New York City comprises five boroughs – Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx. The Bronx has the highest crimes rates of the five, the highest levels of obesity, and Bronx residents are the least likely to go to college. Every time I watch NY1 news when I’m at the gym, something nasty will have happened in the Bronx. No wonder that I couldn’t really see the point of visiting. However, New York University is running half-day courses each Friday in April, and I signed up for them. Last Friday was called Arthur Avenue’s Little Italy and so I took the D train north to the meeting place in the Arthur Avenue Market.
Leaving the subway, I was surprised to see how low the buildings were and how blue the sky was (it seems ages since we really had sunshine). I wasn’t surprised that I was the only Caucasian face, at least till my Danish friend, Anne, arrived. We walked to the market and met the other four students and leader, Liz, inside at Mike’s Deli. We were slightly late and were told to order food. We opted for the antipasto to share, thinking that it would be a relatively light, protein-heavy option.
Medium Antipasto, Mike’s Deli, Arthur Avenue Market, Belmont, Bronx
Clearly we forgot which country we were in because this certainly wasn’t a light option! This area of the Bronx was initially settled by Italians, and although many have moved house, there are still many Italian businesses, still run by the grandchildren of the founders. Andrew, I tasted the best American mozzarella I have ever tasted. The olives were in large tubs. The vegetables were lovely and fresh. Seafood so much cheaper than in Chelsea. We watched people from the Dominican Republic rolling cigars. If we ever cook roast lamb here, I will go to the butcher in the market for my meat. And there’s a beer hall – too bad it was too early in the morning – though I do have a 2 for 1 beer voucher and maybe I’ll bring Dad up, and he too can put his feet in the Bronx!
And just as an aside, the 60s band, Dion and the Belmonts (Runaround Sue and Teenager in Love amongst others) came from this area – hence the name!