Downtown Manhattan’s Little Italy needs no introduction; Bronx’s Little Italy may require a little more than a nudge.
Up in the 180’s, around 186th Street, this Little Italy spans four blocks along intersecting Arthur Avenue*. Here, it’s all about the butcher, the baker, the elaborate cake maker. The vibe is more old school, less tourist. It’s not really a neighbourhood, more so a preservation of traditional Italian gastronomy. Storefronts display hunks of hanging meats, rows of crusty freshly baked loaves, and rectangular cakes decorated a la Gaudi. There’s a feeling of store owners holding on tight to some semblance of their ancestral authenticity.
Though today was a slow day in this part of the Bronx, the restaurant’s waiter told us that it’s usually busy, especially when there’s a game on at Yankee stadium… or when parents are in town, visiting their kids studying at nearby Fordham University (and helping pay for those pricey grocery bills).
Oh, and if you’re a cigar aficionado, or eggplant parmigiano lover, head to Arthur Avenue Retail Market. Here’s a glimpse of today.