Where to Eat on Arthur Avenue: My 3 Favorite Restaurants
While much of the focus of Arthur Avenue is as a one-stop-shop for all your Italian market needs, Little Italy in the Bronx has as many great restaurants as it does food shops. While we love all the restaurants in Little Italy; Antonio's Trattoria, Enzo's, Emilia's, Dominick's, Ann & Tony's, San Gennaro Trattoria, Mangi Pasta, Pasquale's Rigoletto, Roberto's and Gerbasi, there are standout dishes at each one.
If you're looking for Sicilian home cooking, we know the place and the precise thing to order. Best stuffed clams? You'll find those at a different spot. When I'm in the mood for exquisite cheesecake I go to the restaurant where it's homemade and unlike anything you'll find in the pastry shops. Our new Pizza, Pasta & Parm Tour is the perfect way to get to know the restaurants on Arthur Avenue and 187th Street, but if you're short on time, here are our three favorite Little Italy restaurants, for three distinct reasons.
If you want to eat at the Most historic restaurant in Little Italy with the best reputation for excellent food and service, 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 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...
2357 Arthur Ave.
When you want an authentic meal identical to what you might find in any good restaurant in Salerno, you go to Zero Otto Nove. (The name of the restaurant comes from Salerno's telephone code.) Roberto Paciullo's second restaurant, opened in 2008, as a more casual version of Roberto's with a Neapolitan style pizza oven. The Arthur Avenue flagship has been so successful that Paciullo has opened locations in Manhattan and Westchester and has recently expanded the dining room at the original.The menu is packed with all sorts of southern Italian dishes, though, from pasta to seafood to ragù Salernitana complete with meatballs and a pork skin (cotica) braciola. Always let the waiter tell you the specials. Anything made al cartoccio (cooked in a foil bag) is reliably good as is their short rib special cooked in Peroni and gorgonzola sauce with sweet cherry peppers. They don't take reservations so go early or be prepared to wait.
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. Tell him that Danielle and Christian sent you.