Arthur Avenue in the Bronx

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.

Cafe Al Mercato in the Retail Market

Arthur Avenue Retail Market

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.

Giovanni's

Ann & Tony's

BiscottiArthur 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.

{GO!} Christmas in NYC: Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx

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The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx is the perfect Christmas activity for everyone - for kids who will love the model trains zipping around and adults that will appreciate the replicas of NYC landmarks.

Here's the kicker: the replicas are entirely made of plant items like bark, leaves, pine cones, and nuts.

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The show takes place in the garden's beautiful Haupt Conservatory, a Victorian glasshouse, and runs through January 16, 2012, so if you have a chance, get yourself to the Bronx to see it before it closes for the year.

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I loved the replicas of famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Brooklyn Bridge but was especially intrigued by stunning structures that have been torn down, like the old Penn Station and glorious old Fifth Avenue mansions and townhouses.  I've studied a lot about the (awful! criminal!) decision to tear down Penn Station and the preservation laws that came out of the rubble in the 1960s.

Other favorites included Yankee Stadium and Washington Square Park. Don't miss this show!

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