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Jason Perlow

Arthur Avenue Retail Market

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Today, a group of us travelled to the Bronx to check out the insanity of Arthur Avenue on Good Friday, as many Italian-American families do their shopping for the Easter feast this weekend. As many of you in the New York area might know, and those of you in other parts of the country may have heard, Arthur Avenue is often referred to as "The Real Little Italy".

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A view down Arthur Avenue

The totality of this trip will be covered in different posts, this one will cover the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, including Mike's Deli, Peter's Meats and several of the other included businesses in that property.

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the Good Friday crowd at the Arthur Avenue Retail Market

Mike's Deli has been largely the same since at least 1951. Its filled to the rafters with various types of salumi, cheeses and other Italian delicacies, many kinds of which cannot be found in other parts of the country or even other parts of the New York metro area.

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Lots of meat!

The current boss is Mike's oldest son, Dave Greco. Dave is the ultimate deli man and knows how to treat his customers right. Wanna taste something? No problem.

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How about some Prosciutto?

While Mike's Deli is undeniably the best place to get salumi and Italian cheeses in NYC, a very underrated aspect of the operation are their array of Italian sandwiches.

I walked up and asked Dave "What's the best Italian Sandwich you have?" He gave me a look, which at the time I thought was smug, but later found out was quite justified. "Oh, you want the Yankee Stadium."

I submit for your approval, the crowning achievement of 2000 years of Italian sandwich evolution, the Yankee Stadium.

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Looks pretty simple, no? I mean, according to the description on the catering menu, its mortadella, ham, salami, cappicola, provolone, fresh mozzarella, lettuce, basil and sweet and hot peppers "Morante style". However, in this case, the sandwich really is more than the sum of its parts. The quality of the ingredients are, without exaggeration, astronomical. The bread is a snapshot of a moment in time, as it was baked that morning but was cooled sufficiently for a cold cut sandwich. The cold cuts are without a doubt his top shelf stuff, the lettuce and basil is perfect and the mozzarella could not be fresher. The peppers, which seem slightly pickled, give the sandwich a slighty acidic snap and cut through the fat of the salumi and cheese. To put things in perspective, the Yankee Stadium, at $7.50 for a hero, is the same price as the "Dry Filet Mignon Bracciole" sandwich. It could be the most expensive Italian sub you've ever had, but it's well worth it.

**I'll note that while my allergy to dairy is quite severe, I didn't even blink about the prospect of having a huge heap of mozzarella on top of this thing.

Rachel had a mozzarella sandwich on some kind of flatbread:

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Next door to Mike's is another adventurous destination which you could only find on Arthur Avenue -- Peter's Meat Market.

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Peter's: The Meating Place.

You can get your meat at Pete's in a number of forms:

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Sausage!!!

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On the hoof...

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Or totally Offal.

But the Retail Market isn't all about meat. Its also about crazy guys selling produce.

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You may not be able to tell, but this guy is crazy. Currently he is standing still--a rare occurance--only because he's singing along to a Lionel Ritchie song..

In addition to the businesses we've shown, there's a bakery, a cigar store with freshly rolled stogies, a housewares and kitchen appliance/gadgets store, several produce areas, and a pizzeria.

By the way, if you really ARE in the market for offal, here's what's avaliable:

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Spleens anyone? Mmmmmmm yummy.


Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

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Stand in front of Mike's, turn around, and you will be in front of the best selection of Italian olives I've ever found, including big "Greek" olives, cerignolas, and the amazing, hard-to-find, mild, buttery (really), green castaveltrano. I've been known to make a special trip to Arthur Ave. just for those!

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Jason,

Wonderful post with fabulous pictures. I love the retail market on Arthur Ave. It is probably the single best place to get Italian products in the USA, however, it has its idiosyncracies. One of your pictures of Pete's Meat Market showed the sausages called Chevrilade. If I am not mistaken, the Chevrilade on Arthur Ave. is made from lamb. There are usually a number of different types of chevrilade, the most popular of which contains cheese and parsley. Their chevrilade is tasty, but IMO is no match for the chevrilade from Brooklyn made from pork. The most notable producer that I know is Esposito's Pork store on Court St. They also make great fresh mozzarella and braciole. While I don't know for sure, I would guess by the word chevri-lade, that the true origens of this sausage may be from goat. Anybody know for sure?

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By the way, Chevrilades usually come with wooden sticks impaling them to keep them together. The sausage is awesome grilled - true comfort food for an Italian-American from NYC :biggrin: .

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Stand in front of Mike's, turn around, and you will be in front of the best selection of Italian olives I've ever found, including big "Greek" olives, cerignolas, and the amazing, hard-to-find, mild, buttery (really), green castaveltrano. I've been known to make a special trip to Arthur Ave. just for those!

You are of course, referring to these:

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Yes, I agree, its an impressive display.

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Great stuff! This type of visual report is much appreciated!

Currently he is standing still--a rare occurance--only because he's singing along to a Lionel Ritchie song..

Yer damn straight, Lionel can calm anything down. :smile:

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Great pictures; what about parking though?  :unsure:

There are several municipal parking lots in the area and two of the more popular restaurants, Pasquale's Rigoletto and Mario's, have their own lots nearby. Being that today was good friday, all of the municipals were packed and we had to search around for parking quite a bit. We ended up parking in Mario's lot, and got charged $10 for parking because we didnt get stamped by Mario's as we didn't eat there today.

At the Municipal lots, there is usually a guy there looking over the meters and cars. Be sure to tip him nicely, as while the Arthur Avenue neighborhood is perhaps one of the safest neighborhoods in NYC, it is still Da Bronx. I usually hand someone a $5 bill and say "Have a nice evening" and give them a wink.

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The Bronx Zoo is right around the corner and makes a great side trip when going to Arthur Ave.

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PARKING?!?!? Shit, who cares? Which zoo stop is it closest to, and how many flights of steps will I have to drag my shopping cart up???

Thanks for a truly droolingly wonderful set of pictures.

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Absolutely great pictures. Thanks.

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Besides the retail market, there are several other stores adjoining the complex that are quite interesting:

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This is Biancardi's, just up the block:

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and the fishmonger about two doors down from the market:

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and up the block across the street from Pasquale's, Calandra's, which is a superb cheese specialist.

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On nearby 187th street, is the famous Borgatti's pasta shop, which makes all kinds of fresh pastas.

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Here's one of their pasta machines in action, i think this one spins out egg noodles.

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I find their pasta to be a religious experience:

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And if praying to the tagliatelle doesnt strike your fancy, theres always this place right next door:

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Awesome! All that's missing is the scratch and sniff component.

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Is that a real lamb and pig suspended from the ceiling? Freaky!

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Is that a real lamb and pig suspended from the ceiling?  Freaky!

Yes, its real. They had bunnies like that too.

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How does one attach photos. These are awesome. It really captures the flavor of Arthur Avenue. This is probably the market in the US most like in Italy, although it is not quite the Vucciria :smile: .

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the picture of the Yankee Stadium has almost brought tears to my eyes. putting aside the brilliant quality of the photo, the sandwich is a work of art. the colors, the textures, i want to eat my fucking screen. is it ok to say that? "eat my fucking screen" i mean? because i do. want to that is.

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the picture of the Yankee Stadium has almost brought tears to my eyes. putting aside the brilliant quality of the photo, the sandwich is a work of art. the colors, the textures, i want to eat my fucking screen. is it ok to say that? "eat my fucking screen" i mean? because i do. want to that is.

:laugh::laugh:

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Jason, you had some other pictures of "the Great Sandwich", didn't you? You should post 'em. (I tagged along on this expedition today, and played a nice round of "guess the Lionel Ritchie song" with that crazy vegetable guy. I lost, of course.)

Isn't that lil' dead lambie cute? (yes, I know some vegan is currently wishing me to hell for saying that) :wink: The dead deer at the end of that case was cute too, but neither Jason nor I could get a good shot because of the glare on the window.

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The picture of the mutton and swine is 'nuff to turn me into a vegetarian. Somebody pass me a boca burger!


Edited by DavidJS (log)

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Thanks for posting this, those salami/sausage photos are just amazing. I really enjoyed your pictorial.

One day soon, I'd like to make a pilgrimage up to Hunt's Point in the Bronx to see all the produce stands etc., where so many restaurants in NYC get their food. Learned about this from the owner of the diner across the street. He says one has to go in the wee hours of the AM to really see the action.

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Jason, thank you so much for the incredible pics of Arthur Ave!

Last time I was in N.Y. I took the subway up and spent the entire day on the street eating and shopping. You took pics of every place I visited -including the Catholic supply shop, where I bought some fantastic painted prayer cards.

The produce guy singing Lionel Ritchie had some facial hair when I last saw him, and he had a bunch of his friends hanging out with him who all looked like Howard Sterns' uglier brothers sitting around bullshitting on folding chairs. Two other places of note in the same building as Mike's are a housewares supply where I bought a real proper pan for baking cassatas, and a greensman who sells not only plants but seeds direct from Italy. I bought rapini, raddichio and cavolo nero seeds which are currently growing in my yard.

Also, David Grecos mother Antoinette has a great little coffee/sandwich shop right across the street from the deli, but the name escapes me at the moment. I spent a couple of hours hanging out with her drinking coffee and eating this ricotta/lemon cake she'd made. I gave her my business card, and now I get people who visit me in L.A. telling me Antoinette sent them and she says hi. I love Arthur Ave.!

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How does one attach photos. These are awesome. It really captures the flavor of Arthur Avenue. This is probably the market in the US most like in Italy, although it is not quite the Vucciria :smile: .

The Vucciria has an entirely different feel than Arthur Ave. Walking down those decrepit steps into an open air market encased in red and orange awnings is another world indeed. The stalls pictured here are most similar, but Arthur Ave. dosen't have whole gutted sword fish on display, and guys with pans of hot lard frying up spleen for sandwiches on the back of a Vespa cart! :biggrin:

I just wish I had something even remotely like either of these fantastic places here in L.A.

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