The five boroughs of New York collectively exude a sort of urban, culture forward, finessed character. As New Yorkers, we innately possess an attitude of hustle and bustle liveliness, multi-cultural diffusions, and city concentrated hospitality and its attached to every facet of our being.
However, as separate entities, the five boroughs, Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and The Bronx, are like five completely diverse members of a family, possessing their own attitudes, styles, and persuasions.
I, luckily, descend from the borough that originated the sound of Hip Hop, so please believe, The Bronx is a town of intense flavor. From the mid-Bronx Italian neighborhood to the uptown White Plains and Gun Hill roads, hubs of Caribbean cuisine, all throughout the heavily Latin influenced South Bronx, and then to the seafood mecca within the shores of City Island, The Bronx is truly budding with flavor.
And now, it is my sincere pleasure to share some of my favorite restaurants and eateries with the foodies and lovers reading this.
I’ve yet had the pleasure of the crossing the Atlantic to visit the exquisite country of Italy, but I would like to believe the combination of irresistible family recipes and the warm welcoming host and wait staff, are authentic and true to Italian flavor, cuisine, and hospitality.
Giovanni’s Restaurant is my absolute go-to restaurant in my hometown. There are two locations, a take-out kitchen which is conveniently positioned in the shopping area of Fordham Road, and the second is a dine-in diamond located on the Grand Concourse.
Both destinations boast traditional home cooked pasta, fresh seafood, fried calamari being my favorite, and a variety of coal oven pizzas, however, the Grand Concourse takes the cake in atmosphere, entertainment, and cocktail specialties.
On any given day, the elegant surroundings come alive with music either by the resident DJ or a live band. On weekends, come ready to partake in the most delectable spread from their champagne buffet brunch. And by all means, my greatest advice is to stroll through their dining room to the G Bar, that I can assure you, will not disappoint.
The white and red Sangrias are a taste of ecstasy, but that soaked fruit will definitely hit you. Their purple haze cocktail could put a Long Island ice tea to bed. And as a certified bartender myself, I will attest to every other drink on that menu as being absolutely superb.
Without a doubt, the Bronx is the most Latin influenced borough in the city and we’re proud of every bit of our makeup. My second suggestion, Havana Café, showcases the vibrancy and soul of the Cuban culture.
I’ll admit, the unlimited mimosa brunch on Saturdays and the unlimited Sangria follow up on Sunday are what drew my attendance (and kept it), but as soon as you happen upon the restaurant you are taken in by the ambiance.
Palm trees line their outdoor side bar dining, bongo drums, maracas, and brass accompany strong soulful vocals, and the incredible aroma of home cooked sustenance is all a part of the Havana Café experience. As a Bronx native, I’ve helped myself to numerous Latin flavored plantain dishes, however, the Mofongo from this restaurant is certainly something to rave about.
On the brunch menu, I would suggest the Havana omelet, and if you can handle a bit of spice, the Cazuela is pretty much to die for. Last but not least, you can’t go to a Cuban inspired restaurant, and not try a traditional Cubano sandwich.
My final choice is an eatery that exudes the most Bronx pride and vibes thus far. Located in the Mott Haven section, Charlie’s Bar & Kitchen is alive in the midst of artist, young professionals and what is sure to become The Bronx’s premier food district.
Inside the restaurant, musical legends line the walls and bricks and steel columns provide an industrial finish. Their full bar serves draft beers, some of which are brewed locally right in the Bronx, wine, and some pretty interesting specialty drinks.
The cuisine makeup is New American which is a fusion of traditional American dishes and foreign elements, in order to capitalize on the relationship between food and culture.
However, my favorite aspect of the menu is their selection of southern style soul food. My best friend and I were lucky enough to stumble in on the first Saturday and caught the Hip Hop Brunch.
DJ Menyu spun the best of the 90’s summer classics while we enjoyed an hour and a half choice of unlimited mimosa, Bellini, greyhounds or screwdrivers. I ordered the Shrimp and Grits from the large plates, and let me tell you, it was the best Shrimp and Grits I’ve ever had (sorry Mommy).
My best friend ordered the French Toast from the small plate selection and was feeling generous. I kind of wished it was a large plate because it was absolutely delectable and I wanted more.
For sure, I’m a tad biased when it comes to branding one of the boroughs the better of them all, but I would never tarnish my taste buds reputation.
I guarantee these three locations could satisfy the toughest food critic’s palate and maybe even impress a grandmother or two. The next time you come to my town, check these places out, and you might even leave with a bit of flavor.