I am going up to Riverdale for an appointment next week and I figured I would swing by Arthur Avenue while I am up there, however, I have only had dissappointing meals there so far - I think I may have only been to the big touristy type places. Are there any small intimate italian places without murals on the wall and gold accents everywhere? I love traditional home cooked Italian food (not the typical italian american food). Are there any places like that in the area?
Giovanni's, 2343 Arthur Ave: regular pizza in the front. go to the back for out of this world brick oven traditional pizza (i like the margherita, with garlic on top). i always go for the pies, but i hear they also have nice chicken and pasta dishes too.
also, my dad has been going to Dominick's for FOREVER and swears by it. There is no set menu so you can order your favorite dish, and they will probably make it for you!
Roberto's on Crescent Ave a little pricey for the neighborhood but great food and wine list. Also Enzo's on Arthur, I think they're the best two but I do love Dominick’s for it's non-atmosphere and family style.
Roberto's. Last weekend, we had a terrific dinner which included rigatoni ((house made) with boar ragu, almonds, and fresh porcini, shrimp and scallops baked with cauliflower and bread crumbs, and a spicy chicken on the bone with onions, capers, cherry peppers, and black olives. The ambience is rustic, and pleasant. If you're thinking about Friday or Saturday night, get there early or be prepared to wait (no reservations). It's not inexpensive, but it's the best in the area.
Dominick's is pretty purely Italian-American served family style - not quite intimate -and note that no set menu means no set price. Enzo's is also basically Italian-American; between Enzo's and Dominick's, I prefer Enzo's.
Considering your specifications I would head directly to Roberto's. I suggest you stick with the blackboard specials, especially the pasta dishes.