Sunday, September 27, 2015

Guide to Off-Campus Italian Eating

As an incoming freshman, my biggest fear about going to college wasn’t about fitting in, or feeling homesick. It was about food. I come from a big Italian family, and naturally, everyone is an incredible chef. Everyone has their claim to fame, like my dad and his flavorful frutti di mare or my grandmother and her famous stuffed artichokes. Prior to moving to college, I had yet to go a day without indulging in a delicious home cooked meal. I was unsure how I was going to survive on dining hall food and those 89 cent microwavable cup of noodles. At first it was difficult, and I begged my parents to package and overnight Sunday dinners to me every week for the first half of freshman year. Eventually I adjusted to making the most out of the dining hall and on campus eateries; however, what really saved me from being homesick for my family's cooking was discovering what a beautiful thing it is to live adjacent to Little Italy of the Bronx. On Arthur Ave you can still stroll down the street and hear little old ladies gabbing in their native Italian tongue, and you can still order dishes that were prepared with an original family recipe that has passed through generations. From pizza joints, to bakeries, to restaurants that make you feel like you’re sitting in a piazza in Italy, Arthur Ave has it all. Here is a list of my 10 favorite stops:

1. Arthur Ave Retail Market- The Arthur Ave Retail Market is truly a force to be reckoned with. It is somewhat of an Italian bazaar, complete with vendors selling produce, meats, cheeses, imported italian products, baked goods, hand rolled cigars, flowers, sandwiches, pizza, etc. Even if you aren’t looking to buy anything, it’s worth strolling through to smell the smells, see the sights, and eavesdrop on conversations between employees and shoppers being shouted across the halls. Within the market you will find Greco’s (Mike’s Deli), Cafe al Mercato, the Bronx Beer Hall, and many other renowned stops. This is definitely a must see. 

2. Full Moon Pizzeria- Out of the million pizza places in the area, I have officially decided after three years that Full Moon ranks #1 in my heart and stomach. The slices are huge and the crust is thin and crispy. You can never go wrong with a plain cheese, but if you’re feeling adventurous try a slice of the buffalo chicken.

3. Tra di Noi- Tra di Noi might resemble an old person’s dining room, but it makes sense because the food tastes like all of the cutest little Italian grandmothers in the world are back in the kitchen preparing each dish with love. The red sauce is the best in the neighborhood, and the owners and staff treat you like family. Also, try the lasagna. You won’t be sorry.

4. Casa Della Mozzarella - While Casa is lined with imported oils, cookies, pastas, and other goods, the main attraction of this narrow little store is its famous (creamy, delectable, amazing, mouthwatering, etc) mozzarella. Try the bocconcini (little balls of mozzarella) or the made-to-order burrata, which is a big ball of mozzarella with a soft, creamy center. Cheese lovers rejoice.

5. Tino’s Delicatessen- Tino’s is the deli that sponsors a lot of Fordham events. They deliver yard long subs and pastas to campus, and to be honest, by the time you get to eat, usually everything's unfortunately pretty soggy or cold. I never thought twice about Tino’s until I actually went to the shop to grab a quick sandwich when my family was visiting. To my surprise, the La Nonna panini I got was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever tasted. After that moment, my perception of Tino’s changed from soggy food Fordham gets in bulk to the best sandwiches in town. They also have gelato and a great selection of imported Italian goods so you can do some shopping around while you wait for your food to be made!

6. Borgatti’s - This is your go-to stop for everything pasta. They sell ravioli, manicotti, and a million different flavors of noodles like spinach, mushroom, basil, carrot, egg, tomato, and squid ink. Everything is cut by hand right in front of you, and you even get to designate your desired noodle thickness. The pasta is also very reasonably priced which is great on a college budget!

7. Zero Otto Nove- Zero Otto Nove is the place to take your parents when they come for a visit. It’s definitely on the pricier side, but also 110% worth it. From amazing Neapolitan style pizzas to a wide array of pasta dishes (try the Mafalde e Ceci - pasta baked with chickpeas, crispy pancetta, pecorino, and bread crumb), you cannot go wrong. It’s really cool inside, and the service is extremely friendly. 

8. Madonia Bakery- Madonia smells like what I envision heaven to smell like. Go there for all of your gluten needs- breads, biscotti, etc. They're mostly known for their specialty loaves like olive bread, cranberry walnut bread, cheese and pepper bread, and my personal favorite, white chocolate bread. Also, a little known secret is that Madonia also has the best cannolis in town.

9. De Lillo Pastry Shop- De Lillo is by far the best place to grab a pastry and coffee in the area. They have an amazing cookie and pastry selection, and their iced cappuccinos are also amazing and a perfect pick-me-up for weekend studying. It’s a great spot to hang out with friends anytime of the day, and it’s also a nice place to sit by yourself and get some work done!

10. Michaelangelo’s- Michaelangelo’s is definitely the best place to go out to a nice dinner with friends. It’s a classy sit-down restaurant with great atmosphere, but it’s also a slightly cheaper option for all of us on a college budget. The Pear Salad or the Chicken a la Michaelangelo’s are two of my favorites.

Happy eating, Rams!