Eating Along Arthur Avenue: A Walking Tour of the Bronx’s Little Italy

Jun 24, 2019 228

BY: Robert Sietsema

In the late 18th century, the neighborhood we now know as Belmont — west of the Bronx Zoo and south of Fordham University — was a portion of the tobacco farm, factory, and estate belonging to the Lorillard family, at a time when the city was covered with tobacco farms, mainly for the manufacture of snuff. A century later, Belmont had been divided into residential lots that filled with German and Irish immigrants. The Italians began to arrive in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, after which Arthur Avenuewas christened the Bronx’s Little Italy, to distinguish it from Little Italy in Lower Manhattan.

The neighborhood spawned many illustrious residents in the 20th century, including actor Anne Bancroft, author Don DeLillo, and singer Dion Dimucci, whose group Dion and the Belmonts scored hits in the late 1950s, including a lament that asked the question, “Why must I be a teenager in love?” The play A Bronx Tale, later a movie directed by and starring Robert DeNiro, was set in the neighborhood. It is currently also a Broadway play.

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