Arthur Avenue is a neighborhood that has persisted against all the odds.
It first became an Italian enclave at the turn of the 20th century when a city grid was laid down on farmland that had belonged to the richest woman in New York, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe. Italian immigrants were attracted to the area by jobs at the new Bronx Zoo, Jerome Park Reservoir and the New York Botanical Garden.
Pietro Cinelli, also an immigrant, began to develop real estate on a country lane called Arthur Street that ran past the old Belle Mont mansion. The area grew through the 1960s. Among all the Italian enclaves in the New York metropolitan area, the neighborhood called Belmont, Fordham or just “Arthur Avenue” was always known for high quality Italian shops and restaurants.
From the 1960s to the present day, there have been a million reasons that Little Italy in the Bronx could have disappeared. From the difficult days when “the Bronx was burning” to the present wave of gentrification and retail blight, the butchers, bakers and mozzarella makers kept working, carrying on their traditions, telling their stories and serving a loyal clientele who make the neighborhood a regular destination.
We’re now in the midst of another change. Tour busses are coming regularly including a daily charter bus of tourists from Italy, curious to see how their food traditions have been translated by the immigrant experience. New Yorkers from lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens are coming more frequently to explore this neighborhood which still feels like New York before Target and glass box condos devoured it.
There’s such a concentration and abundance of Italian food products around Arthur Avenue that it‘s hard for newcomers to know what to buy. That’s where our tours come in. We draw on our four generations here and weave you in and around the neighborhood to taste what’s best. This is a community of true artisans who make food in a way that’s often not easy or cost effective, but done right because of tradition, principle and love. If you’ve ever been mystified by the idea that food tastes good because it’s made with love, then come, let us help you have that experience.
In celebration of National Small Business Week, we’re pleased to share our new Bronx Little Italy Treasure Map! We worked with artist Aly Miller to create a fun, illustrated map that highlights our favorite places in the neighborhood. Our goal was also to create a beautiful souvenir of the Arthur Avenue experience as well as a colorful invitation to come back again and again.
We hope you like it!