après train show dining

The glittering annual Holiday Train Show is on track through January 21, 2019 at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. It’s a real seasonal treat – a must for the young and the young at heart. I look forward to visiting and walking through the beautifully restored Enid Haupt Conservatory and seeing the seductive floral arrangements and dramatic plantings.  After taking in all that beauty, we do get hungry. Here are easy-to-reach suggestions…

Arthur Ave. is just a stone’s throw from the Garden. Since 1919, five generations of the Migliucci family have worked the front and back of the house making sure patrons are well served at this venerable ‘Little Italy’ institution. Amiable Joe Migliucci, the current patriarch, is there with his wife Barbara, daughter Regina and sons Michael and Mario. Joe’s mom, Mama Rose Migliucci, was considered to be ‘the first lady of Arthur Ave.’ This restaurant has a long 99-year history full of colorful chapters. For starters, enjoy the palate pleasing lagniappe of marinated carrots, hot peppers and good crusty Arthur Avenue bread. Great appetizers include: spiedini alla Romana, skewered deep-fried mozzarella sandwiches; stuffed artichoke; or the pulpo salad. Move on to such specialties as: penne rustica with sausage; stuffed braciola Napolitana; osso buco the size of Mt. Vesuvious; or the traditional tripe a la Livornese. Special Hint: If you ask, the house will prepare one of its famous Neapolitan pizzas, or the ultimate fresh calzone (not on the menu). They are truly among the best! Open Tuesday thru Sunday. Private party facilities. Free parking lot and valet service. www.mariosrestarthurave.com; 718-584-1188

I have been impressed with the great food, fine wines and hospitality at cozy Ernie’s Wine Bar & Eats in Bronxville. Out of Ernie’s tiny kitchen come laudatory renditions of American/global dishes bursting with flavor. Oenophiles, take note. The carefully selected wines served here, many from small-batch independent producers, can be heavenly. Unwind, take in some music on special nights, and indulge. The small bar is great for networking, too. Recent food tastings here have included Luisanna’s amazing meatballs, cheese and charcuterie platter, duck wontons, duck confit, a wonderful fettuccine Carbonara; mushroom and pea risotto, and baked cod with Vierge sauce. There is live entertainment. Check ahead for updates. Open Monday thru Saturday for happy hour and dinner. www.ernieswinebar.com; 914-652-7859

Owner Spiros Chagares and his staff offer patrons an inspired melding of traditional and contemporary dishes served with flair. Sit back in one of several dining areas and enjoy such changing specialties as: hearty seafood chowder; smoked salmon roll-ups; wood-grilled jumbo shrimp and scallops; hunks of tender short rib; a massive zuppa di pesce; tender oven roasted rack of lamb; Chardonnay poached salmon with seafood; and fresh lobster prepared in a variety of styles. Big combo platters. There’s a loaded lobster salad roll at lunch and their Mediterranean style pizzas are good to share, too. A variety of craft beers are on hand.  Private party facilities. Open 7 days. Free parking. www.artiescityisland.com; 718-885-9885

There is a new ownership who know how to combine the best comfort foods with craft brews. Located inside a renovated 1906 powerhouse Metro-North building. Growlers, founded in 2011, serves an ever-changing roster of international craft brews in a rustic 65- seat industrial space with concrete floors, grey-wood walls, and steel girders. There is a busy cocktail bar, communal tables and a rear room with banquette seating. On occasion, you can hear the railroad whistle its way past. There are 20 taps on hand, and servers who are knowledgeable about their product. Wines and specialty cocktails are also available. Great starters include: New York style fresh baked pretzel served with choice of dipping sauces; hot artichoke spread, served with bread crisps; and chicken satay. Burgers and sandwiches are always on hand: turkey Reuben, on toasted rye, Dijon mustard, Swiss, sauerkraut and Russian dressing; Growlers beef burger with choice of toppings, served on brioche roll; and veggie burger, spicy bean-based burger with tzatziki, lettuce, tomato and red onion on toasted brioche roll. Happy Hours: 4-7 p.m. www.growlersbeerbistro.com; 914-793-0608

You can debate about your favorite pizza joints: Louie & Ernie’s, Bronx; Sal’s, Mamaroneck; Johnny’s, Mt. Vernon; Cole’s, Bronxville; even Frank Pepe’s in New Haven. I submit that the Pelham Pizzeria is right up the with the best of them! One of the most popular pizza shops in the area, Pelham Pizzeria & Ristorante, has been marking a 40th Anniversary in bustling Pelham, with a classic Italian-American menu and first-rate pizza specialties. The menu runs the gamut of popular dishes at reasonable prices for eat-in or take-out: hot appetizers, soups, fresh crisp salads, hot and cold wedges, pastas, lunch and dinner entrees, and of course, specialty pizzas galore. The display case at the counter beckons with its fresh baked pizzas by the slice: sausage pie with the house signature lumps of tasty sausage; spicy crush slice; spinach pie, white pizza, and chicken cutlet pie. Many of the classic Italian-American red-sauce favorites are here: veal, chicken, shrimp or eggplant Parmigiana; homemade lasagna; baked manicotti; veal or chicken Francese; shrimp scampi; veal Marsala; and hearty grilled chicken with broccoli rabe and potatoes. Portions are very generous. www.pelhampizzeria.com; 914-738-7554

Located inside the historic Arthur Avenue Retail Market, not far from Fordham University, the Bronx Beer Hall is a good place to hang for good locally sourced sandwiches and craft beers. Mike’s Deli just down the aisle coordinates some of the food service with the bar and it is good, hearty Italian. The beers are from all over the map. Good spot for mingling and networking. Entertainment schedule. Open 7 days. Bronx Beer Hall, 2344 Arthur Ave., Bronx 1-347-396-0555 www.bronxbeerhall.com

Ever since restaurant rock star Stephen Starr took over the food service concessions at NYBG, hungry visitors have been taking note. Starr made a big name for himself in Philadelphia where he owns several power house restaurants including his retro Continental. He is also represented in Atlantic City at Buddakan, and in Washington, D.C. at the hot new Le Diplomate, where we enjoyed a wonderful French brasserie brunch recently. He has  themed dining pavilions throughout the park and near the Enid Haupt Pavilion: the casual Pine Tree Café and Hudson Garden Grill. Open daily. Early dining is recommended since they keep Garden hours to 6 pm most days; to 10:30 p.m. on dates as noted. For info: Starr Events: 646-627-7711, or 718-817-8700

Latest posts by Morris Gut (see all)