A Christobal Colom Arthur Avenue Mission: The Quest for Pasta

Today was a national holiday honoring a man who in many ways is an enigma and we know so little about. He called himself Christobal Colom in his private writings to others, and conversed primarily in Medieval dialects of Spanish. No contemporary portrait of the man exists, and all likenesses that have been painted of him were done many years after his death. While historians generally believe he came from Genoa, Italy, he lived the majority of his life under the employ of the Spanish crown, and there is enough evidence to support the theory he may of actually been of Spanish or Portuguese origin. Or even a converso. Some cultures regard him as the one who’s discovery eventually brought about the genocide of the great Native American civilizations (1) (2) (3) by the Spanish Conquistadors.

Nevertheless, to Italian Americans, he is a hero, and I intended in honoring him in my own way, by creating a pasta dish befitting the man and finding a lame excuse to go to Arthur Avenue and eat overstuffed hero sandwiches. And yeah, I know Marco Polo, who died 127 years before Columbus was born, is often incorrectly credited with introducing pasta to Western civilization. He was, however, a highly accomplished explorer and he should be given some props. But unlike Columbus, nobody gave the poor bastard a holiday.

I have been to Arthur Avenue many times in the past (click for previous entry) but today I had a specific mission — to get fresh pasta and grab some lunch. I brought along one of my buddies, Jon Lurie, to act as my entourage and because I felt he needed to get out of the house.

Our first destination was supposed to be Borgatti’s on 187th street, my go-to place for pasta. But alas, when we arrived, we found that it was closed on Mondays. But we decided to press on, in the hope that there would be another outlet to procure some freshly made tagliatelle and angel hair.

Next to Borgatti’s noodle shop is Mt. Carmel wines, perhaps one of the best wine stores in the city for procuring specialty Italian wines and liquors.

Mt. Carmel has a huge selection of Grappas.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below to continue on our Arthur Avenue quest.

Looking for Limoncello? They’ve probably got every brand you could possibly get in the New York Metro area here.

A few doors up from Mt. Carmel is Casa Della Mozzarella, a Italian deli and specialties store.

Caprese Salad.

The dried pasta selection at CDM is extensive. However, no fresh pasta. We moved along. We were hungry and had a mission to accomplish.

Turning the corner on 187th onto Arthur Avenue is Full Moon Pizza, which in my opinion is one of the best steel deck parlors serving conventional NY-style pizza in the entire metro area. I’ve been known to buy one to take home even after having a full meal at one of the restaurants in the neighborhood.

Vincenzo’s, a butcher shop on Arthur Avenue. No pasta here. We move along.

Teitel Brothers, a legendary dry goods store/salumeria. If you’re looking for some excellent prices on bulk amounts of salami and cheese — but you know exactly what you want, Teitel is a great place to go. No fresh pasta here though.

A view down Arthur Avenue.

The Arthur Avenue retail market, our lunch destination and hopefully a lead on some fresh pasta. Next door is Madonia Bakery, which has incredible freshly piped cannolis and excellent bread.

The newest outpost of Umberto’s Clam House. Ironically, they started out in the other Little Italy in Manhattan many years ago, but that neighborhood has essentially turned into Chinatown. Now they’re enjoying a new lease on life in the REAL Little Italy.

Today was a gorgeous day so a lot of people were eating outside.

A quick peek into one of the pastry shops across the street.

It was very tempting to eat outside at Umberto’s, but we couldn’t blow the time. A lot of the stores were going to close early and we had shopping to do.

Looking thru the window at Biancardi’s butcher shop. Yes, that is a real bunny. And he’s not there for show.

Neither is this guy.

Or mister rooster.

Cosenza’s will crack you open some clams to eat, right there on the street.

They had live entertainment inside the retail market today. However, for the true entertainment, one must head over to Mike’s Deli.

Dave Grecco is a real showman and a great businessman. Here he’s demoing how his fresh mozzarella is made, while managing to make some serious cracks about Jersey at the same time. Jon and I put in our sandwich order and I shot some video of Dave (click for video).

Mozzarella cheese curd

Smoked Mozzarella

Smoked Mozzarella closeup.

This is a provolone the size of a giant pumpkin. It has to weigh at least 40lbs.

While Dave said some seriously questionable things about Jersey, I have to forgive him because he saved the day — he told us we could find some really good fresh pasta further down 187th street, near where we parked our car. I also can’t get too pissed at someone who feeds you free samples of salumi and cheese while you’re standing there waiting for your lunch order.

The first of the sandwiches to arrive, The Yankee Stadium. Now, considering that the Yankees got their asses kicked last week by the Detroit ‘friggin Tigers, I’m not sure the Bombers deserve to have this incredible sandwich associated with them. I also apologize that I’ve taken a picture of this sandwich every time I go to Arthur Avenue. But I can’t help it, its a thing of beauty.

Yankee Stadium closeup.

The second of the sandwiches to arrive, a hot veal cutlet.

Mmmmmmm. Cutlets.

After lunch we headed back towards 187th. This is one of the outposts of Addeo, an excellent bakery.

Our quest ends, and at an appropriately named destination — the Terra Nova Pasta Factory.

Here you can get sheets of freshly made pasta cut into a number of sizes you can choose from. For $2 a pound, why make it yourself?

Terra Nova has some great dried pasta to choose from as well.

How big a pot do you need to boil these whole?

Across the street from Terra Nova Pasta factory is a cute little Mexican Grocery/Tacqueria. Before jumping back in the car and heading home, we grabbed some Mexican Cokes and I snapped this cool picture of this big bowl of Chicharrones, fried pork skin.

Later on, we get home and get to work on making dinner. These are Zucchinis and yellow Summer Squash that have been sauteed in olive oil and garlic with a little bit of red bell pepper. I thought that it was appropriate to use a New World vegetable for use in Christobal’s pasta.

Sauteed chicken breast, with fresh pesto added to the pan. For the pesto we used Marcella Hazan’s recipe with all the remaining fresh basil from our garden. A few pints were reserved frozen for the winter months ahead.

Fresh Pasta with pesto and chicken, finished with a splash of cream.

The final dish, Pasta A La Christobal, with fresh pesto and sauteed chicken, topped with sauteed squash, bell pepper and fresh pignoli nuts.

Happy Columbus Day.

12 Responses to A Christobal Colom Arthur Avenue Mission: The Quest for Pasta

  1. daisy says:

    good lord! i am actually sorry that i’ve read this at 8 am because now i want pasta! and fresh mozzerella…and maybe some cannolis…damn!

  2. David says:

    Damn, that is some amazing fod porn…..

  3. Bilbs says:

    Love this site,wonderful photography.

    Trouble is ive put on 10lbs just reading this :)

  4. spamwise says:

    The Yankee Stadium is like totally, the shiznit. ;)

  5. stinger97 says:

    Great pictures. I’ve been to Arthur Ave. far too many times to count, and each time has been a terrific experience. You definitely illustrated that in your photography!

  6. fiat lux says:

    *sigh* Damn I miss NYC.

  7. SeattleLinda says:

    Clams right on the street!! Living here in Seattle is torture with no raw Littlenecks or Cherrystones…..do you realize how lucky you are??? Thank you for your fantastic photos so that I can live through them till my next trip back East.

  8. […] Related food post not to be missed: A Christobal Colom Arthur Avenue Mission  […]

  9. terranova!!! they are the best!! i’ve gotten the extra long pasta. couldn’t cook them whole, but they were so outrageously great, nobody cared… next time go across the street to their bakery and stock up! i promise you that their bread is the best you will ever have! even their breadcrumbs are amazing…

  10. […] Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx. I’ve waxed rhapsodical on Arthur Avenue on this blog a number of times. For those in the know, the “Real” Little Italy is in the Bronx, near Arthur Avenue and […]

  11. OMG…we visit Arthur Ave. every year!
    Madonia Bakery, 187st Wine, fresh clams (and oysters) on the half, the market, cheese and sausage stores, dry goods…food for the body, mind and spirit like no place else! See you Oct 8, 2009 11:30am at the clam bar.
    Carlos and Mary Ann Dos Santos
    Houston, Texas

  12. […] stuffed Sicilian saffron rice balls. I was immediately “scolded” by David Grecco, the deli’s majordomo, for not taking a picture of it […]

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