Ladies and gentlemen, in 2009 I wrote a food critic review for the Lehman college newspaper which I didn’t post here because I didn’t think it was the right thing to do. Now it’s two and a half years later, I’m preparing a list of the best Italian restaurants in the city and I feel that it is time to share this old review with you. (After extensive googling, if that’s a real word, I could’t even find my old newspaper article) Therefore, here is a food critic review, from a slightly younger me, of Mario’s:
2342 Arthur Avenue
Bronx New York
*Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
For many years, people have been telling me to visit Arthur Avenue, the “Little Italy of the Bronx,” but I didn’t make a trip there until late March. I visited the area for the first time with two of my friends and decided to try the food at Mario’s, a classic Italian restaurant that has been around since 1919. It was not crowded at the time, and there was some soothing instrumental Italian music playing in the background, which added to the ambiance.
For appetizers, we ordered clams oreganate (clams baked with bread crumbs and Italian spices), and spedini a la romana (fried mozzarella cheese). The clams were large and flavorful, while the spedini was robust. I had the impression that the cheese was quite fresh. We ordered three different entrees: lasagna, veal scaloppini surrentino (veal baked with mozzarella cheese, prosciutto, and eggplant in a tomato sauce), and a special of the day: a succulent chicken and veal rollatine (chicken and veal rolled with prosciutto and mozzarella cheese in a marinara sauce).
These dishes were all unique in their own way and showed off the Sicilian distinction of Mario’s. I noticed first that the portions here were on the large side, which is an asset to Mario’s in my opinion because, honestly, I love to eat! The lasagna was bursting with more cheese than beef, which distinguished it from other Italian restaurants that tend to use more beef in the dish. It was quite a departure from what I was used to, but it was a pleasant change. The veal used in the entrees was savory, though not as thin as I would have expected. The sauces were heavier than most sauces that I have tasted—and that’s a good thing. The home-made tomato sauce, particularly, isn’t the typical bottled type that you would purchase at the grocery store: It has an array of spices that is simply delightful and cannot be replicated.
If you truly want to experience what Arthur Avenue has to offer, then Mario’s should be your first destination; the appetizing Italian dishes will undoubtedly make you feel as if you were dining in Italy!