Monday, September 12, 2016

Bronx Tales

Every now and then, in my continuing quest to explore "the boroughs" (and no, I haven't gotten to Staten Island yet, other than multiple trips to a friend's house for great dinners), I decide to head north and that borough up there, known colloquially as: da Bronx.

Not the largest borough (Queens), and not the most populous borough (Brooklyn), the Bronx might just be the most fun borough to visit. (And sorry if I forgot to explain what a borough is; essentially, in New York, the boroughs are counties...but not exactly.)  There's the Bronx Zoo. There's the New York Botanical Gardens.  There are Van Cortlandt and Pelham Bay Parks. There are beaches. Rivers. You get the picture, right? And oh yeah - there's food.

Take Sammy's Fish Box, for example...
Sammy's Fish Box
Located on City Island (yeah, there are also islands in the Bronx), the food is pretty good if you stick with the tried and true, and it's served in what may only be called brobdignagian proportions. It's old school, so everyone gets bread and "crudités." And if soft-shell crabs are in season - they'll probably be as delicious as these...
Soft-shell crabs at Sammy's
But men and women do not live by seafood alone. So when you're in the mood for something a little different, head over to the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx, where you'll find the great...
Louie & Ernie's
The pies rank right up there with our favorites anywhere. In nice weather, you can sit in the backyard and enjoy your pie. The sausage is sourced in the Bronx (where else?), and it's delicious...
Louie & Ernie's Half Sausage Pie
If seafood doesn't move you, and you're not in the mood for pizza, how about Cuban food, at one of the 2 locations of Havana Cafe
Havana Cafe
I've only been to the one pictured above on East Tremont Avenue, and only for lunch, but the ropa vieja I enjoyed was sure worthy of another trip for Significant Eater and me in the near future. I'll bet the bar scene there is hopping on a weekend night!

Arthur Avenue, which many call the "real Little Italy" in New York (though that's debatable at this point), is still worthy of a visit and probably another blog post. There are a few great butchers on the Avenue and the fresh mozzarella at Casa Della Mozzarella is superb, but you need to pick and choose your spots, as a lot of what's on offer in the neighborhood is touristy junk.

Up in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, a couple (literally 2) of old-skool Jewish delis still hold out. Liebman's and Loeser's are the big names, though Sig Eater and I have only visited Liebman's so far. It's certainly good enough for a pastrami sandwich, a bissel of this and a schitckel of that, but it won't stop us from continuing our quest for the best. Here's a 2011 story from Back in the Bronx magazine about the remaining delis, with some excellent pictures.

Anything else? Oh, the Yankees, a great Etruscan Museum at Fordham University, Orchard Beach, and lots more to explore in the largest of our 5 boroughs. Me - I'm still looking for the "bodega" called Stubie's that my grandmother used to send me to in order to buy some farmer's cheese. One of these days... 

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