It’s best to say you cannot eat your way through Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx in a day, and with so many amazing delis and bakeries and shops to choose from it was difficult to select just a couple of places to feature. The Bronx’s Little Italy rivals any tourist-laden cultural equivalent, maintaining a lot of the same qualities and traditions from its beginnings when it became a popular place for Italian immigrants to make their home.
So many of the same things that made Arthur Avenue popular in the 1930s and 1940s, the meats, cheeses, pasta, pastries, wine and more, are all the same reasons for its popularity today.
Although there are several of each kind of store in the neighborhood—bakeries, for instance—each has its own special something that sets it apart from all of the others. And some of the most exciting gems in the neighborhood are tucked into the side streets of the avenue.
Borgatti’s Ravioli & Egg Noodles, which opened in 1935 in the existing location (632 E. 187th St.), is alive and well in its third generation thanks to the ongoing family traditions of Mario and Chris Borgatti. The store cranks out fresh pasta all day long to keep up with the demand.
“Cheese ravioli is traditionally everyone’s favorite, especially for the older generation,” said Chris, “although the flavored ravioli, like meat with spinach or pumpkin, are very popular with the younger crowd.”
A walk through the Arthur Avenue neighborhood will transport you back more than 60 years to the days when a stroll through the market was not just a necessity for your consumables, but a social staple of familiar faces, networking and the word on the street.
The Calandras brought their cheeses from Italy in the 1920s. The store, originally at 115th Street and 2nd Avenue, moved up to the Bronx’s Little Italy in the 1940s (2314 Arthur Ave.). Calandra’s Cheese Owner Tony Calandra said fresh ricotta, which is all-natural and has no preservatives, draws the crowd.
The skills, recipes and quality of finished product have transfered through several generations. One thing that can be said for the shop owners: the amount of pride in their store and their products is abundantly clear.
“You see very few actual butcher shops anymore, especially ones that deal with the whole animal,” said Peter Servedio, co-owner of Peter’s Meat Market inside the Arthur Avenue Market (2344 Arthur Ave.). “People come from all over for more than 45 years just for our veal top round and more than 15 kinds of fresh sausage, some from Italy.”
Put Arthur Avenue on your itinerary, especially pairing it with a visit to the Bronx Zoo, New York Botanical Gardens or a game at Yankee Stadium, just blocks away from the bustling Belmont neighborhood.