The Bronx’s Little Italy, located in the Belmont neighborhood of the city’s northernmost borough, has historically existed along Arthur Avenue and East 187th Street. Today, it spills over to a roughly six-block area that includes pockets of Chinese, Albanian, Puerto Rican and Mexican communities. While many locals and tourists know of Manhattan’s Little Italy in the downtown area of the city, Italian Americans in the Bronx will argue there’s no contest between the two.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a wave of Italian immigrants to the neighborhood brought their culture, and most important to our interests here, their food to the Bronx. Over a century later, New Yorkers are still reaping the delicious benefits of the migration of early working-class Italian immigrants and the food they cooked and sold. While that food culture came from Italy, the Italian American hybrid that was created is its own unique cuisine, and there is perhaps no better place to find that cuisine than Little Italy in the Bronx.
Here are some of the neighborhood’s must-visit establishments.
Restaurants, Delis and More
Founded 48 years ago, Calabria Pork Store is the last remaining salumeria on Arthur Avenue. While they stock packaged grocery items, Calabria Pork Store is specifically a cathedral to all things pork – dry sausage “chandeliers” dangle from the ceiling like monuments to cured meats. Order staples like prosciutto, soppressata and hot sausage by the pound.
Entering Dominick’s is like walking into a stranger’s family dinner and being accepted into the fold immediately. Long tables are often shared with other patrons, and they are adorned with baskets of fresh house bread, red wine and generous portions of all the old-school Italian American classics you can eat. Opt for sharing family style and enjoy a mammoth-sized stuffed artichoke, ravioli drizzled with olive oil and covered with red sauce or the linguini with white clam sauce.
Emilia’s is a great lunch option, teeming with all the Italian American classics you could want and a back patio that welcomes in sunlight. It’s all about the gnocchi at Emilia’s. The delicious miniature dumplings of flour and potato are made by hand in-house and served in a Bolognese sauce.
The pizza chefs at Full Moon Pizza have perfected their craft – a crispy, thin crust and only the best toppings. Specialty slices like chicken parm or BBQ chicken have excellent flavor without overwhelming the pizza.
Joe’s Italian Deli has been providing the Bronx with fully loaded sandwiches, prepared foods, groceries, cheeses and meats since 1979. If you’re new to Joe’s, try some homemade cheese like scarmoza, the Southern Italian cheese made with pieces of sun-dried tomatoes, olives and arugula, or opt for their highly sought after mozzarella.
Randazzo’s is a seafood market that’s open year-round. Ask for a dozen clams or oysters to be shucked open and placed on a platter alongside a wedge of lemon and eat them how they’re supposed to be eaten: swimming in their own seawater brine.
While also a pizzeria, Tony and Tina’s is most well known for their burek, an Albanian favorite that is part pastry, part savory pie. Flakey phyllo dough crust is filled with meat, cheese, pumpkin or spinach creating a multi-textural, crunchy and chewy treat. Make sure to drizzle a spoonful of their tangy homemade yogurt over the top of your burek for the full experience.
Artuso Pastry Shop is the go-to bakery in the Bronx’s Little Italy for sfogliatelle, the shell-shaped pastry with a ricotta and citrus cream filling that is commonly known as “lobster tail” in the States. The sfogliatelle at Artuso’s has a flakey outside, a soft and sweet filling and is generously sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.
Gino’s is an old school bakery with excellent prices and a cannoli that will imprint itself on your brain. The cannoli are fresh and filled with ricotta cream upon ordering. They have a crunchy outer shell and are dipped in pistachio or chocolate chips.
Madonia Bakery has been baking bread on Arthur Avenue since 1918. The smell of fresh bread hits you on the street before you even enter. Choices are plentiful, with savory breads like their ciccola (pane con ciccioli), which is baked with rendered pieces of pork fat, and sweet options like cranberry walnut bread.
Visit Morrone Pastry Shop and Cafe for an after-dinner gelato and a cappuccino. The outdoor seats are perfect for people watching as crowds of hungry patrons navigate their way along Arthur Avenue. Sit and reflect on your day and plan your next visit to Little Italy.
Have you been to the Bronx’s Little Italy? What is your favorite thing to eat there? Tell us in the comments.