Alfresco Dining and History on Arthur Avenue

By Michelle Torres

Arthur Avenue will begin hosting Piazza Di Belmont, for al fresco dining on evenings and weekends starting Friday, May 6, 2022, until September 25, 2022.  During this time, Arthur Avenue will be closed for vehicular traffic from East 186 Street to Cresent Avenue, from 6 PM to 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 PM to 9 PM on Sundays. This event has proven popular and is returning for its third year.

This section of the Bronx, known as Little Italy, retains many of its early 20th century storefronts, and many shops are still family-owed and operated by third and fourth generations of the founding proprietors. The Belmont section of the Bronx is special not just for some of the finest dining in the borough but for the artisanal products that are still made here.  Among the products you can find amongst the finest pasta, at Borgatti’s Ravioli & Egg Noodle, there are also several bakeries turning out a plethora of fresh baked goods daily, and even handmade cigars.

Part of what makes the area so special is that it is a holdout, a seeming anomaly that defiantly holds onto its old-world charm because it is beloved by those who shop there. Many of the stores weathered store closures during the pandemic by maintaining a robust shipping business, sending their wares to loyal customers all over the country.  Some are customers who moved away and others began shopping because of the renowned shops.

On one day I visited I saw a large group of Italian tourists going from shop to shop as they listened to the guide and spoke amongst themselves in Italian. But the neighborhood also stands out for having a strong sense of community amongst shop owners, a customary work-together attitude that goes back over a hundred years. These days they collectively work to maintain their community through a savvy Business Improvement District organization. Piazza Di Belmont is a prime example of such undertakings.

I got the chance to speak to two shop owners, Gilbert Teitel of Teitel Brothers, a grocery store dating back to 1915, and Chris Borgatti of Borgatti’s Ravioli & Egg Noodle. Both these gentlemen tell us a lot about the history of their family enterprises and the values that helped them to thrive despite many wars, a depression, a recession, and a global pandemic.

Many shop owners will gladly chat with you if it’s not too busy. Many proudly display their history in store windows and share their stories on their websites.

After all we’ve been through, alfresco dining from Spring through September will be music to many ears, but don’t miss the opportunity to get a history lesson in and shop for some first-rate artisanal fare.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *