Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Guide to Arthur Avenue

I've posted before about Arthur Avenue (Little Italy in the Bronx) but I didn't have a fancy camera at the time, so there were no pictures. I thought I would take you through a typical visit for me. This one was a few weeks ago when the fridge was particlarly sparce.

First, I hop on the MetroNorth train from Grand Central, Harlem-Line local (blue train), to Fordham Road. The ride is about 20 minutes. From the station, it is a short walk down Fordham Road (keep Fordham University on your left). Make a right onto Arthur Avenue, a block after White Castle.

The start of all the shops is a few blocks down - you'll pass a playground and a Chase Bank. If you don't have cash, get it now, most places only take cash. It is about a ten minute walk, 15 at the most, from the train. Oh, and I always bring an empty back pack and a messanger bag to bring back my loot.

Of course, you can drive there also...if you have a car.

My first stop is usually at Full Moon Pizza. This is my absolute favorite pizza in New York.

The crust has a slight crunch and the sauce is tangy and flavorful. Plenty of cheese. A root beer is a nice accompaniment.

I then walk further down the Ave - taking in all the shops, planning my strategy, making a mental shopping list. This takes me to the end of the road and makes me hungry again. So I stop at the Arthur Avenue market. In the back is Mike's Deli. This was once a must stop for me, but they may have gotten too big for their britches. They've been featured on Food Network one too many times I think. I wanted to order one of their Greco Specials (potato, salami, cheese wrapped in dough) - but they wouldn't heat it up unless I bought $25 worth of them! So, on to Cafe Mercado on the other side for pasta fagioli. The macaroni is al dente and the soup is perfectly comforting on a cold winter day.

Ok, time to start shopping. While in the market, I usually pick up the green olives at the stand over by Mike's Deli. Ask for a taste to make sure you get what you want. Sometimes, I get spicy red pepper spread from the counter near Mercado's on the far left side. If I need vegetables, I'll pick some up here - also if you need any staples like risotto or dried pasta - this is a good place. However, if you need sauce or olive oil - go to Teitel Brothers, it is a few bucks cheaper there.

Next to Biancardi's. If you don't live in Manhattan, you may not think the meat here is as cheap as I do. But you can't deny the quality of the meat and the guys behind the counter are pros.

The order for me this time: 8 veal cutlets pounded very thin, 2 pork chops, 1 lb veal stew meat, 2 rib eyes, 2 strip steaks, a chicken cut into pieces, 1/2 lb prosciutto. I've also gotten their short ribs, chicken cutlets, osso bucco, and sausage - all great. Into the back pack it all goes and onto the next shop.

Madonia's Bakery is my favorite place to pick up bread. On this visit, we picked up some pizza dough and a loaf of the olive bread. But their plain round loaves are great and make excellent paninis. We also stopped at Teitel Bros. and picked up some Dominick's sauce and olive oil before hitting Casa della Mozzarella (around the corner from Full Moon).

CdM has by far the absolute best fresh mozzi I have ever had. You must try it, really you are missing out if you don't. I prefer the medium salted ball of mozzi. The husband perfers the knots, or bocconcini. If you smile and ask nicely, they'll usually give you one to taste. They are also generous about tasting all sorts of other cheeses. The order on this visit was a medium salted ball and 1/2 pound of grated parmesan.

A little further down on the right side across from the church is Borgatti's. Fantastically fresh pasta, cut to order, in addition to ravioli and manicotti. I love this place as much for the atmosphere as I do for the pasta. You won't notice it when you first get there, but strike up a conversation with anyone who works there and the atmosphere seeps past the counter.

We took home a pound of spaghetti (2nd to thinnest cut) and a pound of pasta cut as thick as possible. We asked them to pack them in 1/2 pound portions so that we could freeze it and have several meals. We always ask for the recommended cooking time and write it on the package so we are all set to go when it comes time to cooking.

We also got a pound of cavatelli and a dozen ravioli.

All this shopping is tiring and a stop at DeLillo's Pastry is in order.

The cappuccino is perfectly foamy (frozen capp in the summer is also good). It is nearly impossible not to give in to the desserts begging to be eaten, so this visit included a mini cannoli. We also walked out of there with a dozen cookies as a house gift for a dinner party we were going to the next night.

Now rested and caffeinated - it was time for the walk back to the train. If you're alone, which often I am, this walk can feel a little long and heavy. But with the husband it is a cinch.

It may seem strange to walk around with a backpack full of meat.

But it is all worth it when you look at your goodies on the counter, carefully load your freezer and fridge, and plan out your meals.

That evening started with a snack of mozzi, prosciutto, and olives.

Followed by broiled steaks, ravioli with Dominick's sauce and fresh parmesan, and some sauteed asparagus.

The next morning, eggs with parmesan and asparagus accompanied with a panini made of olive bread and mozzarella can't be beat. Especially when enjoyed with the Sunday Times. And prosciutto is so much less messy then bacon. The olive bread panini was new for us - and I would definitely do it again.

Many more meals have come from this one trip and there are even more to come. Absolutely worthwhile for the experience, deliciousness, and the efficiency.

Remember, this is all just a guide - the best part is discovering your own favorites and trying new things. Don't forget to be adventurous.

Here's a website for specific addresses and more information:


Anonymous said...

Better late than never. Loved your tour of Arthur Ave. You are definitely your Father's daughter!
Does any one recognize you when you come into their establishment?I remember when backpacks carried books... msg. from the southern
folks. Pics aregreat of what you prepared!!! Keep up the good work.

David said...

Just came across your blog while Googling Arthur Avenue. I'm an ex-NYC'er but moved away many years ago, but since I grew up in Queens I never visited Arthur Ave. Saw the Food Network thing and knew I just HAD to plan to go there my next visit back home...which is this coming weekend! Thanks for turning me on to far more places than just Mike's (I'm still getting a Greco, though!)...I plan to bring a cooler and get goodies for more than just the one lunch during my short visit home.

Amy said...

GReat blog site! We are doing research as we plan to visit there this weekend and this will really help!! Thanks.

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