Monday, December 10, 2012

Mario’s: Supping with the Sopranos

Amongst the countless gelato places, cafés, bakeries, ristorantes, and pizzerias of Little Italy in the Bronx, there is one restaurant whose food, service and history stands far above their esteemed competition: Mario’s!

Since 1919, five generations of the Migliucci family have served authentic Neapolitan food at Mario’s in the Bronx’s Little Italy; an amazing neighborhood, which stretches across East 187th Street from Arthur Avenue to Prospect Avenue, known for its wonderful Italian and Albanian fare.

Mario’s is a large restaurant with ample floor space and exposed brick trim along the walls, which are covered with oil paintings, photographs of celebrity clientele, newspaper reviews, and culinary awards.  Despite its size, Mario’s is warm and cozy. 

The night I visited, Mario’s was full of families laughing, clicking wine glasses and enjoying themselves.  To my right was an older Italian couple, the husband-who I am pretty sure was the inspiration for Tony Soprano-was a heavy set with a receding hair line, guido accent and  boisterous personality.  His wife had huge hair, the same accent, and wore enough make up to compete on Rupaul’s Drag Race.

My neighbors and I shared the same server, who was attentive, friendly and quick.  I noticed he treated my neighbors with the utmost care and respect. He referred to “Tony” as sir and made sure to get everything he ordered as fast as could. 

Mario’s menu is divided into the following categories: Soups, Salads, Appetizers, Pasta, Cheeses, Seafood, and Entrees.  For more information on the menu go to:

As I contemplated the appetizers, Tony and his wife were arguing over which appetizer to share.  He wanted the the Eggplant Sciliana (eggplant baked with a marinara sauce with capers, olives, garlic and  pieces of toasted bread) and she wanted the Fresh Mozzarella Coprese (a salad made up of slices of mozarella cheese with tomatoes and fresh basil) with wine.

After a loud and animated argument (with a lot of f-bombs thrown around), they decided not to share and each ordered whatever they wanted.  Tony’s argument in favor of the Eggplant Sciliana might not have convinced his wife to order it, but it did me.

He was right, the Eggplant Sciliana was delicious!  The eggplant was soft and baked to perfection. The sauce, seasoned with garlic and oregano, was hearty and delicious.  The capers and olives gave the dish a wonderful kick of salt and the toasted pieces of bread added a delightful crunchy texture.

As I ate, I decided to take out my camera and take a picture of my eggplant.  Tony must have seen the flash from the corner of his eye and thought that I had taken his picture. Immediately, he confronted me, demanding to know why I had taken his picture.  I saw my life flash before my eyes and almost lost bowel control. Before I could explain (and beg for mercy), his wife, who had seen what I had done, explained and told him to apologize.

He begrudgingly apologized and explained he didn’t like his picture being taken. As a friendly gesture, he asked me what I thought of the Eggplant Sciliana and I told him it was wonderful. He turned to his wife and told her they should’ve ordered the eggplant for two.  She gave me an annoyed, yet comical look and I smiled back. Thank God for his wife! If she hadn’t spoken up, I am pretty sure I would’ve been found floating face down in the Bronx River the next morning.

Happy to be alive, I looked over the Entrée and Steaks/chops sections of the menu and couldn’t decide between the Veal Cutlet a la Parmigiana, Veal Scaloppine a la Pizzaiola with mushrooms (thinly sliced cuts of veal cooked in tomato sauce with mushrooms), or Steak à la Pizzaiola with mushrooms (steak cooked in tomato sauce with mushrooms).  I chose the Veal Scaloppine a la Pizzaiola with mushrooms and ordered it with the pasta; all of Mario’s entrees are served with vegetables, pasta with tomato sauce or potato croquette.

The veal cutlets were moist, soft and delicious. The tomato sauce with mushrooms was excellent; it was seasoned with basil, oregano,  garlic and had diced roasted tomatoes, which added a wonderful sweetness to the dish.  The mushrooms were plump, juicy and had a rich earthy flavor.  The Ziti side dish was aldente and perfectly complemented the meal.

As I ate my dinner, Tony and his wife talked about their children, the people who owed them money, and some poor guy named Guiseppe who “was going to get what he deserved.”  Hearing a vague, yet terrifying, statement like that might’ve taken someone else’s appetite away, but my dinner was too good to let a possible death threat ruin my meal.

Mario’s dessert menu is simple and features: Tiramisu, Molten Lava cake, and Old Fashioned Plain Cheese Cake.  As delicious, as it all sounded I skipped dessert and asked my server for the check.  Tony’s wife asked me why I hadn’t ordered any dessert and I explained that I’m diabetic and had eaten enough carbohydrates.  Tony advised me not to eat so much next time and to order the tiramisu, because it was  “friggin’” delicious.  It was both a suggestion and order, to which  I responded, “Yes, sir, I will.”

I don’t know for sure if Tony was a “goodfella” or not, but I am certain that Mario’s food, service and ambiance are exceptional.  So if you’re looking for amazing Italian cuisine, head to the Bronx’s Little Italy and visit Mario’s.  It’s friggin’ awesome! Go taste for yourself! ¡Buen provecho, or as our Italian family might say, Buon appetito!

Mario's Restaurant 
2342 Arthur Ave. 
Bronx,  NY  10458 

HOURS:  See website!

ATMOSPHERE:  Friendly, fun and joyful.

SERVICE: Excellent.

SOUND LEVEL: Conversational.



BEVERAGES:  A fine selection of imported and domestic wines to choose from their wine list. Cocktails, Liquors, Beers, and Soda.

PRICE RANGE:  Moderate ($15-$30)


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. They seem to drench everything in sauce (red flag), no pun intended.
    Was the food really fresh?