Thursday, March 6, 2008

Field Trip: Arthur Ave., Bronx

As a lover of Italian food, and past resident of Firenze, I’ve been eager to visit NYC’s ‘Real Little Italy’ since I first heard about it. Finding Italian ingredients at most major grocery stores seems simplistic, but uncovering the freshest most flavorful ingredients is another story. The single year I lived in Italy opened my eyes to what fresh veggies, herbs, and pastas can become when selected and combined together properly. Over a year, I fell in love with cooking, particularly Italian cooking.

The historic shopping area of Arthur Ave. was about a 15-minute walk from the train station (D, Fordham Road) and did not disappoint. My friend Risa and I started off with lunch at Emilia's on Arthur Ave. just down from 187th Street. They offered affordable lunch specials and great house red wine, which we tested (it still counts as testing if you drink a ½ litter in my book.) Although everything was good from the small ricotta raviolis to the hot antipasti but Risa’s gnocchi alla ragu won top honors at our table.

After we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant we headed across the street to the closed-air market, which offers everything from Italian cigars to fresh veggies for a price. We found tomatoes that actually smelled like tomatoes and basil that you could sniff from over a foot away. We chatted it up with the butchers at Mike’s Deli and treated ourselves to some sliced imported proscuttio de Parma (for a mere $6.)

Then we set out to find all the ingredients for our evening feast. We started our food journey at Calabria Pork Store for some Italian sausage, panchetta, and salami. The meat market was full of cured, and fresh meats alongside bins of olives and fresh mozzarella. One taste of the salami assured us that our dinner was going to be a hit. Our next stop, for our linguini and clam entrée was Randazzo's, right across the street. The little neck clams were beautiful and priced at just $4 a pound. After stopping for a quick coffee break, which included a debate with the café manager over Benicio Del Toro’s sexiness we moved on to Mt. Carmel for some wine to accompany our meal. We found some of my old favorites from Italy and packed up our purses.

Once along 187th Street we found the famous pasta house Borgatti, which cuts pasta to your preference for $2 a pound. We bought over 4 pounds of fresh pasta and 100 spinach and meat ravioli’s, which taste like little pillows of heaven. Then we speed down the street to Casa Della Mozzarella on the corner of 187 and Arthur, which sells 1.5 pound balls of fresh mozzarella for around $6 per pound. We picked up some parsley at a corner store and ciabatta, provolone bread and canola at Madonia Bread Store on our way home before we hiked back up to the subway station. The walk back was quite a bit more tedious than the walk there but was still quite rewarding.

Our dinner was a success and made me want to book a monthly shopping trip to Arthur Ave. Perhaps my next trip will be in spring when I can hit up the NY Botanical Gardens as well.

All the information I found to lead me to these wonderful places along Arthur Ave. were online at Chowhound (my favorite),, and of course

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Three words, ninja sandwich artist. Where's the post????