The Bronx is super diverse; among its many residents are Albanians, West Indians, and Puerto Ricans. Though its demographics have shifted over the years, the borough remains a hotbed of Italian food. Arthur Avenue—known to many as the “real” Little Italy—is home to many specialty stores and restaurants, as well as The Arthur Avenue Retail Market, an enclosed culinary oasis featuring fresh pasta, homemade sausages and cuts of meat of all kinds, extra-virgin olive oil, and various prepared foods. For a meal after picking up a few Italian provisions, these are the best Italian restaurants in The Bronx.
The menu leans heavily towards that nostalgic sort of red-sauce, Italian-American cooking that is again finding more and more respect, thanks to mouthwatering dishes like merluzzo marechiaro and veal scaloppini. The interior is lovely, which is particularly important since you’re in for a bit of a wait (everything is made fresh to order). But who would complain when fluffy knobs of potato gnocchi arrive tossed in basil pesto with Gorgonzola cheese and walnuts. Chicken scarpariello is perfectly caramelized, deeply flavored and bathed in a sinfully rich wine broth, fragrant with rosemary. US$25-49
Not to be confused with an unrelated spot on Arthur Avenue, this rather polished and airy restaurant has its own distinct personality. Enzo’s offers the kind of cooking that revolves around long-simmered meat sauces and myriad interpretations of house-made pasta. Yet the kitchen knows just how to break a few rules, as seen in the spicy and creamy penne alla vodka. Other highlights include perfectly cooked chicken scarpariello made with dark, juicy morsels of bone-in meat married with a bit of garlic, wine and excellent olive oil. US$25-50
Enzo’s of Williamsbridge. Photo @starvingactressnyc/Instagram
Much more than a neighborhood staple, Patricia’s is an elegant restaurant committed to the convivial spirit of Southern Italy. The brick oven churns out pleasing pizzas with lightly charred crusts, like the Regina simply adorned with buffalo mozzarella, torn basil and a drizzle of excellent olive oil. Spaghetti Frank Sinatra is a stain-making bowl of slippery pasta loaded with shrimp, clams, olives and capers in chunky tomato sauce. A light touch is seen in the grilled vegetables, topped with paper-thin cremini mushrooms. US$25-50
This space is as ideal for big groups as it is for romantic evenings. Inside, you’ll find a cozy, carved-wood bar and generously sized tables lit by candlelight. In addition to the regular menu (think wonderful, fun shapes of pasta al cartoccio as well as other classic entrées like grilled pork chop), it’s always worth a look at the chef’s delicious daily specials. Of course, save the best for last as evidenced by the sbriciolata crumb cake with amaretto, chunks of chocolate, ricotta and almonds. US$25-75
Thanks to exposed brick, whitewashed arches, bare wood tables and that fiery oven as a centerpiece, dining here feels like an instant trip to Salerno by way of the Bronx. The inviting spot also boasts warm service and is a regular stop for many, so you’ll be lucky to score a seat. They’re all here for the southern-leaning fare—ranging from unexpected pizzas (think butternut squash, mushrooms and truffle cream) to pastas like “al cartoccio” baked to perfection. Also indulge in such runaway hits as linguine with spicy nero di seppia; or ragù Salernitano—a hearty amalgam of pork and beef braciole. US$25-50
zero otto nove. Photo by Michelin North America
Hero image: Patricia's. Photo by Michelin North America
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