Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx is often billed as the "Little Italy of the Bronx" and some even think of it as their little secret. Although the neighborhood is constantly getting more and more Balkan, with Albanian shops growing in number, the Italian-American roots are still strong just like in Manhattan's version. Tours bring patrons up and down the street as well, giving the whole place a very touristy vibe.
The Arthur Avenue Retail Market, site of Café al Mercato, is a prime spot on these tours, and it is hard to visit for lunch without a group of 20 or so gawking at your sandwich. The café's section is clearly marked off exclusively for their customers, so it sort of becomes a bit zoo-like once you sit down. However when the tours are not passing, the market is quite fun to sit in the middle of, and still gets loads of local patrons who have probably been coming here since the 1930's when it opened. It now even boasts a small beer bar.
Those aforementioned gawked at sandwiches on focaccia are pretty well known here, and have accordingly risen in price. The Italian number below costs a swift $8 for a nice quarter wedge of the full moon. It is tasty to be sure, and comes with a bit of pasta on the side to fill out the plate.
In my estimation, better deals are to be had with the delicious slices of pizza. My eggplant slice ($3.50, below) was thick and filling, warmed up in the over before arriving at my table. The next time I find my way back here I will be sure to nose my way through their other slice selections. They do pizza very well.