For the first time ever and as part of New York City's reopening, each weekend evening this summer from Thursday to Sunday Bronx Little Italy has partnered with Sam Schwartz, former NYC Traffic Commissioner, to create their first-ever piazza-style dedicated al fresco dining plan between East 188th Street and Crescent Avenue.
"The plan incorporates health and safety protocols, six feet spacing between tables, signage for pedestrians, temporary street closures during the weekend evenings and more. Approved by the Department of Transportation, “Piazza di Belmont” creates a glorious, European-style outdoor dining experience," according to a recent press release from BID.
As huge Arthur Avenue fans, me and my gang made our way to the Bronx from Long Island to experience things first-hand. Since the street is closed to vehicular traffic Thursdays to Saturdays from 6 pm to 10 pm (and Sunday 1 pm to 9:30 pm), we wanted to get there a bit prior to our reservation because I wasn't sure what to expect in the way of parking. There are municipal lots, however, we were lucky enough to find street parking less than a block away from Arthur Avenue and our destination restaurant, Enzo's of Arthur Avenue.
Both Maria and Enzo grew up the Belmont neighborhood of the Bronx, each coming from multi-generational families that owned local shops on Arthur Avenue, so they were well positioned for success with their restaurant!
Sadly, tragedy hit the di Rende family when Enzo was diagnosed with prostate cancer and passed away at age 46 about two years ago. When Enzo passed, Maria and her family, along with the entire staff, promised to work together to continue their family’s original vision and make sure the restaurant would succeed.
As a single mom, Maria is not only a shining example of a successful small business owner, but a role model for women, and especially moms, of what is possible when one puts their heart, soul and hard work into their business.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Maria for a story I will be featuring in the next few weeks featuring a number of Arthur Avenue businesses and how they are faring in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, business closures and re-openings. Aside from her soft spoken demeanor and gracious manner, Maria is an inspiration for how she was able to get through such a personal tragedy and push forward successfully on both the home and work front.
My sit-down, however, did not include eating and of course, that was something that I was intent on doing at Enzo's! As a single mom and blogger, I try to bring my own teenage daughters with me on story excursions whenever possible and a trip to Arthur Avenue was not one that I had to persuade them to do. My girls love everything about the Bronx Belmont neighborhood and the eating experience tops the list.
We had a new addition to our usual trio and our dinner at Enzo's last night - Gianna's boyfriend Tyler, who had never been to Little Italy.
The outdoor seating was very inviting and with the absence of cars driving by, it was quiet and calm. Wait staff, of course were donned with masks, which I'm sure is not the most comfortable way to take orders, wait on patrons and serve food, but they made it look easy with their extra friendly attitude and high level attention.
We ordered two appetizers after indulging in not one, but two baskets of bread. Enzo's olive bread is to die for!! So soft, fresh and the olives literally fall apart in your mouth. The Stuffed Artichoke was a culinary work of art to look at, filled with different textures and colors and Gianna devoured it. The kids also did a number on the Fried Calamari, served with tomato sauce. I was worried that they may not have room for their mains. But, that didn't happen!
It should be noted again, as per above, all of the pastas are homemade and oh, so good!!!
I'm going to let the food photos speak for themselves! We were lucky that the weather cooperated for an evening of al fresco dining - a lovely breeze filled the air along with the aroma of the best Italian food in all of New York!!
Try to venture to Arthur Avenue for a delicious night of al fresco dining this summer!
Till next time,