Editor's note: Head on over to the Arthur Avenue Retail Market in Belmont's "Little Italy," this afternoon, from 4 to 7 p.m., for the market's celebration of Bronx Week. Tour the space, meet the vendors, and enjoy free samples and cooking demos. Remember, Bronx Week will run through this Sunday, May 22. For a full calendar of events, visit www.ilovethebronx.com. For those and other Bronx happenings, check out the BxNN community calendar here.
The story below was originally published in this month's issue of the Tremont Tribune, out now.
Arthur Avenue Market Gets a Makeover
By Fausto Giovanny Pinto
|The Arthur Avenue Retail Market is undergoing major renovations this year, including a new exterior facade. (Photo by F.G. Pinto)|
In 1940, then-Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia opened indoor markets throughout New York City, a move to get pushcarts off the streets to make room for the increasingly popular automobile.
Among them was the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, an indoor bazaar of vendors hawking foods and goods in the heart of Belmont’s “Little Italy,” on Arthur Avenue between Crescent Avenue and East 187th Street.
Now in existence for over 70 years, the market is undergoing an estimated $1 million renovation this year, thanks to a grant from the city’s Economic Development Corporation with help from Councilman Joel Rivera and Congressman Jose Serrano.
The market’s new modern-looking exterior was unveiled last month and a new service elevator and tiling are also in store.
According to Michael Rella, the market’s association president, the improvements give the site a facelift while maintaining that old-time atmosphere so many enjoy.
Below is a look at the vendors inside.
Peter’s Meat Market
This butcher shop in the market has been in business for over 40 years, and makes nine different kinds of sausage every morning. They also offer prepared, ready-for-the-oven items like stuffed pork chops, meatballs and veal scaloppini.
|Peter Servedio and Mike Rella own Peter's, the market's premiere butcher's shop. (Photo by F.G. Pinto)|
During his travels to Cuba, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic, store manager Paul DiSilvio learned how quality cigars were made. Seeing a need for handmade cigars in the Bronx, he opened this shop 14 years ago. Since then, six other cigar shops have popped up around Arthur Avenue, all by former employees of DiSilvio. The shop is also home to an Al Capone statue, popular among visitors.
Arthur Avenue Market Pasticceria
One of the market’s newest members, the pasticceria opened a year ago, satisfying the sweet tooth of patrons. It serves gelato, espresso, and authentic Italian pastries like cannolis and cookies. The shop recently raised $2,725 for Montefiore’s Children’s Hospital by selling red velvet cupcakes during a fundraising drive.
One of the 117 original vendors from when the market opened in 1940. Liberatore’s sells specialty seeds all the way from Italy, including basil, arugula and olives. Chefs from all over the city come here looking for fresh, hard-to-find spices such as bay leaf trees.
Mount Carmel Food Shop
Your one-stop food mart for all things imported from Italy. Mount Carmel stocks a vast selection of pastas, cheeses and spices. The shop also carries a wide range of olive oils from different regions in Italy, including some made from truffles.
This vegetable and fruit market has some of the best-looking plum tomatoes around, not to mention a wide range of mushrooms and finnocchi, an type of Italian fennel.
The celebrity of the market, David Greco, son of owner Mike Greco, has been on the Food Network various times. He beat out television chef Bobby Flay on his show “Throwdown” in an eggplant parmigian cook-off. Featuring fine mozarella, the deli also sells overstuffed heroes with catchy names like the “Yankee Big Boy.”
|Locals and tourists flock to the market, one of the neighborhood's most popular shopping spots. (Photo by F.G. Pinto)|
In the market for over a quarter of century, Café Al Mercato is known for their unique specialty pizza, which features cheese on the bottom and sauce on the top. They also sell authentic Italian soups, salads and pastas.
One of the new kids in the market, I Tech opened a little over a year ago, offering computer repairs and security system installations.