Known as the "Little Italy" of the Bronx, Arthur Avenue still thrives much like it did more than 100 years ago, when Italian immigrants settled in the area. Maintaining the charm that other, better-known Italian districts have lost, Arthur Avenue and the surrounding streets are lined with mom-and-pop bakeries, restaurants, pastry shops, houseware merchants, fishmongers and others selling Italian goods to locals and tourists. It's the go-to place for stocking your kitchen with the finest Italian foodstuffs and for a dose of traditional Italian-American culture.

Where to shop

The Arthur Avenue Retail Market , 2344 Arthur Avenue

This indoor market has it all -- butcher counters, kitchenwares, fresh produce, imported Italian specialty foods and counter-service cafes.

Casa Della Mozzarella , 604 E. 187th St., 718-364-3867

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The fresh mozzarella beats any you've tasted elsewhere. Sample it while you wait!

Teitel Bros. , 2372 Arthur Ave., 718-733-9400, teitelbros.com

The rare Jewish business in the area, Teitel's purveys cheeses, dried and cured meats, dried fruits, nuts, canned fish and more.

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La Casa Grande Tobacco Company , 2344 Arthur Ave. (inside market), 718-364-4657, lcgcigars.com

Pick up one of few nonedible souvenirs here, where cigars are handrolled to order.

Borgatti's Ravioli & Egg Noodles , 632 E. 187th St., 718-367-3799, www.borgattis.com

Fresh raviolis and noodles for more than 70 years. Make space in your freezer, because you won't leave empty-handed!

What to do

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Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel , 627 E. 187th St., 718-295-3770, ourladymtcarmelbx.org

A quiet respite in this bustling neighborhood, Our Lady has been welcoming visitors since 1907. Stop into this hidden gem and marvel at the gorgeous stained glass windows and marble Corinthian columns.

Enrico Fermi Cultural Center , 610 E. 186th St., 718-933-6410

Named for the Nobel Prize-winning physicist and located inside the Belmont Public Library, the Enrico Fermi Cultural Center has community offerings such as lectures, concerts and exhibitions. A vast Italian heritage collection is worth investigating.

Ciccarone Park , East 188th Street, between Arthur and Hughes avenues.

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Bring along a cappuccino and a canolli and head to the benches at Ciccarone Park. This pleasant neighborhood spot is a great setting for the little ones to let loose while you cool your heels.

Where to eat

Café al Mercato , 2344 Arthur Ave. (inside market), 718-364-7681 (COST $)

Fresh pastas, sandwiches, pizzas and veggies are dished out at this casual spot at the back of the retail market. Order at the counter and grab a table. Prepare to be full, happy and wanting more.

Enzo's , 2339 Arthur Ave., 718-733-4455, (COST $$-$$$)

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A welcoming, old-school Italian spot where a glass of wine and white tablecloths are the norm. The kitchen serves up everything from traditional antipasti platters to seafood, pastas and meats.

De Lillo Pastry Shop , 606 E. 187th St., 718-367-8198, (COST $)

This is one of those old-fashioned pastry shops where you want one of each item in the case. Crème puffs, canolli, Italian cakes and cookies, plus a cappuccino make DeLillo's a delightful and delicious snack stop between meals.

What's nearby

Bronx Zoo , Bronx River Parkway at Fordham Road, 718-220-5100, bronxzoo.com

Only a ravioli's throw from Arthur Avenue, the world renowned Bronx Zoo is home to more than 4,000 animal species. Experience the Madagascar exhibit, which features lemurs and much more. Or see the famous Congo Gorilla Forest, where you'll come face to face with the magnificent primates.

New York Botanical Garden , Bronx River Parkway at Fordham Road, 718-817-8700, nybg.org

Come by to see a special exhibit, such as "The Orchid Show: Brazilian Modern" (through April 12th) or simply wander the grounds of this famed Bronx oasis.

Getting there

BY CAR Take the Throg's Neck Bridge (I-295) to the New England Thruway (I-95). Head north to exit 8C ( Pelham Parkway West). Pelham Parkway turns into Fordham Road. Continue west on Fordham Road approx. 1 mile. Turn left onto Arthur Avenue. The main stretch of shops runs from 188th Street to Crescent Avenue.

BY SUBWAY Take the D or #4 train to Fordham Road and catch the BX 12 bus eastbound to Arthur Ave. Walking from the subway will take about 20 minutes. Alternatively, take the #2 train to Pelham Parkway and catch the BX 12 bus westbound.