People come to Arthur Avenue to stock up. On a recent Saturday afternoon, I stood outside Vincent’s Meat Market with Danielle Oteri, who leads tours of the neighborhood with her husband Christian Galliani. The window of Vincent’s is decked with fat Boston butts and whole sides of pork. Customers stream in and out carrying hefty shopping bags. Danielle knows the Saturday rush well—she grew up at Vincent’s, back when it was called Oteri’s Meat Market. Her great-grandfather opened a baccala store on Arthur Avenue in the 1920s, which her uncle later converted to a butcher shop. Christian also has childhood ties to the neighborhood; he remembers Arthur Avenue shopping trips with his Italian and Argentine parents.
An Italian enclave since the 1890s, the Arthur Avenue neighborhood has remained a culinary and cultural hub for Italian Americans throughout the region. Many of the bakeries, cheese shops and grocery stores have been open for more than 100 years, and some are still owned and operated by the original families.
Danielle and Christian have been leading private food tours of Arthur Avenue on an intermittent basis for the last four years. Starting March 1, they will offer their tour five days a week in partnership with Urban Adventures. An art historian and sommelier, respectively, Danielle and Christian also lead tours on art, food, and wine in the Campania region of Southern Italy through their company Feast on History.
Molly Jean Bennett is a writer and multimedia producer based in New York City. Her essays, poems, and strongly worded letters have appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Atlas Obscura, VICE, and elsewhere.