The Wonders of Arthur Avenue
Written By: Helen Yuet Ling Pang
On my most recent New York visit, I decided to cover all five boroughs instead of staying in Manhattan; a bad habit of mine as a former New York resident. This is how my husband and I discovered the charms of Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, regarded by many as the ‘real Little Italy’.
Arthur Avenue is a little Italian enclave of traditional food shops, delicatessens and restaurants. In what used to be a predominantly Italian-American neighbourhood of the city, many of these businesses date back two or three generations.
From our starting point at Arthur and East 187th Street, we walked to 184th then back up again on the other side of the street to admire the eclectic family-owned shops and goods for sale. The stores were packed with older Italian-Americans, stocking up on weekly provisions and catching up with friends before enjoying a leisurely lunch.
Gastronomic offerings included homemade, hand-pulled mozzarella at cheese monger, Casa della Mozzarella, fresh semolina bread at bakery G. Addeo & Sons and a dizzying array of cured meats and sausages at Mike’s Deli inside Arthur Avenue Retail Market. Best of all was the visit to Madonia Brothers Bakery, a baking institution that has been in business since 1918. Madonia bakes everything on the premise and is famous for its cannoli, filled only when ordered, and its varieties of biscotti. Naturally we bought large bags of toasted almond as well as Napolitano (cherries, angelica and almond) biscotti to share with family and friends back in London.
Our culinary adventure on Arthur Avenue ended with a superb lunch at Zero Otto Nove, where we feasted on one of the best pizzas we’ve ever eaten, and of course spaghetti and meatballs. As a food blogger, I’m always searching for remarkable food experiences, and I certainly discovered one of the most memorable ones at Arthur Avenue.
Photo Source: Helen Yuet Ling Pang/On the Frog
Meet the Writer:
Helen Yuet Ling Pan, is a well traveled, London based food and travel blogger. She was born in the UK, grew up in Germany and also spent time living in Beijing and New York. Her parents, originally from Hong Kong, have always owned restaurants which meant dining and food were part of daily conversations and experiences growing up. As a go-to person for restaurant and food recommendations to her friends, Helen started her blog, On the Frog, to capture her finds.
01 Do you entertain at home?
My husband and I do entertain at home when we have time. Our style is simple, relaxed and informal and we like to try out new recipes on family and friends. In the summer we also grow our own vegetables which we incorporate into the menu.
02 What can always be found on your table?
On our dining table and sideboard, we have many beautiful things collected from our travels, including a pair of Danish teak and melamine salad servers found in a vintage shop in Copenhagen and a ceramic condiment set with bamboo shichimi togarashi dispenser from J Period in Tokyo. We like to finish the meal serving dessert on our iittala dessert plates and English tea in mugs from Arabia Finland, or Chinese and Japanese tea using our tea set from Spin Ceramics in Beijing.
03 Are there any entertaining traditions or customs that are followed in your household?
It’s traditional in Chinese homes to make sure that all guests are well fed as soon as they step through the door. Tea and snacks will be offered on arrival, lunch or dinner will be a big affair with numerous dishes covering the entire table, then there will be more food and drink offered after the main meal. My mother also likes to end every meal with a small amount of chocolate. My husband is English but he likes to entertain my mother’s way!
04 Best meal of your life …
In Kobe, Japan. Twenty five years ago, I had Kobe beef in a restaurant and it was the softest, most flavourful meat I have ever had to date.
05 Top three places on your travel wishlist:
Yunnan, China for unusual mushrooms that only grow there, back to Bologna to eat at my favourite restaurants and to my holy grail, San Sebastian, which has always been on my wish list.