Spending A Perfect Sunday On Arthur Avenue

I recently decided to create the perfect Sunday afternoon by visiting a few Bronx Little Italy establishments–all within a two minute walk from each other on the legendary Arthur Avenue! Each has something different to offer but all have one thing in common–they serve authentic Southern Italian food items! My secret is to take things from local stores and bakeries to go and eat them on a bench is the nearby playground. Arthur Avenue is one of those places that lives up to its legend. The businesses are all family run (in some cases for five generations) and everything you buy is consistent in quality. You can count on meeting some of New York’s friendliest business owners when you go to Arthur Avenue–they are always super helpful! Just for the record, there is an official site just called www.bronxlittleitaly.com that can be helpful when planning your trip to this magical neighborhood.

Ivana’s Pizzeria & Restaurant has been family-owned and operated since 1977. Antonio Ferri is the owner and his two sons, Frank and Corrardo, are the managers. Ivana’s crafts their pies with love–they utilize family recipes that haven’t been changed for over 40 years. The family is joyous and humbled that customers come from all over the world to enjoy their large, hot, cheesy, crunchy slices and other hot foods. They are proud members of the Bronx Little Italy community and hope to take part in sharing the love this Valentine’s Day with their authentic pizzas. Check out the heart-shaped pizza in the photo above–it’s very large and only $20 without topping. This can win the heart of anyone in my opinion! IMPORTANT NOTE: Ivana’s is open every day but SUNDAY and is worth a special trip to Arthur Avenue (it’s only a 15 minute walk from the Metro North’s Fordham Road stop)! Learn more about them at www.Yelp.com/biz/Ivana-pizzeria-Bronx.

If you want an authentic Southern Italian lunch or dinner, I cannot think of a better place than the airy and spacious Pasquale’s Rigoletto. Their eggplant parmigiana with homemade marinara covered spaghetti, salad with vinaigrette and nice crusty Italian bread is my idea of a perfect lunch. This restaurant is a neighborhood staple that has been in the neighborhood for 35 years and is a top spot for Yankees fans to come after a game. Stop and notice the cute large murals on the walls featuring local streets and people from the neighborhood as well as the fabulous back room that is used for private events. Portions are generous here and many people split dishes for lunch or dinner. Pasquale’s Rigoletto has amazing homemade soups that are perfect to have on a cold winter’s day as well as a unique dessert menu that includes five or six different types of tartufo. For more info on this friendly neighborhood establishment with highly reasonable prices, go to www.pasqualesrigoletto.com.

A newcomer to the neighborhood, Pace’s Italian Market, is a true cheese heaven that blew me away the minute I set foot inside. There are dozens of cheeses to choose from including classics like homemade Buffalo mozzarella and ricotta–but go out of your comfort zone and take advantage of their generous sampling setup on their countertops. Rumor has it that some people spend hours in Pace’s sampling the goods, and anyone working here including owner Angelo Pace is happy to make recommendations. This place has cheeses not sold anywhere else so if you are a real cheese adventurer, let someone behind the counter pick out a surprise for you. The end of the counter close to the cash register has a huge olive and antipasto bar where you can mix and match. I can’t think of a better way to have a quick and custom lunch “plate” put together. I admire the fact that Pace opened his store last November right in the middle of the pandemic and has quickly gathered hundreds of regular followers. Any cheese lover must put Pace’s on their bucket list as this place does not disappoint! I bet you could go in there every few days and find new products added to the inventory. They do have some great pasta, boxed Italian specialty items and sauces to go although their focal point is obviously cheese. All the large whole cheeses hanging from the ceiling look lovely and quaint–plus gives an authentic atmosphere. For more info, go to their Instagram page, www.Instagram.com/pacesitalianmarket!

Morrone’s Pastry Shop & Cafe is a place that pastry lovers could only imagine in their wildest dreams–and you can take your pastries to go or sit at a table and have some remarkable cappuccino or espresso to go with your sweets! I love this place not only because of the huge array of pastries that include the Italian classics like St. Joseph’s Day “zeppole” and three types of Napoleons (my very favorites), but American classics like colorful cupcakes and party cakes in fun shapes (there are even these adorable mini cakes designed to look like hamburgers that caught my eye). The Morrone family is super helpful and knowledgeable on their products so if you have a desire for something unusual, they probably can tell you which of their products that you will enjoy the most. I am going to make a confession right here and now that their St. Joseph’s Day pastries are what I ate for dinner last Sunday and breakfast last Monday. I plan to try their cheesecake next as it has so many great reviews online. For more info, go to their site: www.morronepastry.com.

Madonia Brothers Bakery is over 100 years old and into its fourth generation of family members running it and is truly the go-to place for many NYC restaurants to get their bread. I know people who drive forty miles to get their bread here every weekend. They not only excel at bread but the have dozens of types of homemade cookies including the legendary rainbow and S cookies with sesame seeds. The staff is lovely and accommodating. Two secrets I have to relate about Madonia Brothers Bakery is that the big steal is their homemade pizza dough that you can buy straight out of their refrigerator for only $2 and that their cannoli cream is made fresh everyday and loaded into each cannoli shell immediately before you buy it, make them exceptional. Be sure to buy extra cannolis to eat on the train or in the car on your way back home because you will be obsessing about them from the minute that they first catch your eye in the store. For more info, go to www.madoniaarthuravenue.com.