Arthur Avenue, The Bronx

Just Looking, Thanks.

Just Looking, Thanks.

I’ve heard about The Little Italy of the Bronx for several years now, as one of my clients gives a couple of walking tours there each year.  I maintain the web site for her, so I’m familiar with the tour descriptions.  So, I’ve had it on my back burner list of things to see at some point, but as every venture into the city seems to bring me only to Manhattan, Arthur Ave seemed to be stuck on my back burner.

I was talking with one of my new clients about restaurants as we sat over lunch in Darien a few weeks ago. He was a bit surprised that I knew exactly where to eat down in a town more than 30 minutes from my house, and I confessed that some of my friends and I have an informal restaurant club of sorts. His eyes lit up and he said that he and his wife liked to do the same thing.  So we began exchanging recommendations.  I gathered that he tends more towards steak houses and Italian food.  We exchanged stories about eating at Peter Lugers and Sparks, New York’s top two steak joints, but then he mentioned some great restaurants in Arthur Avenue.  I told him that though it is on my list, I had not yet been.  So the next thing I knew, he invited me to join a group he was taking down on his annual trip the Saturday before the Super Bowl.

And so I went.

Arthur Ave is indeed an interesting destination.  The atmosphere is the first thing you notice about the place.  As I entered the door to the market, I saw a cluster of old Italian men gathered to one side, laughing over a game of cards, and saying things like, “fugetaboutit!”  At a table across the aisle, a man carefully rolled cigars.  Then I started seeing the rest of the mayhem that is the main market at Arthur Ave.  People crowded the aisles, barking out orders to attendants behind rows of hanging sausage, meat counters, produce stands, and barrels of olives.  The variety of food is not something you run into every day.  I’m not sure I could tell you anwhere else you could go and find freshly killed rabbits, pigs feet, cow tongue, ox tails, kidneys, and… um, hand-rolled cigars all in the same place.  Fortunately for me, anyway, there was also some wonderful fresh mozerella, pastries, made-to-order pasta, and other more “normal” fare.

I filled up a few shopping bags full of stuff I knew I’d actually eat, dropped it all off in the back of our limo (yes, we rode in style!) and went in to enjoy an Italian-sized feast at Dominick’s.  Here’s a restaurant that lives up to the uniqueness of the area.  One noticeable difference is that the place has no menus.  You sit down and the waiter asks what you want to eat.  Just tell them what you’re in the mood for, and they’ll make it for you.  The place is packed pretty much all day too.  We had a very narrow window of time to get a table, and that was at the odd hour of 3:30.

So, now I’ve been to Arthur Ave.  I’m not sure I’ll just scratch it off my list though.  The pasta I brought home with me was phenomenal.  Does it seem excessive to drive a full hour just to buy your noodles?  Probably.  So, guess I’ll just have to pick up some cheese while I’m at it.

No cow tongue though.

2 Responses to “Arthur Avenue, The Bronx”

  1. Jos Says:

    Looks like fun! 🙂

  2. Ken’s Life » Blog Archive » There’s No Rabbit in Welsh Rabbit Says:

    […] Welsh Rabbit.  OK, at first I thought, uh, rabbit?  Sorry, I passed on buying any of that when I was at Arthur Ave a few weeks ago.  But then I read the recipe and saw that it doesn’t call for any meat […]

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