When I left Italy in March, I’ll confess it wasn’t so much a graceful departure as a beeline to escape. I was tired of fighting bureaucracy in the Living Museum, missed the bustle of a proper city, and had eaten so much cured meat that my sweat stank with lactic fermentation. Italophiles may weep, but I’ll say it anyway—I was totally over Italy and ready to abandon la dolce vita forever.
But like a mosquito to bare arms, I couldn’t stay away for long. Soon, I’d gotten my fix of cilantro and tacos, and my kilo-block of parmesan had run out. Luckily, this is New York and you can get anything here—for a price—so I began discreetly scouting for new dealers.
They said Arthur Avenue was where I wanted to go. It seems that while the Little Italy of downtown Manhattan has long been overrun by tourists and Armenian restauranteurs masquerading as Italians, this little stretch of the Bronx still retains small town character and old men leisurely watching football.
Transportation to Arthur Avenue consists of taking the B/D train to Fordham, a solid 90-minute trek from Brooklyn. The surrounding neighborhood isn’t the greatest, but during the day, I didn’t feel uncomfortable at any point. After you leave the station, walk about seven blocks to the east along 186th St, then one block south on 3rd Ave, and another four blocks east on 187th St until you reach Arthur Ave. The Italian community is centered around this intersection, radiating 3-4 blocks in each direction.
Continue reading An Old New World: Arthur Avenue’s Little Italy