A few Saturdays ago, Francesca and I finally went to check out a place that had been on our minds for a while: famed Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, NY.
Arthur Avenue is first and foremost an Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx (near the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden) that was named after President Chester A. Arthur (the 21st President of the United States) in the XIX century.
Around that time, many Italian immigrants settled in the Belmont area and started forming a growing community that endured mostly unchanged to this day. This earned Arthur Avenue the nickname of “the real Little Italy of New York“.
On the Avenue itself as well as on the blocks immediately adjacent to it thrives a host of stores, delis and restaurants all selling scores of authentic Italian food, produce and dishes – everything from great meats and sausages, fresh fish and seafood, delicious cheese (including the best imported mozzarella I have had in the States so far), freshly baked bread, focaccia, biscotti and sweet treats, all kinds of pasta, mouthwatering pizza, you name it…
The whole experience is really unique, as many of the store owners or employees still speak Italian and take pride in establishing some kind of personal relationship with their customers. It brings back memories of what happens in the stores of most Italian small towns.
Beside the actual stores that line Arthur Avenue and its cross Streets, the area is also home to the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, an indoor market that was opened in 1940 by New York Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia and that hosts stalls and counters of various butchers, bakers, produce vendors, cheese and cured meat sellers, a souvenir T-shirt store and so on.
The market is also home to an amazing cigar place with a couple of employees who hand roll them right in front of you so you can watch the entire process, from tobacco leaf to the finished product: trust me, even if you are like me and don’t smoke, it is something that is definitely worth watching!
And last but not least, a small beer joint has recently opened inside the Arthur Avenue Retail Market: it is called The Bronx Beer Hall and, in a sign-of-the-time melting pot spirit, it is run by two brothers of Puerto Rican heritage who serve beer made by microbreweries from the Bronx and elsewhere in New York State.
So, if you live in or near The Big Apple or if you happen to visit and you enjoy authentic Italian food in a characteristic environment, consider stopping by Arthur Avenue and doing some food shopping or dining there!
Below you can find a few additional images from our outing in the Bronx.
PS: Happy Memorial Day, everyone! 🙂