Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is New York's "real" Little Italy. I do enjoy Manhattan's tourist-infested Little Italy but I love coming here (also known as Belmont), where people drink cawfee and tawk like real old-school New Yawk'is. I usually combine Arthur Avenue whenever I visit the New York Botanical Garden. Arthur Avenue is about a 20-25 minute walk from the nearest subway, so it's not easy to get to. Have a Bronx car service number on hand just in case.
Start at the Arthur Avenue Retail Market (2330 Arthur Avenue), a true Italian food lovers' paradise and a great lunch stop--there's bread, pasta, fish, fruit, sandwiches (one of the best sandwiches I've had in NYC was at Cafe al Mercato in the market), coffee, meats, cheese, and more. Take note of the characters behind the counter-guaranteed to be jovial and real Italian New Yorkers.
Other famous restaurants include Giovanni's, Mario's, and Ann & Tony's. There are Italian bakeries lining the street, where you can pick up biscotti or a cannoli.
Arthur Avenue has Hollywood heritage too--Joe Pesci was running a restaurant here when DeNiro and Scorcese cast him in Raging Bull. Frank Sinatra was a regular visitor. And Mario Batali is a huge fan of Arthur Avenue. In this video about his favorite New York spots, he says "For the Italians looking for a more Italian experience, Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is one of the most spectacular places. One of my favorite restaurants is a place called Mario's, just simple, southern Italian done as someone has done it for 80, 90 years.