When I’m particularly frustrated at a person’s veneration of a celebrity, I often default to quoting a classic movie. Shout it when you know it:
“Mickey Mantle? Is that what you’re upset about? Mickey Mantle makes $100,000 a year. How much does your father make? You don’t know? Well, see if your father can’t pay the rent go ask Mickey Mantle and see what he tells you. Mickey Mantle don’t care about you, so why should you care about him? Nobody cares.”
If you guessed A Bronx Tale, you’re right.
Recently, my Italian teacher did a field trip to the Bronx. The trip was advertised as a food tour of sorts. We were told to bring a bag for shopping and that we would have a tasting of mozzarella, then a sandwich, and a slice of pizza.
I heard food and the Bronx and was sold.
What I failed to realize was that on our tour I would not only have the opportunity to purchase all kinds of incredible Italian delicacies, but that we would also stop at several of the iconic spots from the movie, something a trip to the Bronx would have been lacking had I chosen to initiate this trip on my own.*
*Spoiler alert: I’m already planning a return date with Hubby to scoop up lots of yummies I wasn’t able to manage carrying that day.
We started at the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, modeled after an open-air European market. One look at the fresh vegetables, the meat market, the imported Italian pastas and I knew I was unprepared for this trip. What I needed to have brought was a massive cooler which I could have strolled with along the streets adding ravioli, Porchetta, mozzarella, and fresh bread to at my leisure.
Our tour started with a surprise taste of mini cannoli which told me we were in good hands. We walked down to Addeo & Son’s Italian Bakery where we were advised to buy their fresh breadcrumbs and lard bread.*
*I made meatballs last week with my breadcrumbs. The smell of fresh bread in these pulverized crumbs has convinced me to use only the best breads for my bread crumbs from now on.
Not only were we in a bakery which made me envious that at home it’s at least a twenty-minute drive to a good bakery, but we were also standing at the location of the first scene, and many others, in A Bronx Tale.
From there, we took a short walk to Joe’s Italian Deli where they have been making fresh mozzarella for over 40 years. We learned about the importance of not overworking the mozzarella, and the difference could be tasted in their beautifully creamy mozzarella.
I bought two.
Teaching us a thing or two about making mozzarella
We stopped outside of Our Lady of Mount Caramel Church and just before that at the entrance to the apartment building Chazz Palminteri lived in when he wrote A Bronx Tale.
Then it was to Borgatti’s Ravioli & Egg Noodles. At this point, the tote bag I brought for food purchases was filled with bread, bread crumbs, and two mozzarella balls. Despite the incredibly low prices for ravioli*, I took a quick peek in Borgatti’s and decided to save this purchase for another time.
*100 little ravioli for $15! Fresh pasta cut right in front of you for $3-5 per pound. Believe me, I racked my brain considering the functionality of purchasing three or four boxes of ravioli and four or five pounds of pasta to carry around the Bronx with us for the rest of the day. In the end, again, I reasoned, Lance and I would just have to return.
A few doors down from Borgatti’s was Calogero’s stoop. And I may or may not have geeked out a little when we were introduced to it.
Knowing so many authentic, fair priced, Italian delicacies are set so close to one another made this trip worth it. Before returning to the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, we stopped at a Pasticceria and a pork store…
And I added another stop to my mental checklist of where to return.
We finished with a slice of pizza which, dare I say, was better than L&B Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn (but not better than Kate and Al’s pizza in Columbus) and an Italian hoagie on the best bread I’ve ever tasted. It wasn’t just fresh bread; it had that beautiful crisp outside with a soft center and a hint of salt that almost made me think I was eating a pretzel roll.
If, like me, you’ve been thinking to yourself, The Bronx? Is it really worth the trip?…I’ll say this: If you are a lover of good food made with the freshest most authentic ingredients possible or a movie buff who gets giddy over seeing real life places only viewed before on film, the answer is yes. An emphatic yes.