Where to shop like a longtime Little Italy local
Start out with some produce at the Arthur Avenue Retail Market. The tomatoes are flush red and the basil’s fragrant -- both are worth carrying back home with you. If you’d like to do as much shopping as you can under one roof, stop at Peter’s Meat Market (Arthur Avenue’s “Favorite ‘Meating’ Place,” according to the signage) and choose your cut. The braciole and spirals of sausage are especially appetizing, even uncooked. For a quick breather, post up at the Bronx Beer Hall, located in the middle of the Market, and sip on some craft beer from New York State.
Stock up on authentic pasta at Borgatti’s Ravioli & Egg Noodles, over on East 187th Street, between Hughes and Belmont avenues. Joan Borgatti, 55, owns and operates the business with her husband Chris, whose grandparents originally opened the shop more than 80 years ago.
“In 1935, 100 ravioli were $1 a box -- now, they’re $14.75,” Joan says after catching up with a regular. “Not bad.” Borgatti’s ravioli is made fresh every day, comes in different sizes (small and large), and is available in a number of styles, including pumpkin and ricotta, spinach and ricotta, and meat and spinach. Joan, who’s worked at the store for 29 years, suggests that you start simple, with the large cheese. The ravioli’s impossibly soft and the filling’s creamy; she describes it with one word: “Classic.”
Walking back up 187th toward Arthur, pop into Casa Della Mozzarella for -- how’d you guess? -- some of the freshest mozzarella available in NYC. Just make sure you’re traveling light: Space on the customer side of the counter is so limited that you might have to shimmy to get to the cashier. Those more partial to Parmigiano-Reggiano should visit Teitel Brothers, a grocery store on Arthur Avenue that’s been in the neighborhood (and the same family) for 105 years. Their servings of the aged cheese are about as sharp as the blade used to shave ‘em off. While there, you’ll have your pick of different olive oils (filtered and unfiltered), and plenty of other packaged goods, stacked practically to the ceiling.
Half a block down from Teitel, treat yourself to some quick oysters and clams -- they serve them on the sidewalk outside Cosenza’s Fish Market, another neighborhood fixture that’s been around for just over a century. Once you’re done slurping, head inside to net some heartier seafood. Fresh squid and octopus, imported dorado, sardines, and branzino -- it’s all waiting on ice.