Tuesday, August 30, 2011

NYC's "Real " Little Italy

If you read many of my posts it seems that I am always running out of the city and into "greener pastures",  so to speak.  Usually in a more southerly direction, but every once in a while I explore little treasures in my own backyard.  Or another borough.  For someone born and raised here, it took me a lifetime to finally take a trip up to the Bronx, New York neighborhood of Arthur Avenue.  

This mural greeted me as I parked my car in a municipal lot, so I knew I was going to have a great day
It was so much more than just an hour's car ride for me, I traveled into my childhood with so many memories of food, relatives, a church, and oh, did I mention food?  

Arthur Avenue may not be many blocks long, but each of the few blocks that comprise it are packed with restaurants, bakeries, specialty stores, a beautiful church, and smiling people just walking around and taking it all in.  We just took it slow and started on one side of the street, but then we zig zagged our way up and down.

This green market was a treasure trove of fresh produce, deli meats, butcher shops, spices and sweets imported from Italy, even hand rolled Cuban cigars!

A baker's dream, freshly ground spices, all sorts of dried fruits, nuts, flavorings

nougat, or torrone in Italian, sweet and full of nuts
I bought some vanilla nougat from Italy, which was always in the house for Christmas and Easter holidays

The produce was beautiful and the prices were not bad
This gentleman doesn't stop rolling those cigars!

closed for vacation  :(

I probably did the most damage here, in Madonia's Bakery.  Pastries, biscotti, bread of all shapes and sizes, bread sticks, taralle, (like a bread stick but shaped in an oval flavored with fennel seed and coarse black pepper), freselle (peppery hard biscuits that my mother would serve with spicy tomato sauce and mussels and clams) and jumbo freselle which I like topped with tomato bruschetta.  This cracker needs a little soak first under running cool water, then drizzle with good olive oil, some balsamic, seasonings like oregano, s&p, eat as is or with bruschetta--yum).

Jumbo freselle waiting to be dressed!
A colorful hand painted piano in the green market, a young shopper sat down to play

Talk about a ham sandwich, it doesn't get any better than prosciutto di Parma!  $5.49/ lb tells me this one is domestic.  Taken in Vincent's Meat Market.

There were seed packets for San Marzano tomatoes

Holy cannoli, this place, Egidio's,  had the best looking stuff

The showcases were fogging up, probably from the hot humid air outside and a/c inside, or it could have been from my panting!  :)

A visit to a very beautiful church, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.  I said prayers and lit a candle for my mom, Carmela.  Many, many years ago when my mother was a young girl, she would travel with her family to attend a special Mass for people suffering with any afflictions.  Her young cousin Angelo had polio, and they would bring him to get a special Blessing.   Limbs made of wax would be placed on the altar.  I don't know where you could purchase it,  I just have the memory of my mother telling me the story.

Then it was lunch time!  We ate in Emilia's, where there was a great lunch special for $11.95.  Bruschetta and delicious Arthur Avenue bread.  

My friend Kathy had osso buco over saffron risotto.  Kathy's long-time friend Gloria, who lives ten minutes away and acted as "tour guide", and I both ordered chicken Daniela, a chicken breast sauteed with red peppers, mushrooms, mozzarella, topped with a light marinara sauce, served with either veggies (my choice) or pasta (Gloria's choice)

Chicken Daniela
Afterwards, we stopped next door to the parking lot at Morrone's Pasticceria for cappuccino and a mini sfogliatella (clam shaped very flaky crust with a ricotta filling and orange flavoringand biscotti.  The perfect ending to a perfect day.

But it didn't end quite yet.  We drove Gloria home, and we stopped at her parish, St. Lucy's, which has a beautiful grotto called Lourdes New York.  It was a special haven for people to sit and pray after the events of 9/11.  

Kathy and Gloria got me a bottle of water to take home, thanks girls!

When we were heading back to my car, I looked down and saw this little beauty....I had said a prayer for a special intention of mine, and I just felt that out in the Universe, that little prayer was duly noted.

Joining La at A Musing Potpourri for her End of Summer Celebration Party, as this was just about my favorite day this summer, as well as Seasonal Sundays at The Tablescaper, Stone Gable for On the Menu Monday, Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday


Special Notes:  

I have included two links to one of my favorite blogs and bloggers, Mille Fiori Favoriti, Patricia, who did fantastic posts in the past about Arthur Avenue.  It was her post about Arthur Avenue that pulled me into her blog, and all Blogland, hook line and sinker.  So with Pat's blessing,  here are her links:



Here are links for more general info if you ever want to visit:



  1. Barbara...I hate to admit I've never been to NYC, I have a childhood friend that has been trying to get me there for years. If I ever do get that way I'm going to request a tour of Arthur Ave's Little Italy. Thank you for a delightful tour!


  2. Sounds like a great trip Barbara! I would have been disappointed that the pasta shop was closed too, but it looks like there were plenty of other places to go:@)

  3. You really are fortunate to have so many interesting places nearby to enjoy.

  4. Oh, I just opened your post with these intersting pictures. (haha, rolling sigers)
    But 11:30 pm now, I promise to write a comment after reading tommorow, my friend.
    Love and Hugs, orchid.

  5. Barbara, This was a fun and delicious post! NYC culture is so much fun and so different from my corner of the world. I did so enjoy my visit!

  6. I am so glad you get to run and go, keep it up, full speed ahead. Richard from My Old Historic House.

  7. Barbara, I am so glad we were able to spend a wonderful day on Arthur Ave.Your car was on auto pilot! LOL!That parking spot next to the wall mural was just perfect!I enjoyed seeing our adventure from your camera's view.

  8. Dearest Barbara,
    Oh, Arthur Avenue♡♡♡
    Firstly, I was surprised at the mural. I somehow found it not appropriate at first. Big heart in Christ's chest. Readding your comment on it,haha I was wrong!!!
    I didn't know the word "nougat", sounds like my favourite if I can taste them☆☆☆ Spacious and wonderful market place!!! Haha, I truly love the man rolling the cigars. I am ammazed with the painted piano, colorful isn't it♬♬♬
    And what a variety of cakes, yummy!!!
    Oh, the church looks really holy (ok? as an English. My hubby had a polio when little)
    OH, and I also learned the word "grotto" Sure is the sacred place. TANK YOU SO MUCH for the GRAND TOUR☆☆☆ Really enjoyed it!!!
    And your phrase "I had said a prayer for a special intention of mine, and I just felt that out in the Universe, that little prayer was duly noted." really touched me.
    LOVE, your friend, Orchid.

  9. Hi Barbara,

    I'm so glad you're okay after the hurricane and thanks for your prayers for everyone else! In our area of North Carolina, we didn't get much of anything (but I'm certainly not complaining). We had major tornado damage to our home back in May 1998, and we had to move out for about eight weeks. Not something I want to go through again.

    I loved your post on Arthur Avenue. My husband's parents took us, along with our son, to NYC in 2005 to see the Christmas decorations. It was great fun!! We saw the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, went to Central Park, Grand Central Station, MOMA, and Ground Zero. We also had lunch in Little Italy, but I don't think it was the same Little Italy you have written about. We had a really good lunch at a very good price. Fun times to remember.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and for taking time to leave a comment. I'm always glad when you visit :)

    Denise at Forest Manor

  10. Oh how I miss NYC! This post was lovely, lovely! Made me think of freshly made mozzarella cheese and the smell of garlic. MMMMMMMMMMM!

    I would be happy if I die at a great bakery. :)

  11. Hello Barbara:
    We have, sadly, not yet managed to see New York but Arthur Avenue will surely be written down in readiness for our future visit. We have found your post absolutely fascinating and, of course, made even more special as it links with your childhood memories and experiences.

    Your beautiful photographs transported us straight into the heart of Little Italy, we only wish that we could have been walking alongside you in person and sampling that most delicious looking lunch.

  12. Barbara,
    We love NYC especially for the food! We spent our honeymoon there. We keep saying that we need to make another trip there. Perhaps soon. Jane

  13. Hi Barbara, Looks like you had a fun day and what a lovely church. You don't find them like that in the country, beautiful! Seems like you are wanting to get to the country, must be the fresh air. Have a great day.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  14. Treasure spots in your backyard! Love all the spots found in NY. Ahhh, the bakeries....
    xo Cathy

  15. You're making me hungry! I was just talking with a friend about how we are overdue for a visit to Arthur Avenue. One of my favorite places and Madonia's is my favorite place there. I worked with one of the Madonias and have a spot in my heart for them and their bread is the best!
    Thanks for your sweet thoughts.

  16. Hi Barbara! I love New York but have never been to Little Italy. Now I certainly want to go. Love those markets and the food! Yummy!
    Thanks for popping in to see me and be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  17. Thanks for the wonder tour. The food looked fabulous. I was salivating just looking. My next door neighbor is Italian. She prepares the real Italian food and it to the best in the world.
    The grotto was beautiful. We need these little outposts of peace in this troubled world.
    I have never been to Arthur Avenue but I did go to Orchard Street in Manhattan to that Italian community. That was quite an experience. I wish I had a good camera back then.
    Have a great holiday weekend, Ginger

  18. Hi Barbara: What an interesting post. I am new to your blog and I am your newest follow. I look forward to many more visits. Have a great week. Blessings, Martha

  19. Hi Barbara!

    I thoroughly enjoyed my visit today. Arthur Avenue is just the type of place I love to visit. It sounds like a wonderful day spent with special friends.

    The pastry case made my stomach growl. YUM!

    Thanks for linking up to the celebration.

  20. Sounds like a fun day with friends. Wonderful food and gorgeous church.

  21. Hmm.. no krispy creams, Subway, Safeway? Such a beautiful, real way to shop for your food. I loved seeing your day!

    Blessings, Debbie

  22. I haven't been to Arthur Ave. I grew up in Huntington, but my Irish born bil is from da Bronx! In fact we call that kind of bread, Bronx Bread!
    Thanks for the tour, made me hungry.
    I don't know about you, but I am getting anxious about the 10th anniv of 9/11. Reliving the sadness all over again as we do every year. But those who lost love ones live it every day.

  23. I was in New York for the World's Fair in 1964, so of course I don't remember much since I was so little. My daughter has now been twice (if you want to count this time) and she has tried to explain to me the layout of the city, the boroughs (sp?) and how things are situated around that area. For a small town midwestern girl, it seems very confusing! I must say, the shops in this part of NY look wonderful. Oh, that pastry...yummy! I really enjoyed this!

  24. All this sounds so familiar to me, the bread, the pasta etc, because Mr.G is Italian and I have been very often in Italy and his family. When we were in NY we also visited "Little Italy" that was so funny for us to find a spot of Italy in the middle of New York !

  25. It's funny...when I was reading this post I was thinking about Pat's blog and how you two should meet...and then all the sudden you referred to her.

    What a lovely outing. The sights, sounds, smells and tastes look fabulous!

    Thanks for letting me tag along.

  26. Wow, major flashback for me... I remember the vanilla nougat so well.. like I just ate it a few minutes ago. My father grew up in the Bronx and talks about Arthur Ave all the time. Wonderful, wonderful post!

  27. So sorry I am late seeing this fantastic post about Arthur Ave, Barbara! I am still in Denver visiting my kids and grandkids and computer time is rare as I have been so busy. I com ehome tomorrow--the week went by too fast! Thank you so much for your sweet words about my blog and the link love --that was so nice of you!

    I know you must have had a good time at Arthur Ave as there are so mnay wonderful authentic Italian shops to visit. I love going there!

  28. So so many of the foods you show and mention, I have never even heard of. It always amazes me the difference in foods from one area to another.
    I am so glad you had such a great time..and memories of childhood are always so good.
    xo bj

  29. Looks like a great day. For all of my excursions, I've never been to Arthur Avenue. Thanks for being a part of Seasonal Sundays.

    - The Tablescaper

  30. My girlfriend took me last year and we ate our way through the neighborhood! We were there the end of July and I loved that so many of the shops posted closing notices fore their upcoming vacations. We all need more of these. While there I fell in love with the rice balls and I just have to share my guest post on my friend's blog http://discoveringjuliachilds.blogspot.com/2010/08/sorry-julia-i-just-had-to-try-rice.html

  31. Looks like a fun outing. Thanks for taking us along.

  32. Your post made my day! I'm originally from Astoria-Queens and so the childhood memories from Little Italy are just how you described them, I never missed St. Genaro's Feast every year and used to love to go eat there and specially have me a big and gorgeous "cannoli" pastry!! Nice meeting you, I won't miss your posts now that I'm your newest follower! Hugs, FABBY


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