If you want to find the real Little Italy in New York City, head on up to Arthur Avenue in The Bronx. While Mulberry Street in Manahattan has some great restaurants, the San Gennaro Festival and a vibrant atmosphere, Arthur Ave. is where you go to shop for Italian specialties.
The stores within Arthur Avenue and 187th Street don't look like they've changed much in the last 50 or so years and almost all have the same family owners since the stores opened. The best way to experience the area is to start at one end of Arthur, say where it meets Crescent, and walk all the way to the end-it's only four blocks long. If you can get there by car it's best, because you will be leaving with bags of food.
My favorites stores on E 187th St are...
Casa di Mozzarella: 604 E 187th St.
the best and freshest mozzarella and ricotta chesses. You should eat the mozzarella the day you buy it and don't refrigerate it when you get home-just slap it on a plate and nibble on it with some fresh tomatoes and basil for a Caprese delight.
Borgatti's Pasta Shop: 632 187th St:
This is a must stop because they are doing one thing all day long-making fresh pasta which includes fettucini and spaghetti, but also their signature ravioli.
I like to pick up some great Italian Brunellos or Barolos at the Mt Carmel Wine & Spirits, located at 612 E 187th St. They are very reasonably priced and have a great selection of Italian wines. If you don't feel like carrying all those bottles around with you, they'll deliver for free to Manhattan, The Bronx and Lower Westchester.
Turning onto Arthur Ave, try....
Madonia Bakery: 2348 Arthur Ave.
or Addeo Bakery: 2372 Hughes Ave.
Go to either of these places for a fresh loaf of crusty round Italian bread or some fennel taralli that are fun to snack on while walk around. Addeo makes this great fresh pizza dough that you can take home and use to make your own pizza.
Teitel Brothers: 2372 Arthur Ave:
This is a great shop to pick up your staple dry goods like huge jugs of olive oil and balsamic vinegars. It's also a great place to stock up on olives.
Next stop is the indoor market, founded by Mayor Laguardia in 1940! There are a few places to shop for classic Italian things-when you first enter you are greeted with a group of people sitting at desks, hand rolling cigars. Over to the right is where you can pick up a real stove top espresso maker or other imported Italian trinkets. Walk down the aisle a little more and you'll find the meat counter which specializes in organ meats such as tripe and tongue. Next door is a great butcher for your more mainstream items like Italian sausage and chicken breasts. When you've finished shopping for these goods, you can pick up produce inside here and then stop for a slice of pizza or a giant sandwich at Mike's Deli. Go to www.arthuravenue.com for a complete tour of the indoor market.
Randazzo's Seafood : 2327 Arthur Ave
You can stand outside Randazzo's and eat freshly shucked raw clams or you can take home some fresh, cleaned squid to make calamari.
Arthur Ave is located within the Belmost area of The Bronx which is basically Fordham Road to Crescent Ave in between Southern Boulevard and Hoffman Street. The main street to find the shops is Arthur Ave, but there are a few sprinkled on E187th Street as well. You can get here easily by subway or car (there is a convenient parking lot right on Arthur Ave) and while you're at it, make a stop at The glorious Bronx Botanical Gardens and/or Bronx Zoo, which are both nearby.