Support Little Italy and Shop (and Social Distance) with a Purpose

Peter Madonia, chairman of the BID and owner of Madonia Bakery, 2348 Arthur Ave.
Photo Courtesy Belmont Business Improvement District

As COVID-19 has forced restaurants, malls, barbershops, nail salons and schools to shutter throughout the city; some businesses on Arthur Ave. remain open.

For New Yorkers who practice responsible social distancing and need to do their grocery shopping, Little Italy is welcoming customers and is home to many merchants who already provide takeaway, including bakeries, butchers, delis, pizzerias and specialty stores – in a neighborhood with plenty of open air and inventory.

Peter Madonia, chairman of the BID and owner of Madonia Bakery, 2348 Arthur Ave., spoke with the Bronx Times about how the area is a food resource for shopping and getting essentials.

“Our sidewalks are like our aisles,” he said. “People have to eat, so they’re going to shop somewhere. It’s not like we have lines out the door.”

Madonia explained that restaurants on Arthur Ave. survived the recession in 2008, 9/11, the swine flu and many other bad times, but never an epidemic like this.

Many of these eateries have been here for 80, 90 or 100 years and no one could have ever prepared for this or imagined a long term closure could happen. The worst part is people don’t know how long the doors will stay shuttered, he said.

“It doesn’t feel very good to have all those restaurants closed,” Madonia commented. “I think it’s going to be harder on the employees.”

With about 20 or so restaurants closed, he noted these are tough times for the whole community.

Right now many people are wondering how they are going to pay rent and the people that work at the restaurants rely on their paychecks to live.

He recalled that on 9/11 only Manhattan was affected, while this pandemic has sent shockwaves and fear throughout the country.

“The sense of realism and discomfort is similar,” he stated. “On 9/11 we knew the enemy. We think we know the enemy, but we can’t see it. No one knows the end game.”

While he urges people to come support the stores that are open and maintain social distancing, he acknowledged that many places on Arthur Ave. and throughout the borough may not reopen. When the dust settles who knows what will be standing, he said.

He noted that this may change how businesses operate long term.

“How am I going to keep my people working and what are the rules of the road,” Madonia said.

The Belmont Business Improvement District is also providing some simple recipes to create at home from the families and local businesses on Arthur Avenue, including bread, pasta, meat, fish, cookies and more.

  • Artuso Pastry – Pignoli Cookies
  • Mike’s Deli – Farfalle con funghi
  • Mike’s Deli – Rigatoni Melanzana
  • Borgatti’s – Manicotti

Vincent’s Meat Market – Italian sausage and bean casserole

  • Madonia Bakery – Pane di Casa
  • Mario’s Restaurant – Zucchini fritti
  • Randazzo’s Seafood – Red snapper with lemon










More from Around NYC