Ireland with an NYC accent
On St. Patrick’s Day, it seems the whole city is Irish. But shamrock glasses and green beer are far from authentic. If you want a true taste of the Emerald Isle, we recommend checking out three outer-borough neighbhorhoods — Woodlawn in the Bronx and Sunnyside and Woodside in Queens.
Erin go Bronx
As soon as you enter Woodlawn, you’ll notice store awnings decorated with four-leaf clovers and signs advertising Irish goodies. The neighborhood’s large Irish expat community extends into neighboring Yonkers, too.
Residents of Woodlawn live primarily in one- and two-family brick and shingled homes. The neighborhood’s commercial epicenter is Katonah, where you’ll find Irish barbers, butchers and pub owners.
“It’s a real home away from home,” said Sandra Scott-Davis, an Irish expat who works as a waitress at the Rambling House restaurant and pub. “You hear the Irish accent everywhere,” she said. Here are several spots worth checking out in Woodlawn:
Prime Cuts, 4338 Katonah Ave., 718-324-9262
The food here is “just like your mother would have done it,” said Jackie Rooney, a bartender at the Rambling House. Neighborhood residents rave about the the small shop’s signature steak-and-mushroom pies, shepherd’s pies, sausages and curries.
The St. Barnabas Church, 409 E. 241st St., 718-324-1478
This Catholic church is the heart of the community for many Woodlawn residents. The church has daily Mass and an elementary school and all-girls high school. It also offers events, such as bingo night, Irish concerts, theme dinners, and Boys’ and Girls’ Scouts.
Shamrock Irish Gift Shop, 921A McLean Ave., Yonkers, 914-237-3223
Though it’s in Yonkers, McLean Avenue abuts Woodlawn and feels like an extension of the neighborhoood. This little shop, across the street from Rory Dolan’s pub, specializes in Irish souvenirs such as Waterford crystal, wedding bands, Irish-style platters and more.
The Rambling House, 4292 Katonah Ave., 718-798-4510
Customers flock to this large pub for traditional Irish dishes, broadcasts of Irish sporting events, and pints poured by real Irish bartenders. Its a traditional pub, meaning it’s more of a meeting place and restaurant than a dark drinking bar (though plenty of drinking does go on). Some nights a “chipper,” or food truck, parks outside.
Sean’s Quality Deli, 4273 Katonah Ave., 718-515-8811
This small, unpretentious deli sells Irish newspapers, some traditional hot food, and rows of Irish and English packaged goods — Barry’s Tea, anyone?
Getting there: Either take Metro-North (Harlem line) to Woodlawn, or the No. 2 or 5 train (to 233rd Street), or the No. 4 (to Woodlawn) and then a bus to Katonah Ave.
Queens’ own Emerald Isle
Woodside and Sunnyside are not as noticeably Irish (or quaint) as Woodlawn. Though the neighborhoods were once largely Irish, immigrants from Asia and South America have arrived in large numbers.
But there are still signs of Irish life — in the pubs, restaurants and supermarkets that stock Irish products. Queens Boulevard between 41st and 48th streets, is even known as “pub row.”
There are three Catholic churches in the area that attract both Irish and non-Irish worshippers. While you’re in these neighborhoods, you may want to scope out the following.
Butcher Block, 43-46 41st St., Sunnyside, 718-784-1078
This Sunnyside grocer has been appealing to Irish tastes for 15 years. Expats stock up on Irish and English products, such as Cadbury chocolates, Jacob’s biscuits and Barry’s teas. The meat counter does brisk business, too.
Cuckoo’s Nest, 6104 Woodside Ave., Woodside, 718-426-5684
This pub is a good bet if you’re looking for strong drinks, tasty snacks, and want to sit back and take in a game or two. The pub broadcasts rugby and hurling games.
Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians Church, 70-31 48th Ave., Woodside, 718-672-4848
The oldest of the neighborhood’s Catholic churches, Mary’s was established as a German and Irish parish in 1854. According to Msgr. Brendan Duggan, who hails from Ireland’s County Limerick, the church still has quite a few Irish members, including many young families.
Aubergine Cafe, 49-22 Skillman Ave., Woodside, 718-899-1735
Though it doesn’t scream “Irish,” this Irish-owned cafe serves scones and Irish tea in addition to sandwiches, salads and quiches.
Getting there: Take the No. 7 train to 46th Street for Sunnyside; Take the No. 7 to 61st Street for Woodside