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May 6, 2008 06:57 PM

Bronx Zoo, Arthur Avenue? Need info ASAP!!

Heading to the Bronx Zoo tommorow, wednesday, for a day of zoo fun, with almost 3 year old, and 3 adults...need good inexpensive food, nice atmosphere if we decide to sit down and eat, and most of all child friendly, as the little one will be tired for certain...Was thinking is it feasible to stop first at Mike's Deli in the Arthur Ave Market and get sandwiches to go, and then eat them at the zoo? Read through the previous posts about Arthur Avenue, and alot of info is on the outdated side--but would this seem a good list of places to go back and hit on the way home from the zoo:

Randazzo's for seafood
Madonia for fresh cannolis
Borgattis for fresh pasta
Egidio's or DeLillo's for pastry???

And whose got the best fresh Mozzarella in the area?

Also, is Dominick's a place you could bring a toddler to? How exactly does it work with no menus, and do you actually eat without knowing the price of what you're getting? And is it family style, meaning we would have to share the same dish? Thanks for the inside info--

I'm assuming we won't have time for a sit down dinner, but grab something to go to eat in the zoo, and then some good groceries, and perhaps a pastry somewhere late afternoon, for the ride home....

thanks for the suggestions...all these years in NY in Queens, and have never been to the Bronx Zoo or Arthur Avenue, so I'm counting on the Bronx experts out there to lead me to the best bets! Thank you!!

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  1. Janie, tomorrow the zoo has FREE admission [Wednesdays], so be prepared for Pope-like crowds especially with the weather being so nice.

    My suggestion, grab heros to go and eat them at the zoo. The zoo has a nice covered area with tables where you can eat. IIRC, you'll want to follow the signs for the 'Dancing Crane Cafe'. The tables I'm speaking about should be right near there. Look for the tent.

    Tino's on Arthur Avenue, adjacent to the park, has *hot* and cold heros. You can eat there if you wish. They have several tables -- perfect with a toddler in tow. If you want cold heros, go to Casa Della Mozzarella on 187th St or go to Mike's Deli in the retail market. These places ain't cheap, but they're reasonable.

    If you're done in the zoo by 3:30 or so, then go back to Arthur Ave for groceries. Most stores begin to wrap things up around 5-ish, so leave yourself enough time so you won't be overly rushed with your purchases, etc. I *always* emphasize that the zoo needs a day to itself. Arthur Avenue shouldn't be rushed either. I hope you enjoy both either way. Have fun.

    N.B. >> The pastry shops remain open later. Not to worry. They have ample seating.

    14 Replies
    1. re: Cheese Boy

      thank you cheeseboy, knew I could count on you! Will report back, if we survive our first zoo day with the boy!

      1. re: Cheese Boy

        area report---thanks for the info of where to sit at the zoo to eat, that helped us alot, to know right where to go. Beware the giant bees and birds that swoop and almost take your head off, and the occasional wandering peacock that shows up screeching its head off--but otherwise good benches and large tables and lots of shade. Picked up sandwiches from Cheeseboy's rec of Casa Della Mozzarella, super nice there, and really good creamy mozz--2 sandwiches with fresh mozz, sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers, and another with salami and peppers--on hero. Good size and inexpensive, and very tasty. Place is clean, too which I found to be lacking at some of the other places I checked out. Anway, good little spot, and not crowded like Mike's Deli or the place diagonal to it in the market. Checked them out, but too long of lines, although the sandwiches looked good, the sanitary situation did not however seem to good there, but if there were no lines, I would have tried them as well...anyway, was expecting a MUCH BIGGER place with more variety, but it just seemed so dingy, and everything was so cramped, albeit it authentic and intense in mood. Could do without the cigar smell in the front though, but it seems to be the last bastion of non political correctness, so it was refreshing in that sense.

        Anyway, headed over to Madonia to sample the "best cannoli", got 2 of them, nice lady, and yes, it was really really good--even if she wore no gloves and then took my dirty money with the same hand she filled my cannoli with....

        Next to Egidio's Bakery for a quick whipped cream choc eclair for my son, he liked it well enough, but upon my tasting it, the pastry part was very dry and hard--I asked the girl if it was supposed to be like that and she said yes, so it wasn't a matter of staleness even though to me it tasted stale. She also gave a small italian cookie to my son, and that was hard too. I just can't stand hard italian cookies, i like them soft and gooey---hate them cruncy--you know the ones with jams inside and colored, this place didn't thrill me, but they were real nice, though. Stuff looked good, but I question the freshness...

        Onto Delillo's, got a sfgotielle for a friend, and our babysitter got a choc mousse cake which looked good, with a ganche topping and choc layers and mousse in between, will wait to hear how it is....They weren't so nice there but their cakes looked good.

        As we were walking down the street, the food looked great at Umberto's--didn't have time to make it to Randazzo's although we did see the other place next to Umberto's and the oyster guy outside and thought that was cool.

        Walked into the fresh pasta place, but my husband decided to just get some pizza to go from Moon Pizzaria instead--it was good.

        It's a very interesting little area, will go back again, and investigate more. A weird aside--we discovered my son's bottle bag missing before we got back in the car and retraced our steps or so we thought, and felt like it had been stolen off the stroller because it was hanging on a hook and looks like a purse. So, he was without his vanilla soy milk which he is addicted to at 4pm. Felt kinda lousy that we had been ripped off by taking our eyes off the stroller-----and surprised, because frankly, most everyone one we encountered was SO FRIENDLY, and NICE.....but then when we got home late this evening there was a message from a fireman saying he found our bag and bottle and left it with Teitel bros--it must have got knocked off near there as my son was trying to grab the bottles on display in that area, and we got out of there fast...anyway, that restored my faith.

        So, all in all, I would'nt rush up there for any Italian specialty, but if you're in the area at the zoo or gardens or otherwise it's definitely worth a visit. I really feel like Sorriso's has superb mozzarella and prepared foods in Astoria, and I think the olive selecton at Iavorone in New Hyde Park (only), is superior to most--I also think that in terms of bakeries, Veniero's is still better overall, and how nice to have Lety's in Jackson Heights, now who bakes in the same style.

        Perhaps the seafood is worth the trip since I didn't get to sample that...the fresh pasta on 101st ave in Ozone Park is very good, and I love Rafetto's in the city....

        But, people are nice, and for some weird reason, I just felt like I was somewhere else, not NY...which is strange since it really was quintessentially NY....

        Gotta go back and try some of the restaurants, that will be the next plan...thanks for the help!

        1. re: janie

          Janie, overall it sounds like the experience was a good one and it certainly sounds as if you'll one day pay a return visit. Kudos to the FDNY to call in the bottle bag. That return visit might be sooner than you think. ; )

          Teitel Bros -->

          1. re: Cheese Boy

            The FDNY are the best, and they are just so super with little kids. My babysitter reported back that the Choch ganache mousse cake she got looked great, but had absolutely no taste, an utter disapointment. However the sfgotielle (no idea how to spell that), was greeted with a thumbs up. They were both from Delillo's bakery. And yes, it was a good experience, and yes, we've got to go back up and go get the bag, was thinking the botanical gardens, next!

          2. re: janie

            janie, you hit some good places, but missed some stellar ones too. next time, definitely go to borgatti's for their cheese ravioli. nothing. competes. i've loved rafetto's for years but borgatti's is better.

            morrone's and delillo's are both better than egidio's.

            the pizza dough at madonia is also great. that plus fresh mozz from casa della mozzarella = yum.

            the runny fresh ricotta at the calabria pork store. nothing more ethereal and sublime.

            1. re: rose water

              I love the pistachio biscotti at DeLillo's, and also the fresh pasta at Borgatti's - so reasonable and wonderful. I buy a lot of Italian ingredients at the place across the way from Mike's, as well as guanciale and cheeses from Mike's. BTW - Mike's "house brand" olive oils are terrific. And nothing like standing on the sidewalk outside Randazzo's eating some oysters and clams.

              1. re: MMRuth

                great to know about mike's olive oils. i always buy oil at teitel brothers, but have found their inattentive service more and more grating.

                and no, nothing beats oysters outside randazzo's.

              2. re: rose water

                zero notte greast pizza on arthur ave..acroos street from teitel brothers..calandra for ricotta cheese, mikes deli for olio, and parmesanao, terranova breads, carmel wines,

                1. re: intrepid

                  I'd forgotten about Carmel - excellent selection of Italian wines.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    also tinos has a good selection of pastas, and assorted groceries

                  2. re: intrepid

                    Terranova's good; we also like Addeo for regular and lard breads, and love the provolone bread at Madonia. Definitely Borgatti's large cheese ravioli (and fresh spaghetti); Biancardi's for meat (excellent veal, we just had their stuffed pork chops for dinner Friday - great, as usual); Calabria for sopressata; De Lillo for lobster tails and biscotti; and for something different, cheese borek from Tony & Tina's on 189th & Arthur.

                    1. re: Striver

                      Yes, yes, the bureks (though I prefer to have a meat and a cheese and to split with a companion), heated up in the oven (not the microwave, their default), with a cup of lovely tangy yogurt on the side.

                      1. re: rose water

                        Oh, definitely the oven! Didn't think of it because my usual thing is to buy a slice or two of the cheese borek to take home. I heat it up myself for breakfast (about 10-12 minutes in a 350 deg. oven crisps it nicely).

            2. My favorite: roberto's only draw back is no reservations taken so get thetre at 4 on the weekends or wait, once in you are not rushed. But I can say it is definetly worth the wait. An

              1. Mike's deli in the market has my favorite tasting smoked mozz and I like their fresh too. Borgattis is awsome ravioli and The randazzo brothers are friendly great service and fresh seafood.