Part of the MTA + James Beard Foundation DineAWAY series
Step 1: Take the train to Fordham
New York is full of neighborhoods steeped in history that will transport you to another time. That’s exactly how it feels along Arthur Avenue, aka the Bronx’s Little Italy, which is lined with tons of spots that have been there for more than a century, selling every Italian classic imaginable from mozzarella and cannolis to pasta, pork, and pizza.
Traditional Italian eateries are known for big portions, so a food crawl of the area might sound a little ambitious. But if you’re anything like me, you’re up for the challenge. Comfy clothes and shoes at the ready … Let's ride.
First, take out cash to use all day. Most places (including our first stop at Dominick’s) are cash only, and the ones that aren’t usually have a $10 minimum on cards. Next, choose how you’re getting up there. We took the Metro-North train to Fordham station, about a 15 minute walk from Arthur Ave. Download the MTA e-Tix app so that you can buy your train ticket right on your phone and avoid waiting in any lines or higher fares on the train. (Also aim for off-peak hours to take advantage of $5 City Tickets - one-way rides anywhere within NYC).
15 minute walk to the heart of Arthur Avenue from Fordham
You can also take the subway there, the 4, B, and D trains are all about a 20 minute walk from Arthur Ave.
16 minute walk from Fordham Road
22 minute walk from Fordham Road
Once you make your way up to the Bronx, walk about 15 minutes to Dominick’s.
Step 2: Grab lunch at Dominick’s
Dominick’s is an old school spot with a menu full of classics: linguini marinara, veal marsala, chicken parm, and so on. There’s also a decent portion of the menu dedicated to Sunday-only specials. And the portions, well, even the personal plates are enough to feed a family of four.
We split the fried calamari and one pasta, the Linguini alla Gianni with diced shrimp and clams in a light red sauce, between the two of us. It was just enough to kick-start our food crawl without going overboard. (Keep in mind, the more people you invite, the more you can try, so see if you can rally a crew.)
Step 3. Stop into Casa Della Mozzarella
Casa Della Mozzarella is a New York institution known for its legendary hand-pulled mozzarella. It’s been voted the best in NYC by multiple outlets, including Zagat for more than 10 years running. A documentary-style video about the shop owners called “Mozzarella Kings of New York” also won a James Beard Media Award in 2019. (I can confirm, it’s an incredibly charming video that’s worth a watch.)
Walk 3 minutes from Dominick’s to hit up Casa della Mozzarella. Aside from the cheese, this tiny shop is packed with marinated olives, imported cold cuts, dried pastas, and so much more. You can also get some incredible Italian sandwiches. We stopped in for some salty green castelvetrano olives and maybe the biggest burrata ball we’ve ever seen.
Step 4. Taste cannolis from Madonia Brothers Bakery
We opted for a mid-crawl sweet to break up all the savory goodies, which brought us to Madonia Brothers Bakery. This bake shop has been selling some of the city’s best cannolis for over 100 years. The secret to their success is that they fill the cannoli shells while you wait, so they don’t get soggy from all the sweet, cheesy filling.
I’m not normally a big sweets gal, but I could have eaten 2 or 3 more of these things. The crunchy shell gives way to a filling with just the right amount of chocolate chips mixed in. Take them up on the offer to sprinkle powdered sugar over the finished product, you won’t regret the extra sugar kick.
Step 5. Head to the Arthur Avenue Retail Market
When you’re about filled to the gills with cannoli, walk it off (a couple doors down from Madonia) to the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, an indoor farmers market-style setup that houses multiple vendors.
First up, head straight for Mike’s Original Arthur Avenue Italian Deli counter, which has been serving cold cuts, sandwiches, specialty pastas and more for over 50 years. It’s still run by descendants of the original Italian ~famiglia~ and is a must-visit to pick up perfect thin-sliced prosciutto, mortadella, salami, and more. We also tried out the spicy soppressata, which the guys behind the counter kindly offered to slice for us, saving us time (and maybe even a thumb).
After all of these sweet and savory bites, walk a couple steps over to the center of the Retail Market where you’ll find The Bronx Beer Hall, a bar and local hangout that carries a nice selection of funky New York State brews on tap and an even wider collection of cans. This is a prime spot to round out your evening with some good beer, great company, and even better people-watching.
The bartenders here will let you taste whatever you like, but what’s really special about this place are the regulars cozied up to the standing bar. We got to talking to a few of them about the neighborhood, and they were more than happy to share their tips for where to hit next time we head to Arthur Ave.
We befriended one regular and native New Yorker who insisted the martinis at Enzo’s across the street were a must-try, which brings us to the final (bonus) stop on our crawl …
Step 6. Optional: End with a martini at Enzo’s of Arthur Avenue
Enzo’s is another Arthur Avenue staple right across the street from the market. We headed straight in and snagged seats at the bar, which happened to be right in front of where they prep handmade Neapolitan pizzas.
We ordered dirty vodka martinis and had no complaints, though after watching the bartender drizzle chocolate sauce over a couple of espresso martinis that another table ordered, we’re heading back to taste one of those next time.
Tag @nudgetext when you and your crew make it to Arthur Ave, and let us know your own tips!
Shalayne Pulia is happiest when feeding herself (or her thrift shopping addiction). You can most often find her asking permission to pet every pup she sees, convincing her friends to order more sushi or sipping some off-the-wall wine.
For more DineAWAY ideas:
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A Local's Guide to the Bustling Neighborhood of Astoria
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