Arthur Avenue Cafe

To be honest, most restaurants you try on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx will be awesome. This street, known as Little Italy to outsiders and simply as Arthur Avenue to Bronxites, is full of great Italian restaurants and markets. There is also an Albanian restaurant and a few Mexican options as more ethnicities move into the neighborhood. Out of the Italian eateries, I've tried Emilia's, Mario's, Rigoletto's, and the Arthur Avenue Cafe. I'm not crazy about Emilia's. Arthur Avenue Cafe sticks out to me for several reasons. One is the relaxed atmosphere. This is more of a coffee shop than an elaborately decorated, almost kitschy, Italian restaurant. I find the decor and grandeur of some of the other eateries to be a little intimidating and definitely distracting. Another is the menu price. To be honest, most choices on Arthur Avenue are a little on the steep side. Arthur Avenue Cafe isn't cheap, but it is one of the more wallet friendly options. Another reason is the portion size. Many restaurants in the area serve gargantuan portions that make you feel painfully stuffed and sluggish. The portions at the Arthur Avenue Cafe leave you delightfully full with room for coffee and dessert, if you desire.

The most important quality in a restaurant: the food! The bruschetta and olives they put on the table as an appetizer are amazing. High quality, simple ingredients. I could have eaten just the bruschetta and been happy. Their bread basket also includes bread slices that had been brushed with olive oil and then grilled, which I pretty much devoured. They also have great cold cut plates as appetizers. The polenta with sausage and cannelini beans is great. I usually don't like polenta, but I loved this dish. When a friend and I ordered it, I was afraid that there would be a mountain of sausage, but the amount of meat was totally under control. It was the perfect ratio of meat to beans to polenta to tomato sauce. The Italian cheesecake is also delicious. I'll be honest; I'm a New York Cheesecake kind of girl. I love the creaminess of a good cream cheese cheesecake. This Italian cheesecake was creamier than other ricotta cheesecakes I have had. The hostess gave me and my friend a small piece for free since my friend has celiac disease, so I don't know how big a slice would be if you ordered it. She pretty much gave us two petit fours of cheesecake on the house. The candied orange sauce was slightly tart, sweet, and not overpowering. The texture was smooth and creamy, yet lighter than a New York style cheesecake. It had the perfect balance of lightness and creaminess.


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