A Day In The Bronx

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Photo Credit: Josh Lesser

A view of The Long Island Sound and Throgs Neck Bridge from Johnny’s Reef Restaurant.

by Josh Lesser, Writer

The Bronx has come a long way since its time of urban decay and extreme poverty of the 70’s. The Bronx County is the third most densely populated county in the country and is often viewed as the most overlooked Borough in New York City. Besides from the Cross Bronx Expressway, Yankee Stadium and The Bronx Zoo people tend to not know much about The Bronx. Even though The Bronx is a long way from being gentrified anytime soon, the Borough has some great things to see, which makes it a worthwhile visit for anyone who’s willing to make the half-hour journey across the George Washington Bridge.

  1. Wave Hill/Riverdale: Saturday 9:30 am.

The best way for anyone to start off their visit to The Bronx is with a trip to a Garden. The Bronx is home to one of the world’s most famous Gardens, The New York Botanical Garden. Starting around Christmas every year the Garden hosts an impressive model train display however the garden gets crowded around the holidays. So as an alternative there is a Garden in Riverdale that is less known which has fewer crowds, Wave Hill. Wave Hill is one of The Bronx’s best kept secrets. The Garden is located on a 28 acre estate that was once rented out by Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and many other affluent Americans at the turn of the twentieth century. Along with its numerous Gardens and Greenhouses the Garden overlooks the Palisades and the Hudson River. There is also a café in the estate house for anyone who feels the need to get some apple cider or cookies. However if its food your looking for it is defiantly worth stopping in Riverdale and eating at one of its many kosher bakeries or delis. Riverdale is a highly Jewish neighborhood in The Bronx and is home to many upscale apartments, townhouses and some free standing homes. Jews have left a major impact on New York City and specifically the Bronx and up until the 70’s Yiddish was the second most spoken language in The Bronx after English.

  1. City Island: Saturday 12:30 pm.

A true local taste of The Bronx could be found at City Island. City Island is a small Island off The Bronx mainland in the Long Island Sound.  Once on City Island one will feel as if they have stepped into a New England fishing village when in reality they are in New York City. Being that fishing is the major source of income on City Island it is definitely recommended to eat at one of City Islands fishing restaurants. The restaurants on City Island range from high end to local fast food. There is one original fast food restaurant that is definitely worth the trip, Johnny’s Reef Restaurant, where the locals go. Johnny’s reef offers a variety of fried seafood for 15$ or less. The portions at Johnny’s tend to be large and can easily feed one person. Johnny’s Reef outdoor seating offers great views of the Long Island Sound from where you can see Great Neck, Queens and Manhattan. The view is unlike any other in all of New York. While at City Island it is worth the visit to City Island Nautical Museum. The museum showcases the history of the community on City Island and is open on weekends from 1 pm to 5 pm.

  1. The Bronx Museum of the Arts: Saturday 3:30 pm.

Today The Bronx is home to a large African-American community as well as large immigrant communities from Latin America, Caribbean Islands and East Asia. This blend of cultures creates a unique art scene that can only be found in The Bronx. There is no better place to check out the art then The Bronx Museum of the Arts. Not only is admission to the museum free but it’s a great place to go to experience The Bronx. The museum is home to over 1,000 pieces of contemporary art that includes pieces made by artists from The Bronx and places that influenced them. The museum also pays homage to all the cultural movements started in The Bronx such as Graffiti, Hip Hop and Latin Jazz. After visiting the Museum take a stroll (4 blocks) down to Yankee Stadium and see one of Major League Baseball’s top stadiums. The area around the stadium is filled with stores and restaurants dedicated to the New York Yankees also while walking around one will here all the noise from the elevated 4,B and D subway trains.

  1. Arthur Ave: 6:00 pm.

No trip to The Bronx is complete without going to Little Italy. When most people think of Little Italy they think about the one in Manhattan. However the one in The Bronx seems to give off a more authentic feel and that’s why they sell themselves as the “real Little Italy”. It is roughly three blocks long with coffee shops and restaurants. One major sight that must be seen is the Arthur Ave Retail Market. It is an Italian market where one can buy sausages, pastries, gelato and flowers. While in little Italy it definitely pays to get a cup of expresso and a pastry at one of the many restaurants such as Palambo Pastry Shop.

  1. Dinner at F&J Pine Restaurant: 7:30 pm.

Perhaps there is no better place to experience The Bronx then at F&J Pine Restaurant. This is a traditional Italian restaurant with a Bronx flare. The restaurant is filled with Yankees memorabilia and on the wall there is a mural of The Bronx in the 1950’s. This is a great place to go to with local flavor. Every night the restaurant is packed with families, dates and wedding parties. The restaurant likes to say that even Yankee players are known to stop by to eat. One can order a variety of Italian dishes from pizza to pasta and seafood and meat entrees. The restaurant prices are moderate but the portions are huge. According to ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani it is one of the “top ten” must eat restaurants in all of New York City (not just The Bronx).