It’s 11 a.m. on a Saturday and already the streets are filled with active crowds weaving from store front to store front. Young, old, families of five, and small groups of college kids brandishing their maroon and white Fordham University apparel. Yes, I’m back in the Belmont community of Da Bronx. It would be completely worth it to spend the rest of the year reviewing each of the 20 Italian restaurants, 13 deli’s, and the 7 bakery’s and pastry shops that thrive from the visitors that regularly flock to area from places as far away has northern Connecticut. But that would be selfish of me, so for now I’ll cover the area as a whole.
I know I’ve done this area before with an earlier entry of Pasquales Rigoletto, but there are some areas you just have to come back to. “The Little Italy of Da Bronx” spans 4 blocks of Arthur Avenue and two blocks across 187th Street. This area offers a touch of authenticity that can’t be matched by the over crowded and commercialized Mulberry Street. Small deli’s and meat markets prepare sandwiches with imported Italian meats and produce. Bakery’s and restaurants bring an old world taste to its patrons that once could only be found somewhere on the boot.
Sampling some of the food doesn’t even require walking into a store. Clam bars wheeled in front of seafood markets are lined up and the down the side walks. Help yourself to raw oysters or clams right on the sidewalk with your choice of sauces. Or enjoy a sandwich, full course meal, or coffee and dessert right on the curb during a beautiful spring day.
The area has also attracted celebrities and media outlets. Bobby Flay has featured world renowned Mike’s Deli on The Food Network. Influenced by the areas abundance of fine Italian cooking Flay created a recipe called, “The Arthur Avenue Burger” which includes an abundance of Italian seasonings. Prominent Italian figures such as James Gandolfini and Rudolph Giuliani have been known to frequent the deli for a hero or a hand rolled cigar. Even a picture of the presence George W. Bush is a hanging centerpiece on a deli wall.
Arthur Avenue is, however, quite removed from Manhattan. Taking the subway through the south Bronx to Fordham Road makes the area well worth the special trip.