Ride the No. 2 train all the way to the last stop, step off and you've found Wakefield, a small suburban enclave that's New York City's northernmost neighborhood.
While only an hour away from midtown, Wakefield has managed to preserve much of its old-time charm: There are no Starbucks, the streets are quiet, and the main strip is lined with eclectic mom-and-pops.
Named for the Virginia plantation where President George Washington was born, its woods and farmland were cleared in the 1840s after the arrival of the Harlem Railroad.
First settled chiefly by Irish and Italian-Americans, the area saw a huge influx of West Indian and Caribbean immigrants in the 1980s that today primarily make up this middle-class, residential neighborhood.
It's a family community, where people still invite their neighbors over for coffee and children play in the streets after school.
"It's a diverse neighborhood, everybody hangs out and chills together," says Devon Persauv, 41, a West Indian immigrant from White Plains who frequents Wakefield because of the many West Indian hangouts.
Emiele Brown, 28, the manager of Mellicon Café, agrees. " It's so community-oriented here. Everyone feels a part of each other."
Wakefield is bordered by Westchester to the north, Dyre Avenue to the east, 222nd Street to the south and the Bronx River to the west.
Wakefield's cuisine boasts little in the way of sit-down dining -- but what it lacks in table space, it makes up for in authenticity (and price).
Peppino's Pizza Locals frequent Peppino's as much for the lively atmosphere as the fine food. After 30 years in business, Peppino's has become a Wakefield staple. Pizza is their specialty, but check out their dishes too, like mussels marinara. 4701 White Plains Rd. 718-994-7543
Taste Delicious Not only does Taste Delicious serve up heaping portions of Caribbean food, they also carry a limited stock of specialty Caribbean grocery items. Fill up on jerk chicken, then grab a couple cans of Irish Moss (a peanut soda) to go. 4643 White Plains Rd 718-549-2015
New Happy Joy This Chinese spot specializes in no fuss, authentic Chinese food -- exchange rate included (read: cheap). Pig out on Chinese staples like dumplings and General Tso's, or, if you get the craving, fried chicken and french fries. 4717 White Plains Rd. 718-325-8811
Cheffy Two This colorful local spot serves up Caribbean classics -- all the jerk chicken and plantains you could dream of. Be sure to try the curried goat, and take advantage of the super cheap lunch special -- it comes with free lemonade! 4759 White Plains Rd. 718-994-6532
To Shop The majority of Wakefield's residents hit up the nearby malls for serious shopping. However, White Plains Road, the main drag, has plenty of stores for nabbing great deals or just the basics.
Dante's Pastry Shop Ravioli, manicotti and gnocchi, oh my! This well-known neighborhood bakery not only stocks delicious, homemade Italian sweets, but fresh pressed pasta, too. 4715 White Plains Rd. 718-994-6180
Ladies' Fashions Disregard the misleading name -- Ladies' Fashions stocks anything every guy OR girl could need for their closet. From Yankees gear to glittery belts and retro sunglasses, this little place is packed full of goodies at discount prices. 4712 A White Plains Rd. 718-547-8800
City Line Fruit If you're dying to slice up some fresh cactus or breadfruit for your salad, City Line is the place to go. This eclectic produce market stocks exotic finds from all corners of the globe, from Thailand to Timbuktu (literally). 4710 White Plains Rd. 718-325-6173
To Party While Wakefield may not boast as many bars per square foot as, say, the Lower East Side, it does have a few watering holes worth bragging about.
Carnival Bar and Grill This classy neighborhood sports bar is a favorite with the West Indian community. On any given day, you'll catch locals relaxing, having a beer and munching on curried lamb. 684 E. 241st St. 718-231-1114
Mellicon Cafe A magnet for Jamaican Americans, Mellicon is a swanky bar, as well as one of the few sit-down eateries in town. Check out their stellar happy hour, complete with karaoke and a live DJ. 4609 White Plains Rd 718-231-4430
Copacabana In the spirit of the famous Manhattan nightclub, the Bronx's very own Copacabana pumps out energetic Caribbean music on any given night of the week. One of the liveliest spots in the neighborhood, it's particularly popular with the Jamaican population as a place to score some delicious Caribbean cookery. 4250 White Plains Rd. 718-547-2640
To Do The streets of residential Wakefield are peaceful and quiet. A few gallons of gas, however, will buy you endless options for exciting excursions.
Bronx Zoo A bit of a drive and a few bucks will get you to the Bronx Zoo. Spend the day monkeying around with the gorillas, or check out the giraffes in the Carter Giraffe House. 2300 Southern Boulevard 718-367-1010
Soundview Park Situated where the Bronx River and the East River meet, Soundview Park offers sweeping views of both the water and Manhattan. With sports fields, fishing and plenty of grass for tanning and picnicking, you could easily fill an afternoon. Entrance at Randall Avenue.
Orchard Beach A mere 10-minute drive away from Wakefield is Orchard Beach, the only public beach in the Bronx. In the summer, the beach is jam-packed with sun worshipers and swimmers, but in the winters it's equally enjoyable for the landscape and peaceful atmosphere. Located off City Island or Shore Roads 718-885-3467
The Buzz Though these days the majority of Wakefield is quiet and kid-friendly, a few years ago the main strip (White Plains Road) was beset with problems like drug dealing and prostitution. "Lately, Wakefield has experienced a resurgence, with a growing population and more businesses coming to the area every year. "It's definitely improving," said Carmine Mirabile, resident pizza expert and manager of Peppino's Pizza. "I feel safer here than I did 20 years ago."
Wakefield has largely avoided the disturbance of towering apartment buildings in its modest landscape of leafy, tree sprinkled streets and one- and two-family homes. The most common finds are Colonials and townhouses, along with the occasional Victorian. Here's a sampling of what it will cost you:
To buy $169,000 for a one-bedroom apartment in a luxury high-rise (1910 Pelham Parkway).
$399,000 for an early 20th century two-bedroom (2951 Bruner Ave.)
$525,000 for a three-bedroom in a two-family 1930s townhouse (650 Faile St.). $530,000 for a three bedroom, 1950's colonial (3435 Hunter Ave.)
$649,000 for a two-family bungalow from 1915 with a backyard (1224 Fairfax Ave).
To Rent $1,113 for a one bedroom in a walk-up apartment building (E. 224th St).
$1,225 for a two bedroom, one bath (East Gun Hill Road).
$1,500 for a three bedroom apartment, utilities included (White Plains Rd).
Contact: Mary Smith at Century 21 Realty, 718-325-8050
Library Wakefield Branch 4100 Lowerre Place 718 652-4663
Police 47th Precinct 4111 Laconia Ave. 718-920-1211
Crime The 47th Precinct, which covers Woodlawn, Wakefield, Williamsbridge, Baychester, Edenwald, Olinville and Fishbay, reported two murders, one rape, 54 robberies, and 36 burglaries so far in 2008; one murder, three rapes, 38 robberies, and 39 burglaries for the same period in 2007.
Public Bronx CS For Better Learning, 3740 Baychester Ave; JHS 142 John Philip Sousa, 3750 Baychester Ave; PS 103 Hector Fontanez, 4125 Carpentar Ave; PS111 Seton Falls, 3740 Baychester Ave; PS 112 Bronxwood, 1925 Scheifflin Ave; PS 21 715 E 225th St; PS 68, 4011 Monticello Ave; PS 87, 1935 Bussing Ave.
Private Cardinal Spellman High School, 1 Cardinal Spellman Pl; Faith Christian Academy, 1137 E. 223rd St; Mount St. Michael Academy, 4300 Murdock Ave.; Nativity of Our Blessed Lady, 3893 Dyre Ave.; Our Lady of Grace School, 3981 Bronxwood Ave.; St. Mary School, 3956 Carpenter Ave.; St. Francis Assisi, 4300 Baychester Ave.; St. Francis of Rome, 4321 Barnes Ave.
Transportation Train: 2 to 241st Street, 5 to Eastchester-Dyre Ave. Bus: Bx16, Bx31, Bx41, Metro-North to Wakefield
Q and ACarmine Mirabile, 36, the manager of Peppino's Pizza, has been selling slices at East 241st Street and White Plains Road for 20 years.
Why would someone want to live in Wakefield? If you work in the city, there's easy access. We're right next to the subway and the Metro-North. Actually, we have great transportation; you don't even need a car out here. And it's a really diverse culture. There's lots of Guyanese, Jamaicans all sorts of culture. There's not just one culture, or one mindset.
How is Wakefield changing? Twenty years ago, it was really bad it's cleaned up a lot. There used to be lots of drugs, but it's really improved. There's never really much crime anymore.
What's the best part of running a business in Wakefield? There are a lot of great people in Wakefield. There's good families, and loyal customers. We've been here for over 30 years, so we know everybody, and they know us.
Where's the best place to grab a bite and hang out? I love pizza, and I love food. And Peppino's really does make the best pizza around, so I'm going to have to say Peppino's. But 241st Street Café, right next door, is great too. They make good food and great coffee.