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Things to Do

What to do and eat in Belmont, Bronx: New York Botanical Garden, Arthur Avenue, more

To outsiders, Belmont is the Little Italy of the Bronx. To locals, it's the only Little Italy in the city.

Arthur Avenue is the neighborhood’s main artery, a bustling street filled with loud families and tourists in town to stock up on gourmet Italian delicacies. Many of the businesses that opened more than 100 years ago still exist today, adding to the feeling of community that makes Belmont thrive.

Outside of this Italian enclave, however, there are some unique treasures in the neighborhood that have gained national attention -- and that you won’t find anywhere else. Put on some good walking shoes and spend a day in this beautiful Bronx neighborhood. And make sure to come hungry.

Start with Italian coffee and treats at De Lillo

De Lillo Pastry Shop at 610 E. 187
Photo Credit: Esha Ray

De Lillo Pastry Shop at 610 E. 187 St. is far from the only pastry shop on the block, but it is often the only one customers flock to for authentic Italian desserts. People swear by the sturdy, sweet-but-not-too-sweet cannolis at this 92-year-old establishment, as well as the steaming cappuccinos, which all come with a hearty dollop of cream. The narrow shop is dominated by the large deli case of cakes and cookies as far as the eye can see and the space is often filled by a mix of customers, young and old, tourist and local. If not the cannoli, choose from standard Italian fare like rainbow cakes, amarettis (almond paste cookies) and cream-filled babas. During the summer, grab a chair on the outdoor patio and enjoy some gelato.

Take a lunch break at Mike’s Deli

If there's one thing to try at Mike's
Photo Credit: Esha Ray

If there's one thing to try at Mike's Deli inside the bustling Arthur Avenue Retail Market, it is the eggplant parmigiana. The dish is so good, even Food Network host Bobby Flay couldn't beat the recipe back in 2010 during an episode of "Throwdown!" The secret to the 50-year-old deli's version of this classic Italian meal is the fresh mozzarella, which owner David Greco makes every morning, and the thin slices of peeled eggplant that are layered throughout.

Mike's Deli serves as both a restaurant and a market, so you can buy wholesale meats (pictured), cheese, breads and olives from the counter or sit down with a glass of wine and a sandwich -- with more than 50 to choose from. If you decide to try the latter, however, be warned: the Arthur Avenue Retail Market gets packed around noon,so grabbing a seat might prove challenging.

Marvel at the beauty of the New York Botanical Garden

No green space in city can match the
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

No green space in city can match the sheer variety of flora at the Bronx's New York Botanical Garden. Since 1891, this 250-acre garden has served as an oasis and educational center for thousands of tourists and native New Yorkers alike.

As impressive as its biodiversity is the number of cultural exhibitions that the garden holds every month. During the last weekend of April, sip Chardonnay and marvel at a stunning display of 300,000 daffodils during the Daffodil Celebration and Wine Weekend; April 22 through Oct. 29, see how glass artist Dale Chihuly approaches a garden show. Purchase the All-Garden Pass for the famous Tram Tour, a narrated ride around the botanical garden, or buy tickets to a specific excursion of your choosing.

Stock up on soppressata at Teitel Brothers

With its bright green awning and discount items
Photo Credit: Teitel Brothers

With its bright green awning and discount items sprawled out front, Teitel Brothers is hard to miss when walking down Arthur Avenue. For over 100 years, this family-run grocery at 2372 Arthur Ave. has been a Belmont mainstay, providing the neighborhood with gourmet goods at bargain prices since 1915.

Replenish your stock of imported olive oil, canned tomatoes, dried meats, cheeses and pasta here, all the while wondering how you're getting such quality items without having to break the bank. Aside from their retail operations, Teitel Brothers services restaurants around the country through its wholesale division. Customers who can't make the trek up to Belmont can also purchase a variety of pastas online.

Take a scenic detour through Fordham University

With its stunning Gothic architecture and tree-lined cobblestone
Photo Credit: Fordham University

With its stunning Gothic architecture and tree-lined cobblestone pathways, Fordham University's Rose Hill Campus at 2691 Southern Blvd. is a one-of-a-kind sight to behold. You may have seen the campus on the big screen in movies like 1973's "The Exorcist" and 2001's "A Beautiful Mind," both of which featured the university's most iconic building, Keating Hall. History buffs can also check out the Fordham University Church, a national historic landmark that features stained-glass windows given to the school by King Louis Philippe I of France. One block over is Bronx Park, home to the famous New York Botanical Garden and equally popular Bronx Zoo. How many universities can claim such awesome attractions?

Enjoy fine seafood dining at Blue Mediterranean

Blue Mediterranean Restaurant at 2356 Arthur Ave. separates
Photo Credit: Blue Mediterranean

Blue Mediterranean Restaurant at 2356 Arthur Ave. separates itself from the pack in more ways than one. Unlike the butchers and delis that surround it, Blue's main draw is Italian seafood. Inside, the brick interior, exposed wood beams and soft lighting give the space an elegant backdrop as you dig into a plate of oysters or clams from the raw bar. Or share the towering seafood plateau (lobster, shrimp, clams, oysters, mussels, and crab meat) with friends. For the main course, try the salmon, branzini or lobster. The grilled octopus salad (pictured), a mélange of bite-size octopus pieces, grilled vegetables and capers, is also popular.

Sink a craft beer at Bronx Beer Hall

If beer brings people together, then Bronx Beer
Photo Credit: Esha Ray

If beer brings people together, then Bronx Beer Hall is located exactly where it should be -- at the center of all the delis, markets and pastry shops that make up the Arthur Avenue Retail Market at 2344 Arthur Ave. Most beers on tap are from area craft breweries, like the Blood Orange Pale Ale from Great South Bay on Long Island or the Mothers Milk Stout from Keegan Ales in Kingston, N.Y. The plentiful TVs, upbeat music and late hours (it closes at 3 a.m. most days) make for a fun night out with friends. If you're around earlier in the day, switch things up with brunch and sip a "beermosa" (pictured), a unique concoction of Belgian ale and orange juice.

Insider tips

Several of the neighborhood's attractions, like Fordham University
Photo Credit: New York Botanical Garden

Several of the neighborhood's attractions, like Fordham University and the New York Botanical Garden, above, are far from Belmont proper, so it's best to route your trip ahead of time in order to get the best experience. If you're coming from the north, take the Metro-North train to Fordham, which drops you off right next to the university. If you're taking a subway, ride the B or D train to Tremont Avenue and walk east or ride the 2 or 5 train to West Farms Square - East Tremont Avenue and walk west.

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