Loop Food: If Orchids Make you Hungry in the Bronx



A beautiful Technicolor harbinger of spring, the annual Orchid Show, themed ‘Key West Contemporary’, has premiered at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and it will run thru April 21st. I look forward to visiting NYBG, walking thru the beautifully restored Enid Haupt Conservatory and beholding the seductive floral arrangements and dramatic plantings. (For additional info: www.nybg.org)  And after taking in all that beauty, we do get hungry. So where do we dine nearby? Here are a few suggestions…

Mario’s Restaurant, 2342 Arthur Ave., Bronx 718-584-1188

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   ‘the first lady of Arthur Ave.’ This restaurant has a long 95 year history full of colorful chapters. To many, the flavorful sauces and gravies produced in this kitchen are the stuff of Italian ‘foodie heaven’. And for those in the know, the old world menu also holds many surprises both written and unwritten. For starters enjoy the palate pleasing lagniappe of marinated carrots, hot peppers and good crusty Arthur Ave. bread. Great starters 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 insist, 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 valet parking. www.mariosrestarthurave.com

Don Coqui, 565 City Island Ave., Bronx 718-885-2222

Jimmy Rodriguez and his family have opened a sprawling new branch of their rhythmic Don Coqui on City Island and are now serving all day along with panoramic water views and a good dose of nightlife. At lunch the house offers a selection of reasonably priced salads and sandwiches to go along with their regular menu of Puerto Rican and Latin specialties, including: Hearts of Romaine Caesar Salad; DC Triplets with pork, chicken and steak; Steak & Onion Sandwich; Roasted Pork Sandwich; and BBQ Chicken Sandwich.  The nightlife schedule has also been updated. There is live Salsa entertainment and karaoke. Check ahead for details. Don’t forget $28 Mondays when patrons get 3 generous courses of food for this special price, including their popular appetizer platter for the whole table. Don Coqui is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week from noon. Starters: $6 to $19. Main courses: $15 to $34. Lunch: $6 to $28. Bar/lounge. Cocktail menu. Bottles. Live music, dancing. Take-out. On and off premise catering for all events. Major credit cards. Municipal and valet parking. Proper casual dress. Reservations accepted; advised for larger groups. Main Phone: 914-648-4848. Don Coqui, New Rochelle: 115 Cedar Street; White Plains, 107 Mamaroneck Ave. www.doncoqui.tv

Crosstown Diner, 2880 Bruckner Blvd. (at Tremont Ave.), Bronx 718-597-3450

Peter and Billy Tsibidis, the father and son team operating the flashy 138-seat Crosstown Diner along busy Bruckner Blvd. for over 30 years, are always ready to tuck you into one of their booths and serve up big portions of classic diner food that runs the gamut from breakfast all day and night to slider combos to heaping bowls of pasta, seafood platters, steaks and chops. Great big fresh made cakes, pies and pastries pull at your palate in their display case as soon as you enter.  It’s a good, friendly hideaway. A safe haven for the whole family that will satiate your hunger while leaving some change in your wallet. If you are planning an event at home or at the office their delivery service will bring it all right to you. Catering too. It’s easy and convenient. Open 7 days a week day and night; 24 hours Thursday-Saturday. www.crosstowndiner.com

Siena’s Trattoria, 708 Central Park Ave., Yonkers 914-372-7888

Just off the Major Deegan north of Empire City at Cross County, this restaurant serves robust Italian classics with delightful signature twists.  The owner has upgraded the décor and atmosphere in the bar/lounge and the cozy 45-seat dining room in the rear. Extraordinary house specialties coming out of this skillful kitchen are drawing a hungry crowd. Many of the ingredients that go into the menu are sourced from Arthur Ave.  There are lighter offerings for the health conscious as well. Opening deals include Family Style Sundays from 1 to 9 pm; and a $12.95 lunch served Mon-Sat. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week from noon; Sundays from 3 p.m. Lunch: $8.95 to $15.95. Dinner starters: $7.50 to $13. Pastas from: $15.95. Entrees: $16.95 to $29. Bar/lounge.  Full take-out and catering. Major credit cards. Local delivery. Free and valet parking. Smart casual dress. Reservations accepted. www.sienasitalian.com

Spring Asian Cuisine, 545 Gramatan Ave., Mt. Vernon 914-699-2828

Owner Charlie Kao serves a variety of creative fusion specialties from China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. Tasty selections from the menu include: Thai Tom Yam Soup; house Pu Pu Platter for two; Chicken or Beef with Satay Sauce; Taiwan style Crispy Jumbo Shrimp; Whole Flounder with vegetables; Vietnamese style Grilled Pork Chops; Malaysian Flat Rice Noodles; and Sesame Crusted Chilean Sea Bass with black bean sauce. Good Peking Duck too!  Take out and catering. Local delivery. Full sushi bar. Open 7 days a week. Municipal parking. Open 7 days. www.springasian.vpweb.com

(Morris Gut is a restaurant consultant and former restaurant trade magazine editor. He has been tracking and writing about the food and dining scene in greater Westchester for over 25 years. He may be reached at: 914-235-6591. E-mail: gutreactions@optonline.net)

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