Thursday, December 13, 2012
In the wine world, the term terroir is something you hear a lot. The concept itself is the basis for the delineation of French wines and their system of Appellation d’origine controlee, which has been the model for most wine laws around the world. It is the idea that one specific place and only that place, that land, the soil thereof and the way it interacts with the vines lends remarkable and unique characteristic to the resulting wine. It is, essentially, the taste of place. It’s a concept that I think is wonderful and romantic and truly, accurate in many ways.
I found myself thinking about the idea of the taste of a place when strolling around Arthur Avenue in the Bronx on Sunday on the drive home from a dear friend’s wedding in New York. And even though it’s not quite the same idea, I thought to myself that this physical place, the blocks of Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx has a strong taste of place for me. And that taste is mostly pizza. And also prosciutto.
It’s easy for most any of us to wax nostalgic about a particular place where we once lived, where we have happy memories and knowledge of how to get around. But Arthur Ave., in my life, in my mind and in my memory is of epic proportions. Living off campus senior year was the first time in my life I really began cooking for myself. The first place I explored grocery stores and markets and branched out beyond just pizza and chicken rolls (although I ate my fair share of them both). It was the first place where my friend Stevie and I paged through cookbooks for fun on a Saturday afternoon (for the record we are both still unashamed food geeks) and made an event of going to get bread. It was in many ways where Porky Dickens began.
So I was thrilled to share this place with Paul. To walk around and hit up the Madonia Brother bakery for olive bread, fennel raisin bread and delicious biscotti. And to go to Tino’s- arguably my favorite place to get lunch on the planet- to grab prosciutto, aged provolone, sun dried tomatoes, spicy olives and sacks of farro. The stuff we gathered we spread out later on that night for a snack. The bread baked that day, the prosciutto sliced perfectly thin and the sundried tomatoes, so ridiculously good that I’m almost positive someone’s Nonna dried them out on her patio in Tuscany. It’s the kind of food that’s so good it almost makes you mad you can’t get it every day. You just can’t beat it.
New York has a LOT of AMAZING food to try. From sweet roasted nuts on the street corner and super cheap dogs at Gray’s Papaya to the height of haute cuisine. But for me: Arthur Ave. is it. The day prior we explored Eataly, Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali’s Italian food and wine megaplex and it was impressive (and crowded) and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t toss back a giant Sicilian slice with ease there. But I didn’t buy one thing. Because I knew the next day I could hit up good old Tino’s and get the exact same food at lower prices with a dose of awesome Bronx style hospitality. If you have never been to Arthur Ave. or even heard of it: do yourself a favor and go. It’s the best place I’ve ever tasted.
To explore Arthur Ave. check out the neighborhood website. My personal recommendations are the Arthur Ave. Retail Market (not open on Sundays), Madonia Brothers Bakery, Tino's Deli and Catering, Full Moon Restaurant and Full Moon Pizzeria. Also, for full dinner Pasquale Rigolettos, Domenick's or Giovanni's are awesome as well. It's all good.
Posted by Jess at 9:08 PM