For years I have heard of the magic of Arthur Avenue, the history, the authenticity, the legacy, but I never experienced it firsthand…until very recently. Last week I suited up (stretchy waistband included), hopped on Metro North to the Botanical Gardens and shuttled to East 187th street to begin the Bronx Little Italy (@BXLittleItaly) experience. With one of my Italian “food crew,” Jamie, in tow, we were here for all of it!

Our first stop on this tour was the 40+ year-strong Joe’s Italian Deli (685 East 187th Street, 718.367.7979, to watch fresh buffalo mozzarella being made and to hear more about this family-owned business. The shelves were impeccably stocked with Italian goods and the prepared foods ready to be consumed all amongst hanging cured meats and cheeses.

The lesson began by the spirited employee Joe showing us how he turns raw curd into gorgeous, lush and satiny fresh mozzarella. First warm water is used to heat up the curds. Once the curds are warm, the liquid is strained, salted and reserved. Then, new hot water is added to the warm curd and the curd is massaged and stretched until it is ready to be formed into balls, big and small.

We of course got to taste this fresh mozzarella after with their salami and prosciutto. Jamie was so smitten she bought some and I have made a vow to return to get one or more of their heroes, specifically the Italian Combo with ham, sopressata, provolone and roasted peppers.

With our mind fully blown at Joe’s, our caravan moved down the street to the 107 year old Edigio Pastry Shop (622 East 187th Street, 718.295.6077, where current proprietor Maria Carmela Lucciola greeted us with her big smile and warm spirit. She gave us some history of the place, a sample of hazelnut biscotti and some righteous cappuccino to wash it down.

Just when I thought our time at Edigio was over, Maria led us to the kitchen, with its intoxicating sweet smell, to make my absolute favorite Italian dessert, cannoli. Donned in hairnets, plastic aprons and gloves, we rolled the dough around dowels, put them in the fryer and even filled the shells with the whipped ricotta and chocolate chip filling.

I left Edigio with my cappuccino in hand and one of their sfogliatella (pka lobster tail) pastries to consume later. I hope Maria continues the Edigio family legacy for years to come.

So mozzarella making and cannoli making are in the bag. We took a left on Arthur Avenue and it was on to pizza, pork and pasta. Stay tuned for Part II…

Happy eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 15 years. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc, and her blog, Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback?  Invitations!  Email AmNewsFOOD at Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!