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Arthur Avenue Experience — Huge Disappointment

Never been to Arthur Avenue before, despite growing up in Manhattan and having lived in the Bronx and now Brooklyn. So my wife and I accepted our friend's invitation to dinner at Pasquale's Rigoletto with reasonably high expectations. Been hearing for years how high the quality of Italian food in Arthur Avenue restaurants.

We knew transporation was gonna be a problem, so we arranged black car service from midtown, where we both work and, afterward, home to Park Slope from Arthur Avenue. Expensive but well worth the convenience, especially given the driving rains.

It was our friend's wife's birthday (significant one, ending in zero), so he had invited about 100 people. Pasquale's Rigoletto (PR) has two rooms and our party took one entire room. It was a sit-down dinner, served catering style, with few choices of food or wine. The reds were OK and the whites were forgettable, but since we didn't see the wine list can't really make a judgment call.

The food was hit and miss, some good (one early pasta dish — rigatoni — in particular), and some ho-hum, as you might expect in a large bustling setting. Nothing really outstanding and nothing really off-putting. It may be that if you order off the menu you could get something really good.

But the real disappointment was the three hours of noise that they called a show. When one act ended another one began — no timeouts, no breaks, no pity for our poor ears. It was impossible to chat or talk unless shouting into your neighbor's ear counts as chatting. The quality of the "entertainment" was, um, REALLY bad. Hmmm, lemme say that again: REALLY REALLY bad. Old-timers singing out of tune (again, as loudly as they could, into mikes that were amplified at least as much as an air-raid siren), with shticks that were out of date in 1975. One guy did an impersonation (and a bad one, at that) of Jimmy Durante. I'm old enough to remember Jimmy Durante, but most of the people there weren't.

Another guy sang military songs (The Marine's Hymn, Anchors Away, The Caissons go rolling along [what the hell IS a caisson, anyway?], etc.) Two women sang songs from the Fifties and tried to get people to sing along.

Outside of a couple of pasta dishes there wasn't anything particularly Italian. Certainly not the "entertainment".

I think our friend thought it would be campy, and maybe to some it was, but to me, and to the friends who sat around me, it was terrible. We had made our car reservations to leave for around 10 PM and by 8 PM we were thinking, '...uh oh..."

I don't know how the people in the other parts of the restaurant stood it. There were speakers all around and no one was exempted from the noise. You had to step outside to get a break, which I did a couple of times, just to let my ears stop ringing.

I don't know if our evening at PR was typical of the Arthur Avenue experience, but if it is, I can't believe there's an audience out there for this stuff.

So that was our single Arthur Avenue experience...

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  1. you went to a bad restaurant in arthur ave...did you not research the boards here? no your evening is not typical of arthur ave, you went the tourista way...

    1. intrepid is absolutely right - your experience has absolutely nothing to do with Arthur Avenue, which is about it's markets, its shops, its charcaters, its restaurants, etc. - not about floor shows and catered affairs. Why denounce just Arthur Avenue for this one bad meal - surely you could wrap up all Italian restaurants under the same blanket, or perhaps all restaurants in NYC? Surely Le Bernardin puts on the same theatrics.

      (OK, I'm going a little overboard here, and I'll stop.)

      Next time you go to Arthur Avenue, and you most certainly should now, go on a Saturday afternoon. Shop the markets, hit one of the cafes, eat oysters on the street, and do some research on this board to find a great restuarant in the area, suce as Roberto's. Need a snack? The area has several Albanian haunts, serving up wonderful bureks. I have the feeling you'd get shot for even suggesting a round of showtunes in one of those joints.

      2 Replies
      1. re: lambretta76

        I've been planning to go to Arthur Ave for a while (and have assembled a list of recs) but haven't heard anything about oysters on the street. Is there a fish market that will open them for you, or is there a restaurant?

        1. re: Produce Addict

          Randazzo's and Cosenza's – dueling fish markets on either side of Arthur Avenue below 186th – have mini-raw bars out on the sidewalk with guys shucking oysters and clams, and plenty of lemons and condiments. Both are nice; I preferred Randazzo's.

        1. I've been living in the Bronx for the last 20 years or so, go to Arthur Ave regularly (primarily for food shopping), and have never eaten at Pasquale's Rigoletto or been recommended to it by anyone I know. Thanks for confirming my expectations (although they may definitely be better when you order from the menu, as you noted).

          Next time, as suggested by others, go for the shops and cafes (Egidio's or De Lillo's are best) - and/or eat at Roberto's (or Dominick's for a red sauce experience). I've also been recommended to Emilia's, but can't vouch for it personally. The Belmont area has its highlights and its traps, too. Looks like you stepped in one.

          1. I haven't been to Arthur Avenue many times, but the last time my friends and I spent too much time at the wine shop up the street from Pasquale's since they were giving free tastings and had some interesting liqueurs. By the time we got to Roberto's, the wait was longer than our stomachs would bear and the wine guy had suggested Pasquale's as an alternative. It was my friend's birthday and she liked the look of the place so we went in. There was no floor show and the dining experience was pleasant all around. The wine was fine, not amazing but fine (red). This was about eight months ago so I don't remember exactly what we ordered but everything was tasty, especially a pasta from the specials of the day. We also ordered a veal scallopine and a chicken dish. I know it's not one of the best places up there and not worth a trip or anyting, but it's much better than one place I tried there (I have blocked out the name).

            For me the problem with Arthur Ave is transportation. I have to take a car but during shopping hours it's basically impossible to park so I have given up once or twice and gone to a different section of town.

            6 Replies
            1. re: JH Jill

              Yes, I would like to put in a good word for Pasquale's as well. It is what it is, a old-fashioned family style red sauce restaurant, sort of like a low-end version of Piccola Venetzia. It's the kind of place where younger waiters can take your order and bus the tables, but only the old guys can touch the food. For a large group, it is the place of choice in Arthur Ave. It's pretty hard to go with more than 6 -- or at most 8-- at Roberto's.

              1. re: bobjbkln

                PV is NOT exactly a family style red sauce restaurant...

                1. re: Astoria Lurker

                  Each to his own view of the world. It is very red sauce to me.

                  1. re: bobjbkln

                    Here is the menu for PV: http://www.piccola-venezia.com/Menu/P..., its about 95% Northern Italian with a couple "red sauce" type dishes thrown in (Chicken Parmesan, Shrimp Scampi are really the only ones I could find). Red Sauce to me implies Italian-American, and especially Southern Italian where tomato is the dominant flavor. PV is very different from this.

                    1. re: bobjbkln

                      piccola venezia hardly has any red sauce on their dishes, its is not common to their region of cuisine..so to call it red sauce joint is "naive" it is an aold world tyope of place definetly..but red sauce it is not..it is not a matter of "view" of the world..its a matter of getting correct or incorrect facts stated

                2. re: JH Jill

                  hmm, i haven't had serious problems with parking there but have had to park at meters or several blocks away a few times. from queens it's much easier -- it's 15 minutes from astoria as opposed to about an hour (M60 + metro north) and you can carry home what you wish.

                3. I've not had a problem with the subway/bus combo, but I could understand perhaps not wanting to do that at night. The Metro North to Fordham is also an option.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: lambretta76

                    It's doable by subway/bus I'm sure, but from Queens it would take the better part of a day, which I can't afford, and I would be more limited as to the things I could bring back, especially in the summer heat. For most of us, if we're going to make a special trip it would be at night. I try to explore on the way back from work trips and I usually have the car.

                    1. re: lambretta76

                      Yes, good point. Arthur Avenue is easily accessible by Metro North as well. Fordham station specifically. Exit the station and find you'll already be on Fordham Road. Proceed along the perimeter of the Fordham University campus, until you reach Arthur Avenue. Make a right onto Arthur Avenue and proceed to 187th Street. You're in the heart of Little Italy then. It's approximately a ten to twelve minute walk from the station.

                      To the OP, Arthur Avenue can be a great experience but everything has to align in your favor. Too bad you had to tolerate such awful music and mediocre food. Guess what? It probably won't be your last "bad" experience of dining-out I guarantee that, and don't be too quick to judge just based on one brief experience. Arthur Avenue has a lot of character, and what YOU encountered was its "character(s)" in the form of a sideshow. That's unfortunate. I'd encourage you to come back again sometime, but consult with some of us first. I'm sure the hounds will chime in with some better tips.

                    2. Thanks for your replies, one and all. To those who took me to task for not researching the boards here and making some better selections, I remind you that my wife and I had no choice in the matter. We were invited to the event I described at Pasquale's Rigoletto. This was my introductory experience to Arthur Avenue dining, which is one of the reasons I posted here. I wanted to hear from those with a lot more experience along Arthur Avenue.

                      I appreciate the suggestions of those who suggest we (my wife and I) return for a more typical visit, and we probably will. I'm experienced enough to know that you can't judge much by a single visit, but this was so over the top that I felt I had to post.

                      Re the transportation, we don't have a car and we live in Brooklyn, and the thought of a lengthy bus/subway trip late at night didn't appeal to us, thus the car services.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: BrookBoy

                        You did make it clear that it wasn't your choice and you never said Pasquale's was recommended on Chowhound, so I don't understand why you came under some abuse for your post, BrookBoy. Thanks for taking all the responses in good spirit. And some defenders of Pasquale's came out of hiding, too -- lots of good info on this thread.

                        1. re: BrookBoy

                          Not to be overly fuzzy, but the title of your thread generalized Arthur Avenue as a disappointment. As you've learned here, many on this board, myself included, have been to a few other restaurants in Arthur Avenue area to which we feel that Pasquale's Rigoletto is not on par with.

                          Perhaps, next time, you should be more specific with your title.

                        2. I havent eaten at the Arthur Ave places and look forward to trying several of them. However, from what I hear, I'm not sure that any of them are better than those you can find scattered throughout Brooklyn (Queen, Monte's on Carroll St., Tommasso's, Bamonte's...). From what I gather, it's the "Arthur Ave experience" that isnt equaled anywhere else &, since I recently have been there and shopped at the bakeries and salumerias, I readily agree. Now that Court St isnt really much of an Italian neighborhood anymore, only parts of Bensonhurst (and a little of Bay Ridge or Greenpoint) may have the atmosphere. But, without a car, for the dinner alone, I dont think there's a great need to go.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Steve R

                            I think some of the best affordable Italian food can be found up here.

                          2. Gee - After reading of your utter disgust with your experience at his wife's birthday celebration, all I can say is, I hope your friend doesn't read Chowhound.

                            1 Reply
                            1. We usually end up at Rigolett's (That's what we call it anyway) when told there is at least a two-hour wait for a table at Roberto's. As another poster said the veal scallopine and pasta dishes are pretty good as is the mozzarella en carrozza. They may not serve rigatoni with lamb ragout like Roberto's, but you can have a pleasant meal there.

                              Never once have I been exposed to any kind of entertainment there. That my dear friend was special for your party.

                              1. My husband and I ventured out to Arthur Ave. for the first time last weekend after moving to The Bronx about 2 months ago. Roberto's and Dominick's were both closed for vacation (coincidence?), so we opted to try Emilia's based on recommendation from Chowhound and our neighbors. I have to say I was pretty disappointed. For one thing, they didn't seem to have Pelegrino. Though it was nice to not have an $8 bottle of water pushed on us (and the guys with the ice water pitchers were obsessive about keeping our glasses full), it seems like they should have at least offered some kind of sparkling. They also brought foil-wrapped packets of butter with our bread (which was a really great crusty Italian loaf) instead of olive oil, though the tomatoes marinated in olive oil, garlic and herbs were a nice yummy touch and we dipped our bread in that. My husband and I both ordered specials. He said his chicken stuffed with shrimp was pretty good, but the manicotti I had was lackluster and reminded me of the quick pasta dinners I throw together after a long day at the office. The service was also disappointing. After we finished our meal, our server asked us if we would like to order coffee, with no mention of dessert. Since it was late and the place was emptying out, I figured they were just trying to clear tables, until I saw several other servers bringing out pieces of cheesecake and lemons filled with sorbet or ice cream. After bringing our espresso (which was pretty good) our server disappeared. We waited a good 20 minutes after finishing before we saw him and were able to flag him down to ask for our check. Guess they weren't in a rush to get us out of there. Overall the meal and experience was OK and certainly one of the cheaper meals I've had in NYC, but I had been told that Arthur Ave. was authentic Italian. I've been to Italy and what I had at Emilia's was more like a step up from the Olive Garden. My husband and I will be back to the neighborhood in hopes of trying Roberto's, Dominick's or Mario's, but I think in the future we'll avoid Emilia's.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: BronxBree

                                  It's authentic Italian-American, and it's the second part that makes the difference. I can't speak to that particular restaurant, never having been there. But the Arthur Ave. experience, along with many other such restaurants and markets in the greater NYC area, is much more about the food that came to the U.S. or was made here by Italian immigrants who arrived many decades ago (mostly from southern Italy) than it is about the food that's being made and served in Italy today.

                                  There is a lot of good (and not-so-good) Italian and Italian-American food served in NYC, but the two things are definitely not the same, at least not anymore.

                                  1. re: BronxBree

                                    "They also brought foil-wrapped packets of butter with our bread "

                                    Good! Where did this whole dip the bread in olive oil come from, anyway? Certainly not Italy.
                                    Unless I'm tasting the olive oil in contemplation of a purchase, I'd prefer good butter.
                                    If it's good bread, I'm happy to eat it unadorned with anything at all.

                                  2. I grew up in Pelham Parkway and consider Dominick's a second home. I moved to Brooklyn eight years ago, but my brothers and sister still live in the Bronx. We did a family meal in the winter at Dominick's and the specials that night were veal, veal and veal. You have to laugh when you know what fell off the truck that morning. And it was still one of the best veal parmesans I ever had. Sometimes the most simple is divine.

                                    1. After our bad experience at Emilia's, my husband and I found ourselves on Arthur Ave. a couple weeks ago, this time on a week night and with out of town visitors. Roberto's had a long wait, I was worried about doing the no menus thing with out-of-towners at Domicks and Mario's was closed, so for lack of a better option we ended up at Pasquale's Rigoletto, despite the fact I had read the above posts. Thankfully, there was no cheesy floor show and the food was actually really good. Our guests both ordered veal specials and thought they were great (though they're not from NYC, so I think they're a little less picky than most people around here). I had a pasta special that I thought was wonderful too. It was fresh riggatoni with a tomato cream sauce and sauted eggplant. It was exactly what I was in the mood for and only $15. On top of that, they brought us bruchetta with fresh tomatos and chunks of parmesean cheese and had a pretty decent wine list. It was definately Italian American, but everybody left very full and very happy. Also a note for those worried about hgetting to Arthur Ave. on public transportation, we took the #9 bus from 231st St. and Bway and got there and back without a problem.

                                      1. Stopped at Pasquale's after the zoo on a Sunday based on Zagat's recommendation (gasp!) Found the food solid, I had the pasta alla amatriciana. The red wines we tried were drinkable and fresh. Casual, reasonable, family kind of restaurant. Overheard mother and daughter swoon to a server how they were from Jersey and go out of their way to experience Pasquale's. Obviously not everyone's cup of tea, but some people do like it. Oh, no crooners in sight or ear shot. Hope your friend ended up enjoying her birthday!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: steeltowngrl

                                          I worked in the area for 18 years and Pasquale's was my favorite restaurant for quiet dining. I never saw a show or even heard of one there. As for the old post that began this thread, you can never judge a restaurant from a large catered occasion. There are just too many things that have to be made ahead of time.

                                          1. re: lucyis

                                            I went with 3 other people and thought the place is a big joke, Try Roberto's new place on Arthur Ave where the Mc donald's use to be. I think it's nove zero otto. You will thank me.

                                            1. re: joanied

                                              Just for clarification, the new place is "Trattoria Zero Otto Nove". Very good, too.

                                        2. It sounds to me like the 'show' replicated one of the middle circles of hell described by Dante.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: NYJewboy

                                            While you are all debating the merits of the old and newer spots along Arthur Ave., they all have something to say red sauce joints or not, just take a pilgrimage to the new Antonio's Trattoria on Belmont Ave. at 186th, right up the street from Roberto's..It's probably the best new reasonably priced Italian-American spot in the area and serves a varied menu from good crusty pizzas to short ribs and osso buco...I've tried it several times and always came away happy...

                                          2. I did not see anyone mention Mario's in here. My wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary there last weekend with 50 guests, and everyone loved the experience. The food was excellent, the service fine and helpful. Everyone who attended said the same. I love Arthur Avenue

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Maolchoin

                                              I think Mario's is great too. The eggplant parm is a favorite of lots of people in my family (no I haven't made it to Mike's Deli yet). Never had a bad pasta dish. Great service. Less stressful than Dominick's. Good portions for the money. I need to go back for the pizza. Heard its some of the best.

                                            2. Just in case you decide to try a restaurant without looking for a show too try around the corner, Antonio's Trattoria (Belmont Ave.) It is right near Roberto and is a great, low key, red sauce, brick oven pizza restaurant with a variety of pastas etc. We have been there several times and taken some critical Manhattanites who have loved every minute. Let Joseph make you a cocktail, relax, enjoy and MANGIA!

                                              1. We are looking to go to Zero Otto Nove this Saturday night, party of 7... with the wait be ridiculous?

                                                Also interested in Roberto's (how much could we expect to spend pp?), Emilia's, and open to other suggestions.

                                                1. Arthur Ave. is not about restaurants. Instead, it's all about food shopping and bringing home the right ingredients to make a beautiful meal. The feeling of tradition is palpable inside of the retail market where customers who have been shopping there for years are still being served by the same family members whose grandfather or great-grandfather founded the establishment. The people who came here from "the old country" have brought more than their dreams and aspirations. They've brought some of "the old country" to Arthur Ave. where it has been embedded and remains to this day. Some people just don't get the place but I feel fortunate to be among the many who find shopping there a priviledge and a joy.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: FrancescaP

                                                    I'm assuming you never ate at Roberto's or Zero Otto Novo (sic). I agreed about the food shopping experience and also agree with the original [posters review of Rigoletto's being an assualt to Itlaian cooking

                                                    1. re: joanied

                                                      > I'm assuming you never ate at Roberto's or Zero Otto Novo

                                                      She has been to the latter ... http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2495... ... http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5978...

                                                      -----
                                                      Zero Otto Nove
                                                      2357 Arthur Ave, Bronx, NY 10458

                                                      1. re: squid kun

                                                        Your assumption is incorrect. I have eaten at both Roberto's and Zero, Otto, Nove. I find them to be overly-hyped and just barely mediocre as far as the food is concerned. There's a very good restaurant just across the street from the retail market, Enzo's. It's a simple place but the food is excellent and you don't have to put up with the drama queen, Roberto, who is pazzo often times.

                                                      2. re: joanied

                                                        I agree re: Roberto's. Went to Roberto’s for lunch yesterday and thought it was fantastic. The portions are all big enough to order family style and the waiters actually encourage this and gladly take on the job of dividing up the dishes. Started with a couple of appetizers, the best of which was the broccoli rape, sausage and white beans. Had two pasta dishes, the best of which was radiatore with cherry tomatoes and pecorino served in aluminum foil (waiter’s recommendation) . Then had two chicken entrees, the best of which was chunks of chicken and sausage served in a balsamic reduction sauce. Very tasty dish and also a recommendation of our waiter. All in all a great meal and much better than others we’ve had on Arthur Avenue. We’ll definitely go back….

                                                    2. I grew up around the area, when I was younger it used to be more authentic where my parents knew everyone, from their friends shopping to the shop keepers, this was before all of the promotion and advertising which I'm not fond of, I argue with my parents when they have the sunday italian radio on. even that is all propaganda now where the old annoucer used to play music.

                                                      I get wholesale meat from Vincent's Meat Market for my brother's salumeria in upper westchester. Their meat is far superior to anything you find in supermarkets. their chicken cutlets are like filet mignon when compared to pathmark and all of the rest.

                                                      The Market is low class, I don't understand the cigar producing company thats in there, its not italian unless you consider Naples tobacco history. the kitchenware vendor when you walk in was a classic where my parents all got their sauce, cheese graters and pans from. I went there today and it was closed.

                                                      my parents used to goto pete's market but not anymore, Vincent's Meat Market has more selection. only place where I can get duck.

                                                      my parents always passed by Mike's Deli.. literally, just walked right through, I think what they did was a embarassedment. The announcer who just promotes the stores that I hate every sunday was on the microphone talking, I just had to get out of there.

                                                      my parents still goto the fruit vendor that is next to mike's deli, very courteous and will help you with anything. always get the imported artichokes, they are of superior quality (I'm Sicilian).

                                                      When I was younger there used to be a pastry stand near the seed vendor but that disappeared and its now empty. like I said, its a disappointment.

                                                      I went to zero otto nove twice, I had pizza one time and it was reconmmended but I'm a baker, the dough had no flavor, even though they try to impress you with the oven. 90% of bread starts with the dough itself. no oven will change it to a superior bread.

                                                      I love Addeo Bakers, I get their speciality breads for my store too. and fridays whenever I'm there I get a french bread even though they look like baguettes they aren't. I would love if they made prosciutto bread with lard yet they don't. It requires bacon fat but I'm not sure if people will pay for the higher price.

                                                      my parents always held the cheese store at the end of arthur avenue with respect so I must too, their fresh ricotta is very good.

                                                      The pastry shops in 187 are a sad case, none have a good reputation plus their cakes look like their from the 1970s and ..1980s..yuckk. I wonder why carlo's bakery cake boss has his own show..and he's from NJ!.

                                                      the only bakery I goto is Conti's Pastry Shop on morris park, I knew the original owner and his son. their selection has increased since the new owner took over a couple of years ago. it is a quality place. Enrico's was always the cheaper version who used whipped cream. I remember Mr.Conti always made fun of it, I recently heard Enrico's products were stale and old from family friends. I even remember Steve and Maria's bakery on williamsbridge and they are even my neighbors who always ask how my father's zucchini's are.

                                                      with all the pastry shops on Arthur Ave, I think they are just cashing in on the success and quality and nostaglia of the other stores on the strip.

                                                      I been to Full Moon Pizzeria, their slices were good when I was taken there by my father.

                                                      The Liquor and wine store near palombo's bakery (palombo.. another disappointment) had a vast selection of wines that other shops don't even bother, like hard to find upcoming sicilian labels and upscale french bottles.

                                                      I went there today, was asked if I ever been in the shop. I said no , the guy (who I assume is the owner) was stocking wines and he said the wines were categorized by region.. I pointed up and said I can see that and he then said "then you're ahead of 90% of the people who come in here".

                                                      it's a different place from where I was taken to when I was a kid on a saturday. I guess it's how parisians and romans are when they see tourists taking pictures of their city. I'm happy for the business owners who saw a upbeat in business with the promotion but from the deterioration of the market to the people taking pictures on the street and the radio guy it has its ups and downs.

                                                      I went there yesterday and one guy was on the phone saying "where can I get fresh motts?", I just wanted to say "Its Fresh Mozzarella, pronounce it right". I'm friends with the owner of casa della mozzarella and he can't stand it not being pronounce correctly.

                                                      my father buys chicken cutlets from Vincent's Meat Market, he also does his own dry sausage, capocallo and sopressatta all of which are exquisite. my father is a hard to please guy. when he said "he cut the chicken right infront of me", thats what differiates Vincent (the owner is named Pete) from the other shops, He respects you and wants you to know what you're getting and knows his stuff and is very courteous.

                                                      I went into Morrone Bakery today to speak to the owner, the girl on the counter said he went to lunch and will be back in 30 minutes.. I walked to the wine shop near palombo and bought a bottle, then I went to borgatti's to do some pasta research (my brother has a salumiera in northern westchester). 20 minutes must've passed because I went to visit the coffee store that my mother knows, the cheese store and the other store with the plates, coffee machines outside and went back to morrone.. the girl said "are you still looking for him? he's still at lunch" and started laughing.. I wanted to say "no I walked around the corner and forgot". but I remember what my mom used to tell me.. keep my mouth shut. I work in retail and this is not how you address someone. you're always courteous and even if they don't know what they want you give suggestions or let them taste..

                                                      we prob. must've went in there once but we get our ravioli's from Cassenelli in Queens. I also know the owner too, great guy with a no bs attitude. family works in his shop too, he mostly does wholesale accounts. love this guy!!!! doesn't answer the phone, just makes clients leave their order on the answering machine but if you have a question he'll call you 2 minutes later. had rafetto's but I think their ravioli is just name. Cassenelli is the way to go.

                                                      this is just my .02 from someone who grew up in the area.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: gio050

                                                        What a fabulous, and a little sad, post! On the prosciutto bread at Addeo: I had this bread in my freezer for five months before taking it out last week and heating it up for dinner. All I can say is that I will be back soon to try when it is fresh! Amazing.

                                                        Good tip on Vincent's. I also like Caladra Cheese--I think that is the one you mean at the south end of AA. Will use their smoked mozarella (most emphatically NOT "mozz!!" tonight).

                                                        I adore Borgatti.

                                                        1. re: erica

                                                          also try their focaccia bread, I think they only do it on thursdays through sunday but its not a every day item they make.

                                                        2. re: gio050

                                                          keep meaning to get to Casinelli's--they've got early hours so it's hard--was up at the Bronx Botanical gardens the other day--tried to get pizza at Full Moon and they were closed for renovation and expansion---anyone know about this? Missed their pizza---and Casa Della Mozzarella is fantastic--best mozzarella. And yes, the bakeries, a sorry lot sad to say. --except for the Cannoli's at Madonia--and the bread at Addeo.

                                                            1. re: intrepid

                                                              I second terranova bakery for bread. Cooked on premises in original coal fired ovens. I've been back there and there is nothing like it. The bread is used by many of the restaurants in the area and they have a lot to chose from.

                                                          1. re: gio050

                                                            Wow, Gio050 you reminded me of the old days on Arthur. I grew up there too. I can remember my mom buying snails from the fish market and then I would race them at home.
                                                            The tinker in the market was closed because he went out of business. He had a 50% off sign one day and he said he had enough. Its sad.
                                                            Umberto's Clam House will always be the chicken market to me. I smell it when I pass the restaurant.
                                                            I still go to Arthur for EVOO from Titel, bread from Terranova, Veggies from the 3 brothers in the market, pizza from the shop in the corner of the market, ravioli from Borgatti's, expresso from Marie's, mozzarella from casa and meats from Biancardi's ....but it's not the same as the old days when very shop was an italian treat. Good luck

                                                            1. re: gio050

                                                              Great post, Gio. Like Erica said, "fabulous, and a little sad." My friend Justin grew up in another of NYC's old Italian strongholds--Benson-Hurst, BK--and remarks on the significant price difference between Arthur and B-H.

                                                              Anyways, I'm a Fordham student and can see what you mean when you say the bakeries are flat out bad. Arthue Ave Bakery, for example, has horrible cookies, but the place next to Casa is excellent, in my opinion. Really good cheesecake, nice gelato and good cannolis. Anyone else been here? It's called Delillo.

                                                              Speaking of Casa, what mozzarella: the bocochinni is really good, as is the smoked.

                                                              I second Terra Nova. We like their sour dough.

                                                            2. Roberto's IMHO is fantastic and pricey but as other posters say, Arthur Ave. is not about a restaurant experience, it's about the markets--I go up there every 4-6 weeks from NJ mainly for the shopping and I live in a neighborhood where I hear Italian spoken everyday. It reminds me of the Bastille markets in Paris. Arthur Ave is a NYC success story--there seems to be a new store every time I visit--the latest is Cerini's excellent coffee place. I tried Zero Otto Nove and it was good but I was not knocked out like every time I've been to Roberto's. I'm actually going up there tomorrow with some food friends from south NJ--looking forward to it.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: chewer

                                                                Roberto's is a pretty good lunch destination, order from the board. It's always a good idea to have a cooler in the trunk so you can can buy stuff on the avenue and keep it fresh.

                                                                1. re: chewer

                                                                  Roberto's is excellent. When I was there, Mayor Bloomberg came in and I heard he is a regular. Can't say I blame him. Zero Otto Nove is also very nice but I've only been there for lunch. The no reservation policy is an issue but only for parties under 8.

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Zero Otto Nove
                                                                  2357 Arthur Ave, Bronx, NY 10458

                                                                2. HELP! Going to Roberto's tonight with four other people. Planning on arriving at 5:00. Will we get a seat? If the wait is just too ridiculous, where should we go for nice sit-down dining in Arthur Ave area?

                                                                  1. I read the review by BrookBoy and couldn't agree more. My wife and I don't go there to often, just a few times a year. Went there about 6 months ago and sat in the room with music. It's was just horrendous and I would rather put a screw driver in my ear than listen to that sound system. The food was good, but no better than any other good restaurants I've been to in NY or New Jersey. Well last week we went back and to my surprise, there was a gentleman playing the keyboard and singing. I don't know his name, but what a polished and professional voice he had. He had his own sound system and that was a relief too. We thought he was great, but here is the topper. A few of his friends came in and a young man, a tenor named Aaron Caruso (I asked for his card) sang. Just an unbelievable voice. He received several standing ovations. At the end of the evening he sang Nessun Dorma and as they say so often in the Bronx "Fugetaboutit" . Just a magnificent rendition of Pavarotti's signature song. Bravo!! What a great break from that annoying performance they call a show. Here is the bad news.. They were just filling in for the night. Oh well! And yes, can't judge Arthur Av by one restaurant. When there is no music there, it is enjoyable and the food is always consistent. I wish I knew when those guys are coming back.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Pasquale's Rigoletto
                                                                    2311 Arthur Ave, Bronx, NY 10458

                                                                    1. I've been to Arthur Ave. quite a few times, and I didn't get it fully until yesterday. Previously, I've gone to Tino's and Ann and Tony's, and breezed through the market. All of these places are wonderful, of course, but they weren't what I consider extraordinary.

                                                                      BUT! If you want to taste extraordinary, get some bocconcini at Casa del Mozzarella. Get the "egg noodles" at Borgatti's (where I come from, it's called tagliatelle fatta a mano). Haven't been to Roberto's or Dominick's yet, but I was genuinely delighted by Mario's, where I felt like I'd been transported back in time 50 years to a time when red sauce Italian was fresh and inspiring.

                                                                      Mostly, go to Cosenza's, my favorite place to slurp down a bivalve, and enjoy their raw bar oysters on the street.

                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                      1. re: trasteverina12

                                                                        Next time try Calandra, run by perhaps the kindest guy on the AA block, Diego, from Colombia. Be sure to stock up on his pecorino-rubbed Calabrian pecorino; it lasts week and weeks in the frig.

                                                                        Get a few hunks of Reggiano, and of mozzarella (not bocconcini; I believe this often comes from an outside purveyor, as iti does at other markets, but I could be mistaken) ), and whatever else he recommends, then stop in for a bag of vongole veraci and other goodness from the seafood specialist across the street....Randazzo. Cheaper than a flight to Lamezia Terme!

                                                                        The head north to Biancardi, for house-cured pancetta, and other fresh meats, then maybe to the Calabian pork store for sopresssta and other meats. For bfreads, Madonia, and then Borgatti, for fresh pasta and whatever good quality dried pastas and canned beans. etc they have on the shelf.

                                                                        Ask questions! Ask for cooking tips. Go at off-peak hours. Smile!

                                                                        We like the burek at Ann and Tony's on AA near Fordham.
                                                                        Nice people there, too; yogurt is liquidy enough to drink.

                                                                        1. re: erica

                                                                          Did Tony & Tina's become Ann & Tony's? More important: Are they still making the extraordinary pumpkin Bureks?

                                                                          1. re: Mike R.

                                                                            Tony and Tina's is a separate institution from Ann & Tony's, which is a sit down restaurant and the poster seems to have confused with the nearby T&T's. Happens all the time.

                                                                            They are still making burek there, but unless you're craving for the pumpkin variety I would suggest going down the street to Giovanni's. More flavorful, fresher fillings, better phyllo, no threat of microwave, and a wood-fired oven: http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/0...

                                                                            1. re: NewYorkNewHaven

                                                                              Many thanks for clearing the air on this...AND for the link about Giovanni's...gotta get there! I held T&T's as the gold standard for pumpkin burek, took it home and oven-reheated - never 'waved.

                                                                              Wow, talkin' about bureks harkens back to the first post I ever read on CH, about a little Albanian place on Church Avenue - authored by none other than the Original 'Hound, Jim Leff.

                                                                          2. re: erica

                                                                            I wrote, on error, about Ann and Tonys, and not Tony and Tina, just south of Fordham Road on AAvenue. In any case, will try to track down the burek at Giovannis, and report back. We also like Djerdan in Astoria, if anyone is hankering to roam further afield.

                                                                            1. re: erica

                                                                              I cannot disagree with any of the places you mention, except that I would get all cured meat at Calabria, then hit Biancardi for osso bucco, veal or lamb chops, etc. I also bought a whole, home made prociuto ham from Biancardi right before Thanksgiving. They do not sell sliced deli meat, but at $5.99 a lb for the whole ham, it was amazing and better than any domestic, on par with any imported at 3X the price.

                                                                              1. re: JoannaNYC

                                                                                Also, many of the stores mentioned are often good sources of dried artisanal pasta at prices well below those charged in Manhattan.

                                                                                We've mostly given up eating in the area, as we return home laden with so much stuff that I cannot wait to get to the stove.
                                                                                Always found Roberto's to be fairly consistent, but perhaps supffering from too much hype.

                                                                            2. re: trasteverina12

                                                                              Grabbed a quick half-dozen a week ago Friday at Cosenza's. Nice break in a day of running around on errands.

                                                                               
                                                                            3. FrancescaP

                                                                              I totally agree with you. I come from Brooklyn and have eaten at Zero Otto Nove and Roberto. I find the Italian restaurants in Brooklyn and Staten Island much better. I do not see the attraction.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: irvingk

                                                                                irvingk - wondering what places in brooklyn you recommend these days?