NFT New York The Bronx

The Bronx

Don't be afraid of the Boogie Down Bronx. Decades of entrenched poverty and poor urban planning once frayed many neighborhoods, but the borough today is no longer the burning wreck your parents warned you about years ago.

Belmont's Arthur Avenue (3) is still an authentic Little Italy even though many businesses now belong to Albanians. Woodlawn (9) is home to many Irish immigrants and it's got the pubs to prove it. With 15,372 units, towering Co-op City (13) is rightly called a city within the city; it even has its own mall! The Mott Haven (14) and Longwood (15) historic districts boast beautiful homes, but "The Hub" (16) features the grand architecture of the past conveniently filled with the discount shopping of today. For antiques, visit the cobblestone corridor of Bruckner Boulevard (17) at Alexander Avenue. Some of the city's grandest homes sit in the wooded environs of Riverdale (4), while City Island (12) resembles nothing so much as a New England fishing village crossed with a New Jersey suburb.See more.

The New York Botanical Garden (8) and the Bronx Zoo (10) are justly famous, well worth whatever effort it may take to get there. For a beautiful view of the Hudson and the Palisades beyond, choose the botanical garden and historic estate Wave Hill (5) or the quirky Hall of Fame for Great Americans (2) featuring 98 bronze busts of notable citizens in a grand outdoor colonnade. Explore your inner Goth at historic Woodlawn Cemetery (7) or Poe Cottage (18), the American poet's final home. Bronx Museum focuses on 20th- and 21st-century art by African, Asian, and Latin American artists, and it's completely free (and open late on Fridays).

New Yankee Stadium (1) is not so new anymore, and Old Yankee Stadium is a distant memory, except for its field, which has been preserved across the street. Get the cheapest ticket you can find and just spend the game walking around the concourses, which have the best views of the field. Van Cortlandt Park (6) offers playgrounds, ballfields, tennis and basketball courts, hiking trails, stables for horseback riding, and one of golf's classic courses, "Vanny."

The restoration of the Bronx River (19) coincides with the improvement of green spaces throughout the borough. Pelham Bay Park (11) is the city's largest at 2,764 acres, offering many recreational opportunities in addition to the Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary, two nature centers, and immensely popular Orchard Beach.

Dominick's, 2335 Arthur Ave, 718-733-2807. Famous old-school Italian-American where there are no menus and no set prices.
Full Moon, 600 East 187th St, 718-584-3451. Wonderful pizza and calzones.
Roberto's Restaurant, 603 Crescent Ave, 718-733-9503. Classic fare; it's that good.
Trattoria Zero Otto Nove, 2357 Arthur Ave, 718-220-1027. Best high-end pizza in the borough at Roberto sister restaurant.
Arthur Avenue Retail Market, 2344 Arthur Ave. Get all the right ingredients for home-cooked Italian meals.
City Island:
Johnny's Reef, 2 City Island Ave, 718-885-2086. Local favorite for fresh, inexpensive seafood.
An Beal Bocht, 445 West 238th St, 718-884-7127. Café/bar/coffee shop hangout for the hip, young, and Irish.
S&S Cheesecake, 222 West 238th St, 718-549-3888. Forget Junior's, this is the city's best.
University Heights:
Ebe Ye Yie, 2364 Jerome Ave, 718-563-6064. Hearty Ghanaian meals.
Concourse Village:
Feeding Tree, 892 Gerard Ave, 718-293-5025. Delicious Jamaican food close to Yankee Stadium.
El Economico, 5589 Broadway, 718-796-4851. Homestyle Puerto Rican meals.

Bedford Park:
Com Tam Ninh Kieu, 2641 Jerome Ave, 718-365-2680. Best Vietnamese in the Bronx; order the pho.
Pelham Bay:
Louie & Ernie's, 1300 Crosby Ave, 718-829-6230. Thin-crust casual pizza that rivals best in the borough.
Taqueria Tlaxcalli, 2103 Starling Ave, 347-851-3085. Authentic Mexican dishes.

1 Yankee Stadium
2 Hall of Fame for Great Americans
3 Arthur Avenue
4 Riverdale
5 Wave Hill
6 Van Cortlandt Park
7 Woodlawn Cemetery
8 New York Botanical Garden
9 Woodlawn
10 Bronx Zoo
11 Pelham Bay Park
12 City Island
13 Co-op City
14 Mott Haven
15 Longwood
16 The Hub
17 Bruckner Boulevard
18 Poe Cottage
19 Bronx River
20 Bronx Museum of the Arts


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Five Beers in Five Boroughs + One Mugging

By Craig Nelson
Come on an epic journey across the five boroughs with NFT Managing Editor Craig Nelson and his drinking buddy Gabriel. From pure beer garden bliss to a late-night visit to the Bellevue ER, they experience the best and worst of New York City in a few short hours. The following is a true story...

End of the Line

By Krikor Daglian
Ever wonder what life is like at the end of the subway line? Krikor Daglian was intrigued by "Wakefield-241" at the end of the 2 line. While he was at it, he also checked out Woodlawn at the end of the 4 and Middle Village/ Metropolitan Avenue at the end of the M. Let's take a look at what he found.

City Island: The Hamptons of the Bronx

By David Freedenberg
A magical place, a fabulous isle, a world unlike any you have ever known. Did I mention Margot at the Wedding was filmed there? It's true. City Island, contained within the Bronx, yet contiguous with nothing but the watery depths of Long Island Sound, is an island full of seafood restaurants, Irish shipbuilders and movie sets, so many movie sets. See it now, before the roiling waves overtake it!

Four Zoos and an Aquarium

By Diana Pizzari
Animals! They're not just for slaughtering anymore. Diana Pizzari's got a thing or four to share about her favorite city zoos and aquarium. Open your ears and clear your minds of meat lust as she details some little-known factoids about bison, breeding and the Bronx.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Scott Sendrow
Photo:  Scott Sendrow

New York Botanical Garden
The New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show is one of the highlights of Christmas in New York. I mean, yes, there is that gigantic tree in Rockefeller Center and, sure, the Christmas windows all around Midtown are a sight to behold, but there's nothing like taking in the collection of 150 New York City landmarks entirely constructed from plant material (!) in the Haupt Conservatory. And then there are the model trains. It would be demeaning to call this special tradition "outsider art," but the near-obsessive attention to detail evokes that spirit. When Christmas is almost entirely commercialized in a city where commercialism reigns supreme, NYBG's heartfelt and homespun Train Show is a welcome change of pace. And 2016 marks the 25th year! The Train Show runs through January 16, 2017. "Bar Car Nights" -- select Friday and Saturday evenings in December and January where adults enjoy a complimentary cocktail while perusing the exhibition -- would make a great date activity before an Arthur Avenue dinner (just a 15-minute walk from NYBG).

Posted By:  Layne Mosler
Photo:  Layne Mosler

Don't let the blacked-out windows scare you away. When cabbie Godfred Opuka is craving food from his native Ghana, this hospital-spotless restaurant in Fordham is where he goes. Aunties in hair nets dish out jollof rice loaded with palm oil, cayenne pepper and tomatoes and serve it with a smoky chili relish. Tilapia is grilled and served whole--head, tail, skin and bones--and so tender you can cut it with a plastic fork. Feeling adventurous? Go for the goat with fufu (cassava dumplings) or okra meat stew with banku (fermented cassava). Portions are super-sized and easy on the wallet--$12 will buy you enough food for two meals.

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Craig Nelson

Bruckner Bar & Grill
Here's a lesson for everyone out there. Never promise a friend that they can have lobster if you agree to take them out to dinner. Even if it's a little pub in the Bronx. Because, lo and behold, what was the special of the day gleaming off the chalk board? That's right, Lobster Ravioli. And the ravioli were actually quite tasty (filled with plump lobster meat) along with the chicken and vegetable shish kabob (tender and juicy with flavorful veggies). Throw in a few Jack Daniels on the rocks and you have a full meal. Besides the semi-gourmet food, this local bar is just a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon. The staff is friendly, locals wander in and out, and they even have an art gallery space in the back room. Check the calendar for upcoming events. Bonus feature: You can walk from Manhattan in about 10 minutes. Just take the 4/5/6 to 125th Street and walk north up Lexington, cross the Third Avenue Bridge, and there it is.

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Yankee Stadium
Well, it's open. First, the good news: you can walk around each level of the stadium and see the game from almost anywhere. The video screen is insanely huge and crisp. You've now got more food choices, including sushi, lots of Carl's Cheesesteak carts, a steakhouse (doesn't have a view of the field, though), and--best of all--a Lobel's cart with a to-die-for $15 sliced steak sandwich. The bad news? All the seats (except for the unsold ones) are MUCH further away from the field; they are more expensive; and, finally, if you are sitting in the 200s, 300s, or 400s, down the right or left-field lines, there's a white wire in your field of vision (see pic) that make another "line" on the field, almost parallel with the foul lines. This wire is to hold up the screen behind home plate; again, it's for the people who can afford $2500 a seat, so they don't have any kind of pole obscuring their vision of home plate. Goody for them. I'm selling my seats (which were formerly upper deck behind home plate, but are now 450 feet from home plate beyond the left-field foul pole). Thanks, Yankees--for completely screwing me over.

Posted By:  Rachel Greenwald
Photo:  Rachel Greenwald

Bronx County Historical Society
Total Assholes! When I was working on Art Deco Bronx--read it, it's great--I hoped to peruse The Bronx County Historical Society's library. You know, get a few ideas or maybe find some periodicals or monographs that I had overlooked at the NYPL. But when I talked to the librarian most relevant to my topic, he condescendingly sent me on a wild goose chase that yielded nothing but irrelevant sources and a new topic worthy of a book-length manuscript. Why? Here's my theory: bottle-fed exclusively in their first year, such librarians are beaten up repeatedly between the ages of three and thirteen, lose high school girlfriends to previous girlfriends and receive regular pummelings in the high school locker rooms. By age 21, they pine for bigger balls. Literally, bigger balls. It's a shame--more seriously--that such bibliothecs are so insecure about their scholarly abilities that they need to bar budding Bronx researchers from an excellent collection of materials. I produce better articles anyway.

Posted By:  Jennifer Keeney Sendrow
Photo:  Jennifer Keeney Sendrow

Trattoria Zero Otto Nove
As if Arthur Avenue didn't have enough great food already, here comes Zero Otto Nove, where the very same chef behind the much-beloved Roberto's is now slinging some really, really great pizza. We're talking crust, sauce, cheese, toppings, all primo. My crowd loved the margherita and the diavola pies, but I still have flashbacks to the potato and porcini mushroom weeks later. This is no mere slice joint either, friends. The dining room feels like it's outdoors, or at least in Los Angeles, all spacious and airy, lit by skylights in the afternoon. Everything on the menu is made with the freshest ingredients from the markets across the street--even the bread served before the meal is ridiculously good--and the wine list is well-matched. The restaurant's name refers to the postal code of Salerno, Italy, and this might just be the best pizza joint this side of over there.

Posted By:  Rachel Greenwald

Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is not quite what I remember it to be. But shameless conservation is what keeps kids fascinated and the menagerie healthy. I mean seriously, do kids really need to go on something called “Skyfari,” where a gondola takes you from one end of the park to the other? And the “Wild Asia Monorail?” Um, you get to see some endangered Asian species for $5, and then you get to hear a veiled donations pitch from the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Tiger Mountain” and “Congo Gorilla Forest?” How about just “Tigers” and “Gorillas?” My advice for an interesting zoo visit: go on foot and stick to no frills exhibits: Bears, Birds of Prey, Sea Lions, etc. As far as concessions go, furry capitalism, in addition to overblown attractions, also offers meals that are clearly designed to take revenge on 40,000 years of animal endangerment. The $4.00 fruit punch smoothie, for instance, is nothing but high fructose corn syrup, food coloring, and ice. I almost gagged, especially since the smell of camels was close by. A much better alternative: exit at Southern Boulevard, then walk westward approximately ten minutes to Arthur Avenue for great, unprocessed, Italian food.

Posted By:  Rachel Greenwald

Riverdale MetroNorth Station
Ultimate in cheap entertainment: a train platform. No problem if the beaches have closed. It’s a last ditch place to sun-bathe at the end of the summer. Really. Locals bring their beach chairs and use reflections from the Hudson River and concrete to get a tan. And if you liked electric trains as a kid, you also get to see the engines roll by. Plus you’ll get to converse with passengers commenting on your clever diversion. But why Riverdale? Well, the platform is exposed with room for beach chairs, unlike some other New York City Metro-North stations, and should you get bored, new adventures aren’t far away. Just hop on a train northward to Poughkeepsie at a cost of $20.90. Because the tracks are right on the water, you get a great view of the river and surrounding landscape, as well as pass West Point and small towns that cater to day tourists. Metro-North also offers a One-Day Getaway package for a Hudson cruise at $27 from Riverdale . Yes, sun-bathing on a train platform is incredibly goofy, but it’s also incredibly cheap. The trip up the Hudson isn’t quite as cheap, but it does get you out of the city when you feel a yen for cliffs and water.

Posted By:  Rachel Greenwald
Photo:  Rachel Greenwald

The Grand Concourse offers a 1920s theater in pristine condition! Built in 1929, the Paradise Theater was considered a royal undertaking. The interior is appropriately modeled on the Baroque period, when growing monarchical states dissolved the feudal system. Reincarnated heads of secular and Papal States would be proud: a blue sky ceiling (Star Chamber and etymology not included), gilded wood carvings, fountains and statues that ought to surround the exterior, but would probably be destroyed by traffic immediately, and marble and oak columns that really can be seen in just about any contemporary building despite baroque intentions. There’s no orangerie, unfortunately, to make up for the boring column idea. But in spite of some historical inaccuracy, the theater is worth a long trip because it is befitting of pre-Enlightenment aristocrats. And it is much cheaper than a trip to Europe to see the local’s favorite church. (Warning: every town insists its Church is best). But never mind the First and Second Estates. I happened to stumble on the theater, and a nice employee let me in. But a stupid, ignorant, dirty, crooked, lazy, sniveling peasant was too worried about his ass to appreciate the importance of NFT’s noblesse oblige. He’ll get wiped out by the tithe. Tours are available for $6. Call 718-220-6143.

Posted By:  Rachel Greenwald
Photo:  Rachel Greenwald

Palombo Bakery epitomizes Riverdale. It closes at 10 pm and offers no wireless service. Scary, huh? Even scarier: when I asked about wireless service, the manager had no idea what I was talking about. That’s like telling a California policeman that you have no drivers license. But the paranormal is Riverdale. Freaky. Nonetheless, these aspects of 1955 suburban existence help to make the café and ice cream parlor a fun retrograde experience, probably because few electronic gadgets means fewer business activities. Plus there’s a loft—aren’t lofts cool?—marble tables, Italian tiles, and expansive windows. Also, check out the sky blue and cloud ceiling. Maybe the one thing at this café that doesn’t epitomize 1955 suburban existence is the food. The café offers only dairy-related products because it’s strictly kosher. They also have parve products, which are classified as neither milk nor meat. And their home-made gelato tastes terrific. For those who suffer from Wi-Fi addiction, veterans tell me that it is possible to siphon off from nearby buildings. Terrific. But what do these people have against staying open until midnight?

Posted By:  Rachel Greenwald
Photo:  Rachel Greenwald

J Jade Dim Sum Café
J. Jade is a really easy place to sit down and have a meal. The staff is subdued, but still provides good service. Even if the waiter is nowhere in sight at the moment, he still pops out from the back just at the moment you want him. That’s rare. And it makes for a relaxed meal. No pressure to pay and make room for the next customer. In addition, the restaurant offers a good lunch special that ranges from $5.25-$6.95 depending on which entrée you order. All are accompanied by soup and rice. These lunches clearly use first rate ingredients, something that you can’t always count on at midday. Another plus is that J. Jade is very quiet and conducive to holding a conversation. Lastly, try a pint of shrimp lo mein at only $4.25. It’s the best I’ve had in my neighborhood. Unlike one take-out place that gives you no more than five shrimp with what looks like four cups of noodles, J. Jade actually includes shrimp in its shrimp lo mein. In fact, it includes enough shrimp to provide more than the RDA of protein. I didn’t think that was possible.

Posted By:  Rachel Greenwald
Photo:  Rachel Greenwald

Now it’s a Staples monstrosity…and an Art Deco building! The Wagner building is classic Art Deco architecture: streamlining, detailed decorative architectural elements, and luxury materials at the entrance and in the lobby. (Hint: a “design deposit” with the concierge might bring you a closer look at the lobby, but I didn’t give it a try.) That’s the good part. The bad part? Take a look at the picture to the left. How hard is it for a building owner to insist that the Staples sign not only be in keeping with the ‘30s and ‘40s, but also be in proportion to the building. Don’t get me wrong. I like my office products as much as anyone else, especially the super-cheap Staples-brand white stapler with wavy lines. Yes. That’s right. The brilliant office products superstore can produce nice-looking staplers with wavy lines. So Staples, remove the f*#ing stop sign! Others who should take the hint as well are sole proprietors and Levitz. This isn’t a big-box structure. Where is the National Guard, I ask you?

Posted By:  Rachel Greenwald
Photo:  Rachel Greenwald

It’s always Carnival at the Angelia Bakery. Sky blue seats and old-fashioned counter stools. Cakes waiting to be picked up in the back and bunting over the grill. The locals are repeat customers, happily ordering sandwiches and pastries. But sadly, the décor’s topsy-turvy architectural elements are carnivalesque. Let’s begin with some preliminary criticism: “Another Shabbat comes to a close. May we gain strength from the Torah as we consider the personal and theological ramifications of a burnt umber floor having more in common with earth than tile.” “My opponent would like you to believe that his gender will guarantee the safety of your interiors. But only a grandmother of five can put through legislation that will keep birthday cake TV-free. Television and tiramisu, Your …Days …Are …Numbered!” “Honey, the romanesque arches are so faa-bulous and festive! Luv the neon lights. But the orange-tiled wall at the back? So paa-sé! Be a lamb and destroy it.” “Like, the food is like totally awesome, but Omigod! Kafka-esque interior! Like, I’m in the front with a tart, but the back makes me like question my choice of lemon over cherry.”

Posted By:  Jayson Walker
Photo:  Jayson Walker

New York Botanical Garden
With a $20 fee and a malaise-inducing onslaught of name-branding upon grounds entry, familiarity with Dale Chihuly was not a pre-requisite for an immediate impression. His largess - equal parts one-eyed visionary and recognition-hungry self-promoter—has earned him the notoriety of a glassblowing Damien Hirst. While both sides were on display at this well-publicized eponymous exhibition that ended in October, thankfully only the former found its way to the installations and, yes, made the price well worth paying. Letting natural plant shapes influence this site-specific exhibition, Chihuly, through exquisite mastery of color created nearly magical sculpture forms that transformed, complemented, surprised, confronted, but never competed with the myriad permanent plants/trees in the various greenhouses and outdoor spaces. Japanese ikebana sculptures blushed between lush willows, translucent fern-like ribs reached up from the bare ground, ruby reeds stood stoic amongst desert cacti, cubist blue boulders bobbed gleefully in neon moats; even his signature large-scale amoeba and balloon sculptures struck an easy balance in this environment, drawing you in to explore the surrounding spaces, rather than demanding your attention, making an always enjoyable trip to NYBG suddenly otherwordly.

Posted By:  Jennifer Keeney Sendrow
Photo:  Courtesy Roomorama

When in Belmont, this place is a must. Shoppers have crammed its narrow aisles seeking Italian groceries, fresh baked goods, produce, meats, and deli foods since 1940, and they show no signs of stopping. Weekdays are quieter than weekends, except at lunchtime in the vicinity of Mike’s Deli. Get on line, because their sandwiches are well worth the wait. Besides offering edible bounty, the Market is probably one of the only places in the city where you can watch someone hand roll cigars for sale. They’re perfect for celebrating the birth of a child, a fat Wall Street bonus, or a well-executed hit.

Posted By:  Jennifer Keeney Sendrow
Photo:  Courtesy Roomorama

S&S Cheesecake
S & S makes the best cheesecake. Seriously. That’s it. Stop talking about Junior’s, and don’t even dare mention anything that involves the word “factory.” We have already made our decision. When you head to the Bronx for your cheesecake, be aware that the talented bakers at S & S are Orthodox Jews, so they close on Friday afternoons, all day Saturday, and all the Jewish holidays. If you are in the neighborhood and see the shop closed, you can check to see if Steve’s deli next door has anything in the fridge. You can thank me later. With a cheesecake from S & S.

Posted By:  Rachel Greenwald
Photo:  Rachel Greenwald

When I tried to photograph his store, Gil Teitel informed me that the premises were classified and that pictures would therefore be out of the question. And then he called me Landsman. “You sure?” I replied. “If your name's Rachel,” Teitel said, “You're a Landsman.” You mean I traveled all the way to Little Italy to find classified balsamic vinegar and a Yid? Such a trip ... I could live without. Okay, that last part isn't true. What could be better than Jews and Italians cracking organized crime jokes together? Teitel may very well be the one Yid on Arthur Avenue today, but you wouldn't know it from his stock of wholesale groceries and food products: imported Provolone, Cortenese, and 3-year old Reggiano Parmigiano, plus Prosciutto, pepperoni sticks, Italian tomatoes, and Sicilian olive oil for less than retail. Fortunately for me, I don't keep kosher, 'cause those pork sausages and cheeses looked awfully yummy. Yet more evidence that Jewish and Italian culture are basically the same ... except for that Jesus matter.

Posted By:  Rachel Greenwald
Photo:  Rachel Greenwald

Van Cortlandt Golf Course
Back in college, I had a roommate who was terribly and amusingly frustrated by the lack of a university equestrian team. “I just can't believe it,” she would protest. “Well ... uh ... we are in the middle of Manhattan,” I would reply. She's had the last laugh. There are now stables in Van Cortlandt Park. Experienced riders on the West Side no longer have to travel to Englewood for equestrian pursuits. And for those are interested in learning from a nationally-recognized riding school, Riverdale Equestrian Center offers lessons. Its founders are two former Olympians, Rusty and Ashley Nicoll Holzer, who insure the hiring of qualified instructors and caretakers. The facilities are located on 21 acres and include 62 stalls, four outdoor riding areas, an indoor Olympic size arena, 8 turnout paddocks, a ¼ mile exercise track and easy access to Van Cortlandt Park trails. No need to own a horse either, since the stables will provide. Lastly, kids seven and under can take pony rides all October for just $5/lap. Call for details. My roommate was forced to go to Jersey—poor thing—but New Yorkers today can hop on the 1 Train instead.

Posted By:  Rachel Greenwald
Photo:  Rachel Greenwald

Not only homemade Italian cheeses, but animal sculpture makes Calandra a true artisanal shop. The same care, attention to detail, and pride in craftsmanship required for carving incredibly cute pigs out of cheese is also evident in Calandra's outstanding milk products: ricotta, cacciocavallo, burrino, formagio fresco, romano, and, of course, a mozzarella so tasty that it brought me to buy fresh basil and Roma tomatoes that afternoon. Much of Caladra's success in producing flavorful cheeses lies in their insistence on separating the curds from the whey themselves. Instead of purchasing mass-produced curds, the store partners with a Pennsylvania dairy farm owned by the sons of the original cheese-shop owner, and therefore gives itself control over ever step of the cheese-making process. What's the difference between homemade and commercially-produced curds? Bland, bland, bland. Kind of like the oregano-free tomato sauce mass-produced for big pizza chains. Would you trust Pizza Hut to carve incredibly cute pigs out of cheese? I don't think so.

Posted By:  Jennifer Keeney Sendrow
Photo:  Courtesy Roomorama

Johnny's Reef
You work hard, and sometimes you just feel like eating a hulking mound of fried seafood atop a hulking mound of French fries. Johnny’s Reef will give you what you need. Sitting at the tip of the “Nantucket of the Bronx,” Johnny’s is a no-frills cafeteria with briskly efficient counter staff turning out fried fish, seafood chowder, iceberg lettuce salads, jello, soft-serve, and drinks to the unwashed masses. Everything but the fried fish and the beer is half-hearted at best, so stick with an order of shrimp, clams, cod, or similar encased in crusty goodness. The indoor seating is often chaotic during mealtimes, so go in good weather, wedge yourself into one of the picnic tables outside, and enjoy the views of the Sound. You will eat more than you should, and you will be back.

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See The Bronx...
Restaurants (19)
Nightlife (4)
Shopping (10)
Landmarks (8)