People always ask us which is the best restaurant on Arthur Avenue. The answer is…it depends. Do you want old school Italian American food? Something closer to what you tasted on your last trip to Italy? Do you want Sicilian street food? Neapolitan seafood? I’d recommend specific dishes at different restaurants for each of these. Below is our highlights list.
If you’re looking for the best restaurant for Sunday on Arthur Avenue, join us for Italian Sunday, a roving 3-course feast.
If you want to eat at the most historic restaurant in Little Italy that is also friendly for groups and families go to…
2342 Arthur Ave.
Nowhere on Arthur Avenue will you find better Italian-American and Neapolitan classics than at Mario's Restaurant, a staple here since 1919. Mario's started as a pizzeria with a window open to the street and later became a fine dining restaurant. Today, the fifth generation of the Migliucci family has transformed Mario's once again to give it a more relaxed atmosphere with the same focus on high-quality food. Pizza is still a highlight here, Joe Migliucci makes fresh mozzarella by hand each day for his pies, but you can only get it as your main course during lunch. (At dinner, it's available as an appetizer.) They have classics that are almost extinct on Italian restaurant menus nowadays like snails in butter and garlic sauce and spiedini alla romana which is skewered bread and mozzarella that is deep fried and then topped with a hot anchovy dressing. They take reservations and are very family friendly.
We have a special Mario’s menu just for our guests on our Private Shopping & Tasting Tour + Lunch
If you want contemporary Italian food, just like you would get in a restaurant in Italy today, go to...
608 East 187th Street
When you want an authentic meal identical to what you’ll find in Italy, go to Mangi Pasta on 187th Street. Chef Aurora Cerrato, a native of Naples, is maniacal about the quality of her ingredients. Pasta is made fresh every day and the restaurant doesn’t even own a freezer because that would be wrong. Mangi is the newest addition to the Italian community on Arthur Avenue but has quickly become a destination for Italian expats who want real cacio e pepe, not cacio e pepe made for hipsters.
If you want breakfast, lunch or early dinner..
Café al Mercato
2344 Arthur Avenue
It would be easy to walk by this gem tucked in the corner of the Arthur Avenue Retail Market and brush it off as just another place to get sandwiches. The simplicity disguises what food critic Robert Sietsema calls “one of the city’s most under-appreciated restaurants.” Ralph Esposito serves an array of true home cooking from pasta fasule, tripe stew, frittata di zucchini and a heaven’s version of a classic sausage and pepper sandwich. He makes the best chicken parm sandwich on Arthur Avenue and his pizza, square pies with a crispy bottom like the kind Italian mothers make at home on a cookie sheet are perfection. There’s his bruschetta pie, the lasagna pie or the fig, prosciutto and balsamic glazed pie he makes only during the summertime. Doctors, nurses and EMTs know what a treasure lives in the far left corner of the Market… they’re there when Ralph opens at 7am. Cops, firefighters, the ROMEO (Retired Older Men Eating Out) club and guests of our Shopping & Tasting Tours know, too. We make sure to visit Ralph on every single one of our tours.