greco of Mike's Deli, located on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

Those could be fighting words but many agree he's right. Downtown's Little Italy has shrunk to a mere four blocks with few authentic Italians present. The neighborhood restaurants and cafes abut an overflowing Chinatown and cater mostly to tourists. Best bet now for a bonafide Italian neighborhood feel with great eats, knowledgeable merchants, Italian souvenirs and cooking wares is a trek uptown to Arthur Avenue. 

Food personalities such as Emeril LaGasse, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay and Lidia Bastianich, to name a few, rave about Arthur Avenue, especially Mike's Deli.  

Locals contend there's about 100 years of Italian heritage on Arthur Avenue, a street named for President Chester A. Arthur. For visitors, and especially foodies, it's a cultural experience to stroll down the avenue and along some side streets. Arthur Avenue, The Real Little Italy

The Arthur Avenue Retail Market was opened by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia to remove teeming pushcarts from the streets. Today, the covered building is a focal point and houses 10 shops. Also along Arthur Avenue and nearby streets, the whiffs coming from sausage makers and bread shops, fish markets, florists and many restaurants is a year-round draw. Located near E. 187th Street in Belmont, the residential neighborhood is a mix of Hispanics, Afro-Americans and Albanians. But the dominant generational Italian timestamp makes Arthur Avenue an ethnic destination for New Yorkers and the city's visitors. Being near Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Zoo, Fordham University and the New York Botanical Garden is a bonus.

What to Buy at the Arthur Avenue Retail Market

An emporium of 10 shops here sell a wealth of goods ranging from homemade mozzarella to Italian salted cod to rabbit to cannoli to Sicilian pizza, gift baskets, T-shirts and more. Highlights are:

Homemade Mozzarella at Mike's Deli, Bronx

Mike's Deli wins raves for its eggplant parmigiana covered with homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella. The Yankee Stadium Big Boy sandwich weighs in with mortadella, ham, salami, capicolo and homemade mozzarella with sweet or hot peppers.

The marketplace may be mostly Italian but when entering, the first shop seen is La Casa Grande 

Cigars. Handmade Cigars at La Case Grande CigarsProfessional cigar rollers flip tobacco leaves, smooth them out and roll first-class cigars sold on site or sent worldwide.  

The Pasticceria  shop can easily satisfy a sweet tooth. Watch a cannoli being filled, pay for it and enjoy a simply delicious pastry made on site.
Pasticceria Fresh Canonoli

Napoleons, assorted pastries and gelato keep the counters active with patrons. 

Complement any pastry with cappuccino and espresso, just before ordering cannolis to go.

A Few Arthur Avenue Establishments

Depending upon a visitor's taste buds or shopping needs, the following places are noted:

Mario's Restaurant is a Migliucci family, five-generation mainstay serving Neapolitan food. The place was mentioned in The Godfather movie. Mario is famous for his pizza, which has a thin crust and crispy taste. He invites guests into his kitchen to see it made. Mario's Restaurant on Arthur Avenue, Bronx, NYThe pasta dish with pink vodka sauce and small ham strips is divine.

At Zero Otto Nove Restaurant (the restaurant's name is the 089 area code for Salerno, Italy), watch pizza being taken from the brick oven that's in open view. And try Pizza Nutella with a powdered sugar garnish for a different appetizer. 

Borgatti's Ravioli and Egg Noodles on Arthur Avenue makes homemade specialties. The shop opened in 1935 and has been featured on the Food Network.

Borgatti Ravioli and Egg Noodles

Randazzo's Seafood sells fresh fish imported from Italy and has a raw bar.

For the adventurous diner, try Dominick's Restaurant. There are menus, no reservations, no menus and cash only. Your waiter advises on what to order or maybe your tablemate will since diners share tables.

The Arthur Avenue Cookbook: Recipes and Memories from the Real Little Italy

Arthur Avenue winds its way through the heart of theBronx. Known to many as the "real Little Italy," the storiedArthur Avenue neighborhood has been home to a vibrantcommunity of...

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Little Italy of the Bronx Book: Belmont & Arthur Avenue

'Little Italy of THE BRONX' Belmont & Arthur Avenue Belmont: the neighborhood where everybody knew your name and even your nickname. Of the fifty distinct neighborhoods of The B...

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Photo: Italian pushcart market,Arthur & Crescent Avenues,Bronx,New York,NY,1940

8x12 inch Photographic Print from a high-quality scan of the original.Title: Italian pushcart market, Arthur & Crescent Avenues, Bronx Creator(s): Stieglitz, C.M., photographer ...

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Arthur Avenue and Belmont, Bronx, N.Y.

If You Go

Arthur Avenue and the Belmont neighborhood can be reached by car and several NY subway routes. Metro-North commuter Harlem or New Haven railroad lines also service the area. Most shops are open Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Closed Sunday. Always call before venturing out. 

Most shops have excellent Facebook and Web pages offering daily specials.


Updated: 02/05/2014, JudithG
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Mira on 02/08/2014

In the meantime, I made the chocolate cake I craved. You article was so good. I'm still wishing to go to a good Italian restaurant once I have something to celebrate. We have lots, and I mean lots, of Italian restaurants in Bucharest but I've never been to a really good one, with more sophisticated stuff. It's been mostly trattorias for me.

AbbyFitz on 02/04/2014

This looks like a foodie's heaven

JudithG on 02/04/2014

Thanks ologsinquito. Mario's has an old world feel and the whiffs of Italian food are all around. Hope you liked the article as much as I did writing it.

JudithG on 02/04/2014

Hi Mira, Actually, there is no pasta with vodka. I'm glad you mentioned it because I'm made an error. It's pasta with "pink" vodka sauce, which is red sauce, cream and some vodka. And, yes, it's terrific.

ologsinquito on 02/04/2014

Mario's Restaurant looks like a great place. I'm pinning this to my See the World board.

Mira on 02/04/2014

Yum!! This really made me crave some good food, at least a slice of chocolate cake and nice cup of coffee. I'm wondering about pasta with vodka. I do use old wine in mine, and love it.
I'm now craving cannoli too. Should check out a good Italian restaurant in Bucharest for a special occasion. Thanks for the idea :)

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