Arthur Avenue: New York City’s Other Little Italy
Friends, tourists, countrymen…lend me your ears. Arthur Ave., “New York’s other Little Italy,” as the neighborhood calls itself, will welcome you whether you parla italiano or can’t tell polenta from prosciutto.
New York’s most famous Little Italy, of course, is Manhattan’s Mulberry St., a neighborhood on the cusp of evaporating into modernity. The Bronx’s Arthur Ave. has also changed over time, but less.
Visitors venture to Arthur Ave. looking for what they can’t get in downtown Manhattan: a place that feels more like, well, Little Italy. To their surprise, many find the “L’il It’ly” they sought tucked away in the Bronx’s Belmont neighborhood.
Italian immigrants settled in Belmont in the late 1800s. They came to work as stonemasons, craftsmen and laborers on two big construction projects: the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Gardens.
Back then, the bucolic Bronx offered trees, open space, a cool afternoon breeze off the Bronx River and, ahhhhhh, fresh air. Arrivederci to Manhattan’s claustrophobic tenements, its dusty, choking heat, the always-hungry rats and all that banging and clanging.
Like Manhattan’s Mulberry St., Belmont (la bella montagna) was a shock absorber between old and new. The Italian neighborhood’s familiar aromas and language kept the alien American culture, that Big Bad Wolf lurking at the neighborhood’s edges, at a safe distance.
The unwritten code among all ethnic groups of the era was: you look like us, you talk like us, you live with us. Hai capito?
Today’s Arthur Ave is a place that elbowed Father Time in the ribs and told him to slow down. It is a remnant of Old New York and a reminder of a time when the butcher, the baker and the cannoli maker knew their customers’ triumphs and sorrows. That personal touch was warm and felt everywhere. It was one of life’s standards.
In our Made In China times, that touch is cold and fleeting. In a generation or two, when the last Italian descendants leave, it may be but a memory. For now, it is a living exhibit where older generations show younger ones “the way things were.”
Will you experience the Arthur Ave. that existed 100, 50 or even 20 years ago? No. In fact, you may notice a few red flags with double-headed black eagles on them, a sign that the Italians’ neighbors in Europe, the Albanians, are now their neighbors in the Bronx.
Things change. But, for now, where else will you find pasta made from scratch the same day or a shop that sells nothing but cheese, from floor to ceiling?
Si, it used to be this way.
Arthur Ave., Little Italy In The Bronx, NYC: Questions & Directions
187th Street: The 2nd Main St. in New York City’s Other Little Italy
Arthur Ave. is the neighborhood’s main street, but don’t forget about 187th St. It’s the area’s second-most important street. There you’ll find gelato, diet-crushing pastries and, of course, Borgatti’s, where they’ve made fresh pastas daily for almost a century.
At home, prepare Borgatti’s pastas with imported canned San Marzano tomatoes and you’ll wonder how you ate supermarket “spaghetti” for so long. San Marzano tomato cans say “D.O.P.” (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta).
It’s a labeling system similar to that used by winemakers to authenticate a product’s origin. San Marzano tomatoes grow in southern Italy’s nutrient-rich volcanic soil.
Look for them at Borgatti’s or other shops in the area. Just don’t tell Nonna you’re using canned tomatoes.
Best time to visit Arthur Ave., the Bronx?
Most days are fine, but some stores are not open on Sundays. Crowds mostly on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons/evenings. During colder months, most stores are open till 6 p.m. or so, but may be open later during warm months.
I’m getting hungry, where can I eat some Italian Food on Arthur Ave., the Bronx?
Visit chowhound.com and type “Arthur Ave., Bronx” in the search box.
Are there other attractions near Arthur Ave. in the Bronx?
Don’t miss Arthur Ave.’s “Ferragosto,” if you are in New York City in September
You won’t leave Arthur Ave.’s annual “Ferragosto” hungry. Nearby Fordham University offers drivers its short-term parking lot at 685 East Fordham Road. From there, shuttle buses take you to and from Arthur Ave. from 12 noon to 8 p.m.
Getting To the Bronx’s Little Italy
- Use this address for GPS: 2344 Arthur Ave., Bronx, N.Y. 10458
- There is a public parking lot on Arthur Ave, just past 186th Street on the right. If lot is full, street parking is usually not too difficult.
- Tip: bring a cooler to store any fish, meat, desserts or fresh pasta you may buy and to keep your hands free.
Public Transportation To Arthur Ave.
If starting in Manhattan, we recommend taking Metro-North Railroad over the subway for:
- Speed: Metro-North trains arrive in 18 minutes from Grand Central. Subways may take 40 minutes to 1 hour .
- Comfort: Metro-North trains are more comfortable.
- Distance: The Metro-North train station is within walking distance of Arthur Avenue.
- Safety: Crime on Metro-North trains is rare. At night, take a taxi back to the Metro-North station or the subway station. Your restaurant can call one for you. Walking is not recommended.
Read section(s) that correspond to you:
- Section 1: If taking Metro-North from Grand Central Terminal to Arthur Ave.
- Section 2= If taking Metro-North “Harlem Line” from Westchester, Putnam or Dutchess Counties to Arthur Ave.
- Section 3: If taking either Metro-North “Hudson Line” or “New Haven Line” trains from Westchester, Putnam or Dutchess Counties to Arthur Ave.
- Section 4= Walking & bus directions from Metro-North’s “Fordham” station to Arthur Ave.
- Section 5= If taking subway from Manhattan to Arthur Ave.
Metro-North Train & NYC Subway Resources
Section 1: Metro-North Train From Grand Central Terminal To Arthur Ave.
- From Grand Central, take a Metro-North train to the “Fordham” stop.
- You will be on the “Harlem Line.”
- Buy tickets at a ticket window or ticket machine in Grand Central.
- Buying tickets on train is more expensive.
- From Metro-North’s “Fordham” station, walk or take bus to Arthur Ave. (See Section 4 for walking/bus directions).
Section 2: Metro-North “Harlem Line” Train From Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess Counties To Arthur Ave.
- Buy round-trip ticket from your starting point to “Fordham” station.
- Take Metro-North Harlem Line train to “Fordham” station.
- From “Fordham” station, walk or take bus to Arthur Ave. (See Section 4 for walking/bus directions)
Section 3: Metro-North “Hudson Line” & “New Haven Line” Trains From Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess & Connecticut To Arthur Ave.
Only trains on the “Harlem Line” stop at Metro-North’s “Fordham” station.
Some trains from Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties travel on the “Hudson Line.” All trains from Connecticut travel on the “New Haven Line.”
When taking either a “Hudson Line” or “New Haven Line” train, you must transfer to the “Harlem Line.”
You transfer to the “Harlem Line” at the “Harlem-125th St.” station in Manhattan.
If taking either the “Hudson” or “New Haven Line,” you will need to buy two round-trip train tickets:
Ticket 1= Round-trip from your starting point to “Harlem-125th St.” station.
Ticket 2= Round-trip from “Harlem-125th St.” to “Fordham” station.
After buying round-trip tickets, do the following:
- Take Metro-North “Hudson Line” or “New Haven Line” to “Harlem-125th St.” station.
- Exit train at “Harlem-125th St.” station and go downstairs to 1st floor.
- Determine “Harlem Line” train’s departure time/track number by asking ticket agent or consulting information screen.
- Take northbound Harlem Line train from “Harlem-125th St.” station to “Fordham” station.
- Exit train at “Fordham” station. From here, walk or take bus to Arthur Ave. (See Section 4 for walking/bus directions.)
If you start at Tarrytown, New York (Hudson Line)
- Buy 1 round-trip ticket from Tarrytown to Harlem-125th St.
- Buy 1 round-trip ticket from Harlem-125th St. to Fordham station.
If you start at Norwalk, Connecticut (New Haven Line)
- Buy 1 round-trip ticket from Norwalk to Harlem-125th St.
- Buy 1 round-trip ticket from Harlem-125th St. to Fordham station.
Section 4: Walking/Bus Directions From Metro-North Fordham Stop To Arthur Ave.
These directions apply only if you are taking a Metro-North train. They DO NOT apply if taking the subway. (See Section 5 for subway directions.)
Walking From Metro-North’s “Fordham” station to Arthur Ave.
- Turn left after exiting Metro-North’s Fordham station. You’ll see a long, black fence that guards Fordham University. Walk along this fence. You will be on East Fordham Road.
- Walk until you see the gas station at the corner of East Fordham Road and Arthur Ave.
- Cross the street and walk down Arthur Ave. Be very careful crossing East Fordham Road.
- Walk three blocks down Arthur Ave. to 187th Street. The intersection of Arthur Ave. and 187th St. is the heart of the Bronx’s Little Italy.
- This walk takes about 10 minutes at a normal pace.
Taking The Bus From Metro-North’s “Fordham” stop to Arthur Ave.
- After exiting Metro-North’s Fordham station, you will be standing on East Fordham Road.
- Cross to the other side of East Fordham Road.
- Look for buses with these numbers: Bx09, Bx12, Bx17, Bx22.
- Pay for the bus with either a Metro-Card or quarters.
- Ask the driver to alert you when you reach the “Hoffman St.” stop. Hoffman St. is half a block from Arthur Ave.
- Don’t get too comfortable. You will only be on the bus for about two minutes.
- After getting off the bus, look for a gas station at the corner of East Fordham Road and Arthur Ave.
- Turn right down Arthur Ave.
Section 5: Manhattan Subways To Arthur Ave.
B or D Trains= Closest Subways To Arthur Ave., the Bronx
- B or D trains are closest subways to Arthur Ave. D train is faster than B train.
- Take Uptown B or D train to “Fordham” stop in Bronx.
- Exit “Fordham” subway station.
- Take eastbound BX12 bus from corner of East Fordham Road & Grand Concourse.
- Eastbound buses say “Bx12 via Pelham Pkwy” on front.
- Exit bus at Hoffman St. stop (ask driver for help if needed).
- At Hoffman St., walk to gas station at corner of Fordham Rd./Arthur Ave.
- Make right onto Arthur Ave. and walk 3 blocks or so to shops.
4 Train From Manhattan To Arthur Ave.:
- Take Uptown 4 train to “Fordham Road” stop in Bronx.
- Exit “Fordham Rd.” subway station and take eastbound BX12 bus from corner of Fordham Road & Walton Ave.
- Eastbound buses say “Bx12 via Pelham Pkwy.”
- Exit bus at Hoffman St. stop
- At Hoffman St., walk to gas station at corner and make a right onto Arthur Ave.