Some people say New York’s real Little Italy is in The Bronx. That may be so, but living in the East Village makes it considerably less convenient than the Little Italy downtown.
Even so, when an event consultant with the Belmont DMA asked me to shoot photography of the street festival Ferragosto 2012, a huge and vibrant gathering in the Bronx’s Little Italy, I jumped at the chance to see a neighborhood with which I was previously unfamiliar. Plus, how could I turn down the opportunity to meet one of my favorite TV gangsters, Dominic Chinanese (“Uncle Junior” from The Sopranos), just one of the many well-known performers entertaining the packed festival?
After nearly 90 minutes on the F and D trains, I emerged on the Grand Concourse and headed East. Fordham Road is a lively shopping street full of bargains, pizza, and street vendors. Then I crossed a few quiet neighborhood blocks, and finally the sights and sounds of Ferragosto appeared: smoke from numerous golden pigs on spits and savory sausages on grills; performers in full Italian regalia entertaining a happy crowd that ranged from families with small children to elderly retirees in wheelchairs.
I liked the neighborhood enough that a week later my wife and I made the journey again, had clams at Umberto’s, and ended up at MichaelAngelo’s on 189th and Arthur Ave for dinner. They have a sprawling back room with spacious tables, trees and plants everywhere, several private rooms behind curtains, bountiful dishes and an attendant staff. All of our Italian food was delicious, and we’ll return someday.