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It’s funny how long it can take to visit places that are right on your doorstep. My dad and I ventured to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx recently. This charming slice of Italy is one of the last bastions of true Italian culture in New York at its finest (far better than Little Italy in Manhattan!) and one of the only places where I’d argue that you’d hear Italian spoken on the streets of New York City.
We spent a day going shop-to-shop chatting with the owners and collecting ingredient-by-ingredient for the best pasta that I’ve had on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. I hope this guide to this Little Italy in the Bronx inspires you to visit. I include practical information to visit Arthur Avenue without a food tour, where to buy the best Italian ingredients along Arthur Avenue, and most importantly where to eat in Arthur Avenue. I’ve formatted this as a DIY food tour of Arthur Avenue. Buon Appetito!
New York is constantly shifting, however during my recent trip home, I spent weeks searching for the New York City that I was worried didn’t exist anymore: small mom and pop shops without designated Instagram walls, charming neighborhoods where you can still appreciate the sheer diversity of New York City, friendly shop owners with strong accents who will chat with you and give out free samples, and good food that won’t break the bank.
I’m excited to show you a slice of the New York City that I love, served with a side of the best pizza that I’ve had in New York City. (I write this as a Native New Yorker!) I’ve formatted this as a little guide that will take you from shop-to-shop as you eat and shop the best of Arthur Avenue.
- Brief overview of Arthur Avenue
- Where to eat and shop along Arthur Avenue
- How to get to Arthur Avenue / Nearby places to combine Arthur Avenue with
About Arthur Avenue
Belmont is a pretty unique neighborhood. After the Third Avenue Subway opened up, many European immigrants (including my own great grandparents) flocked to the Bronx as it was cheaper and less cramped than the immigrant neighborhoods in Manhattan. With the creation of the New York Botanical Garden, many masonry and landscaping jobs were created, which brought a flux of Italians to the Bronx.
This neighborhood includes many of the same institutions that opened more than a hundred years ago and today, these shops are often still run by the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren of these Italian immigrants. I am not Italian, but I worked at a Sicilian bakery throughout high school and college. That time (along with growing up in New York) has instilled a love for Italian pastries and culture in me that has never really gone away. (My marriage can be plotted back to Italy and I try to return each year to explore a new region.)
Something that I love about New York is that you can find such great Italian food due to this legacy of Italian immigration, but many of the old Italian neighborhoods have changed quite a bit (including Corona). Little Italy in Manhattan has mostly been lost to the tourists, so it was really a breath of fresh air to stroll down Arthur Avenue where you still hear Italian spoken within restaurants as well as on the street.
The neighborhood is changing (as everything eventually does), which means that you can find Albanian food (and shops) as well as Mexican shops within this diverse Bronx neighborhood. You definitely see some beautiful buildings in this neighborhood with old-school signage as well as beautiful details.
Some advice: Order an espresso. Sit for a while enjoying it. Talk to shop owners. Come hungry and ready to eat/shop. You don’t need a food tour.
Where to eat and shop along Arthur Avenue
As a note, credit cards are generally accepted throughout Arthur Avenue, but for smaller transactions (less than 10), many shops do not accept cards. I recommend having at least $20 with you to purchase items along the way! I’ve structured this as a walking loop that can be easily walked in about an hour (or a couple of hours if you stop into all of the restaurants/stores) to give you a good feeling of this unique Bronx neighborhood!
Zero Otto Nove
How often can you have pizza at a Michelin starred restaurant for only $13? I’ve had a lot of pizza (despite not being supposed to eat dairy) and I honestly believe that Zero Otto Nove has the best pizza in New York City.
I came here with my dad on a weekday around lunch. The appearance is deceptive: It looks like a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, but the restaurant is actually spacious and evocative of somewhere in Italy. Despite visiting on a quiet weekday for lunch, it was still packed. I strongly making a reservation on their website if you want to come for dinner or on the weekends.
My father ordered a seafood salad, which had a generous portion of seafood. We were also given bread. The Margherita pizza had a perfectly baked thin crust with high-quality mozzarella, which comes from Casa Della Mozzarella (discussed below). (The wine selection was very good for anyone interested.) I’d go as far as saying that this was the best pizza that I had in the United States.
Don’t eat too much at Zero otto Nove… There are so many good things to eat, especially cannolis that are freshly filled. (Don’t let it sit there too long as it will get soggy.) This one-hundred-year old bakery was started in 1918 by a Silician immigrant who moved to the Belmont neighborhood. It was passed down throughout the generations until one of the family members brought in an external partner who knew the bakery business. People swear by the bread and the rainbow cookies here, but I’d recommend ordering at least one cannoli.
Cosenza’s Fish Market
How do you feel about eating a raw oyster on the street? You know the oysters are fresh when the entire fire company pulls up for $1 raw oysters along the sidewalk. This classic fish market along Arthur Avenue is a great place to pick up seafood for your dreamy Italian meal that I recommend making after visiting Arthur Avenue.
The Teitel Brothers is a pretty unique place. This Jewish-run Italian shop had to be one of our favorite places along Arthur Avenue. The fascinating history of this place opened after the Teitel family opened their shop to sell Italian salami and olive oil after seeing an opportunity. Today, you can buy high-quality olive oil by the gallon as well as fresh olives. The store is cramped to say the least, but worth a browse.
We spent a while browsing the shop prior to buying fresh olives for our pasta dish after getting some samples. My dad is looking forward to buying more olives here! It’s still in the family and now run by the third generation of Teitels.
Casa Della Mozzarella
This tiny little shop is the newcomer on the block in a place where many shops are at least 100 years old. This tiny shop focuses on quality–and it even won the prestigious James Beard award in 2017. This handmade mozzarella has a line for the cheese–and it is worth it if you’re considering adding cheese onto your dream Italian meal. Some of the local restaurants use it in their foods.
When asked where to buy the best pasta sauce on Arthur Avenue, we were told you have to go to Tino’s Delicatessen. This Deli was located elsewhere for the previous 50 years, however it moved here more recently. Although they certainly serve other food, when we asked at Borgatti’s on where we should buy fresh pasta sauce, we were instantly told to go to Tino’s. Near the front, you’ll see a refrigerator filled with pasta sauce made on site daily. We brought some home with us and it was absolutely delicious.
Tra Di Noi
Another Michelin starred restaurant for experiencing old school Little Italy is at Tra Di Noi, which serves up meals with many of the local ingredients mentioned here. Although a bit newer, this Italian restaurant run by an Italian chef is the real deal. If you’re craving eating gnocchi at that one osteria in Italy with red table clothes, Tra Di Noi is where to go.
Borgatti’s Ravioli & Egg Noodles
Borgatti’s is where to buy your freshly made pasta in Belmont. Although I’ve bought pasta that was freshly made, I’ve never had pasta as fresh as Borgatti’s. This third-generation past shop has been in the same place for more than 80 years.
Although you can buy dried pasta (better for traveling), I recommend coming earlier in the day (as Borgatti’s sells out) to buy some of the pasta that is made fresh. You’ll need to choose your type of pasta prior to the cut (with five choices) from thick noodles to thin spaghetti strings. Afterward, it’s cut in front of you prior to being packaged in light packaging for consumption ASAP. No preservatives.
Needless to say, it was delicious pasta and if you’re living in New York (or have access to a kitchen), I’d recommend bringing some home with you. Some of the nearby restaurants (mentioned here) serve their pasta if you won’t have the chance to cook it yourself.
Artuso Pastry Shop
It’s hard not to mention Artuso Pastry Shop, which is one of the most famous exports from Belmont. The bakery was established in the Depression-era when Vincent Artuso Sr. immigrated from Calabria to New York. He trained as a pastry chef and today, cakes from this bakery are sold far outside of this neighborhood. Stop by for the tricolor cookies, Sfogliatella, pignoli cookies, and cannolis. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, get one of each.)
Prince Coffee House
When my dad mentioned to a coworker that we were heading up to Arthur Avenue, we were told that we had to stop by Prince Coffee House. This specialty coffee shop serving up fantastic coffee is a great spot for Turkish-style coffee. I don’t know the full story, but there’s definitely a Kosovo connection as this cozy Bronx coffee shop has several locations in Kosovo. I’ve actually had their coffee and sweets in Peja, Kosovo. It’s a small world and even old school Italians love their coffee.
Arthur Avenue Retail Market
This Italian market was set up under Mayor LaGuardia as a way of getting rid of the many pushcarts that once lined the streets of this neighborhood selling everything that can think of. Although there were once 150 stalls, the market is considerably calmer today. It’s a fantastic place for shop for affordable and delicious fruits and vegetables as well as meats. It’s not particularly big, but it’s definitely worth a browse as you might be surprised what you find. I heard Italian spoken among customers and vendors, which was a nice touch.
The market is modernizing a bit now and you’ll find a cozy craft beer bar called The Bronx Beer Hall in the middle of the market. If you’re not into New York State craft beer (because you haven’t tried Ommegang yet!), come here.
End the day with Albanian food (or Mexican food)!
The neighborhood is changing and it’s a clear sign of the times. There’s a number of Mexican and Albanian restaurants moving into the neighborhood. After my time in Albania and Kosovo, I must encourage to see if you have room for just a little snack before you leave. I recommend fresh bread with Ajvar with Kajmak (fresh cheese) possibly with a side of Fli at Çka Ka Qellu, which is run by Albanians from Kosovo. It’s quite different, but worth the trip!
Getting to Arthur Avenue independently
A lot of people get really nervous about visiting the Bronx. I will be honest in disclosing the fact that the Bronx has some less than ideal neighborhoods, but if you’re simply visiting Arthur Avenue day-time, it’s worth the trip.
If you’re nervous about visiting Arthur Avenue on your own, there are plenty of food tours that visit Arthur Avenue. I argue you don’t need one as I’ve done the legwork for you. Most food tours move fairly quickly, so you can only sample things along the way. If you go on your own, you can simply enjoy this neighborhood slowly by sitting at a cafe enjoying an espresso after doing some light shopping for your dinner.
Arthur Avenue by public transit
There are a couple of ways to get to Arthur Avenue by public transit. The most direct way is to take the D train uptown to the Bronx prior to getting off at 182nd-183rd Sts. prior to walking about a mile. (You can always take a Lyft if you’re not comfortable walking.) If you’re less keen on walking more, you can also take the 2 up to West Farms Square – E Tremont Ave prior to transferring to the bus. Check Google Maps for the best route although it will take about an hour.
If you’re visiting a Yankees game or touring Yankee Stadium, I’d recommend combining this with Arthur Avenue during the day to eat along Arthur Avenue. It’s about 30-40 minutes from Yankee Stadium to Arthur Avenue. (Expect waits at the best restaurants if you come in the evening or weekends! Lunch is much quieter.) It’s also possible to combine this with the Bronx Zoo or the New York Botanical Garden.
Getting to Arthur Avenue by car
If you happen to have a car, there’s some inexpensive municipal parking at the 2356 Hoffman St Parking lot. We actually drove as it was so much faster than taking the train (besides the Cross Bronx Expressway), but I realize that not everyone will be driving. There aren’t too many spots, so I’d recommend not driving on the weekends.