At some point, regular visitors to NYC begin realizing that the best of everything this city has to offer isn’t packed on the island of Manhattan. Italian cuisine is no exception. Increasingly edged out by Chinatown, Little Italy’s restaurants are no match for the authentic neighborhood eateries in the Bronx’s Arthur Avenue District. A good example of this distinction is Roberto Restaurant specializing in Italian country-style and handmade pastas.
Find a spot at one of their farmhouse tables, order off the specials blackboard, and prepare your palate for some uncharacteristic yet authentic Italian flavor. Definitely a far cry from the red sauce joints we’ve come to expect thanks to the Olive Garden and pizza joints in every town across America, Roberto puts the Italian back into dishes like the Pollo Caprese, a breaded chicken cutlet topped with chopped fresh tomatoes and melted bocconcini, served over mesclun salad. Their Fusilli in Cartoccio is packed with fusilli pasta, clams, mussels, shrimp, and fresh tomato cooked in foil on the grill. As the waiter slits the wrapping open tableside, you’ll immediately become enveloped in the intoxicating aroma. Another fusilli dish they feature is baked in a deep terracotta dish filled with fresh tomato sauce, eggplant, capers, anchovies, and a touch of fresh ricotta. Don’t get turned off by the mention of anchovies because you can’t even taste them while the fresh ricotta and meaty eggplant complement each other well.
Another not-to-miss offering is their Cotechino con fagioli e broccoli di rapa: tender sauteed broccoli rabe, homemade sweet and smoky sausage fortified with cannellini beans. Don’t forget, a great way to taste a wide cross cut of their cuisine without wading through large entrees is sampling a few appetizers like octopus salad and buffalo mozzarella with prosciutto, roasted peppers, and sun dried tomatoes.