Merchants and eateries along the Bronx’s Little Italy intend on moving full speed ahead to close Arthur Avenue for piazza style, outdoor dining on weekend evenings per phase two of the city’s reopening.
Belmont Business Improvement District Treasurer Frank Franz reported that the street closure will likely begin on or about Friday, July 10, as the Department of Transportation has already granted forms of temporary approval for the streetside al fresco dining plan.
Franz, who first told amNewYorkMetro about the Bronx Little Italy’s outdoor dining plan, also noted that while time is of course essential for restaurants and businesses, there wasn’t much sense in rushing things before a holiday weekend that’s best known for backyard barbecues.
While that concept, which might help diners feel more like they’re eating in Tuscany, is still days away, the iconic avenue is already set for an expansive and unique outdoor culinary experience that can’t be enjoyed anywhere but the Bronx.
The famed Mike’s Deli, which has been a cornerstone of the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, has already created outdoor, curbside seating while many other stands in the market have done similar.
Owner Dave Greco, who took the business over from his late father Mike, said that COVID-19 was the most trying experience for his eatery since he began working with his dad at age 12.
He stressed that the city’s upcoming Phase 3, hopefully starting in early July, is crucial not just for his business, but for the entire strip of restaurants surrounding the Belmont block.
Greco added that Arthur Avenue needs a return of its loyal, out-of-town customer base, that religiously travel from Westchester County, Connecticut, and Long Island, to begin making a fierce comeback from coronavirus.
“They may not technically be from the neighborhood, but to us, they’re locals,” he said.
Greco also sees Phase 3 as a pivotal step because it allows for limited indoor dining — allowing his and other restaurants not to suffer from poor weather that discourages al fresco dining.
But on a hot day, Mike’s Deli says they’ve got the perfect meal to enjoy outdoors: the “Bobby D” sandwich named for Robert De Niro himself.
Greco serves such a behemoth of a sandwich paired with prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe that comes garnished with mint, lemon, and a balsamic glaze paired with, of course imported Italian peach prosecco on tap.
More of the magnificent offerings from Mike’s Deli can be seen on Instagram.
Meanwhile, other restaurants like Enzo’s are utilizing both backyard space as well as in-street dining for phase two.
As an upscale restaurant, Enzo’s couldn’t thrive on a take-out based model during COVID and are quite eager to bring customers back inside at a modified capacity per phase three regulations.
Management expressed optimism about being able to configure a new, indoor dining set-up that will be both functional and enjoyable for the upcoming weeks as well.
Ajo y Oregano, a Dominican restaurant adjacent to Arthur Avenue is also making the best use of its cute and quaint outdoor space too.
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This upcoming weekend is going to be a pivotal one for the success of Belmont, many on Arthur Avenue say — so if you’re looking for some elegant outdoor dining plans, seek no further.