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Bronx Little Italy, Savor the Flavor

Bronx Little Italy Still Has Some Old World Charm

bronx little italy bronx arthur avenue belmont bx bronx little italy shops shopping restaurants dining bx little italyJanuary 21, 2020 / Belmont Neighborhood Bx / Bronx Shopping NYC / Bronx Restaurants NYC / Bronx Buzz NYC.

The past couple of years I've had the opportunity to spend some time in Bronx Little Italy which is located in the Belmont neighborhood in the central Bronx. The neighborhood is just south of Fordham University and the New York Botanical Gardens and just west of the Bronx Zoo, so it's well positioned to accommodate visitors to these attractive destinations. But most of the traffic in Bronx Little Italy still comes from within the neighborhood itself, the surrounding Bronx neighborhoods, and from the greater NYC metro area neighborhoods, into which the descendants of Belmont Bronx Italian families had moved.

The heart of Bronx Little Italy runs along Arthur Avenue south of East Fordham Road / 189th Street to East 184th and Crescent Road. It also expands a bit east and west, along 187th and Crescent Road, but the epicenter is along Arthur Avenue. Arthur Avenue was named after Chester Arthur who was the 21st President of the United States [1881 - 1885].

 

Brief History of Little Italy in the Bronx

bronx little italy bronx arthur avenue belmont bx bronx little italy shops shopping restaurants dining bx little italyThe Belmont section of the Bronx was once owned by the Lorillard family, who were wealthy tobacconists in the 1800's. Some of their cigarette brands included Salem, Kook and Winston, which were among the top selling cigarettes, back when it was fashionable to ingest cancer causing agents in such a manner. They named the area Belmont, which means beautiful mountain, as the neighborhood is comprised of hilly areas. In the late 1800's, as the Gilded Age ended, the Lorillard estate was broken into segments and sold off by the heirs.

According to Wikipedia the first wave of Italian immigrants starting coming to America following the unification of Italy in 1861 and ran for the latter part of that century. The second wave of Italian immigrants came between the turn of the 20th century [1900] and ending around the time of the beginning of WWII [1938 - 1940]. Many Italians flocked to the Bronx, and Arthur Avenue in the Bronx became a center of Italian food and culture. And it's been that way ever since.

One of the main attractions on Arthur Avenue is the Arthur Avenue retail market, which was founded in part by NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. LaGuardia was of Italian and Jewish descent and a reformer, who promoted the market as a means of moving street vendors off the street and inside, as outside vending was somewhat unsanitary and believed to be a health issue.


Bronx Little Italy, Savor the Flavor

Bronx Little Italy Still Has Some Old World Charm

January 21, 2020 / Belmont Neighborhood Bx / Bronx Shopping NYC / Bronx Restaurants NYC / Bronx Buzz NYC.

Continued.

Arthur Avenue Shops & Restaurants Draw Italians Back to Belmont

bronx little italy bronx arthur avenue belmont bx bronx little italy shops shopping restaurants dining bx little italyToday Belmont doesn't contain the overwhelming Italian population it once did, as second and third generation Italians moved out to the suburbs on Westchester, Long Island, Staten Island and New Jersey. But that said, while the Italian families moved out, they still return to eat at the Italian restaurants and the Italian shops where you can find a selection of Italian goods hard to find anywhere else.

Some of the Italian shops have been in the family for decades to a century plus. The one I know about is Teitel, which is a dry goods / packaged goods retailer on a corner of Arthur Avenue just south of Ciccarone Park. There are a couple of Italian butcher shops that offer Italian specialty meats. A number of Italian bakeries that still make fresh Italian breads and pastries somewhere between daily and several times each week. There are a couple of fresh fish markets, offering an array of delights from the sea. And of course the Arthur Avenue Retail Market is still very much alive and well, selling fresh produce, meats, fish, dry good and other items including freshly rolled cigars.

And of course there are a wide number of Italian restaurants in the Bronx Little Italy in Belmont. A number of these have relatively speaking, new owners, but you'll still also find a number of them that have stayed in the family for a couple or more generations. But for the latter, these days you have to look a bit harder, which we're in the process of doing.

 

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church & the Feast of St. Anthony

bronx little italy bronx arthur avenue belmont bx bronx little italy shops shopping restaurants dining bx little italyThere's a large cathedral, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, built by the Italian families in the first two decades of the 1900's. I spoke to one of the priests there who still says a mass in Italian for the roughly one hundred Italian parishoners who frequent the church.

In early June Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church hosts a big festival - the Feast of St. Anthony in the Bronx - along 187th Street in front of the church. The feast attracts both old and young alike, as well as new residents and old timers who left the neighborhood, as it's one big communal reunion.


NY Botanical Gardens History - Bronx Neighborhood News

NY Botanical Gardens & Bedford Park & Belmont Neighborhood Bronx News & Related Info

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