Once again Time Out New York released their Top 100 Dishes of the year and once again, I’m going to eat my way through every one. And no price point or subway delay will stop me. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100.

If this blog were written in the 19th Century, one of the first iconic dishes I’d have had to explore would have been oysters. I would have gone to seafood restaurants, but also to markets and pushcarts to try the local oysters. Before pollution and over harvesting killed them all off, they were everywhere – the food of the masses (rich and poor). Why do you think the Grand Central Oyster Bar is so ubiquitous to New York?

So eating oysters from a stand outside a fish market on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, really felt like we were experiencing a slice of old New York. This is the way people would have eaten oysters back in the day. Fortunately for us, the oysters they were serving at Cozenza’s hadn’t just come from New York Harbor, but it was the experience that took us back.

They were serving semi-local Blue Point oysters (from Long Island), in addition to Delaware Bay, Beau Soleil (New Brunswick), Glidden Point (Maine), and Kumamoto (Washington) oysters. On another table, they had raw clams and shrimp cocktails. The ramshackle counters also had some disorganized hot sauces and vinegars to choose from.

We finally got one of the shucker’s attention and he began opening up a variety of the oysters for us. They were on a bed of quickly melting ice (it was a brutally hot Saturday afternoon) and he served them with a hunk of lemon on a cute little lobster plate. No fancy presentation here – just oysters.

The price of each oyster ranged from $1 to $2.50. And we had 10 oysters for about $17, which is a pretty reasonable price. The oysters tasted fresh for the most part, but some weren’t as cold as I like. The melting ice concerned me a bit. My favorites were the Glidden Point (which was surprisingly the cheapest). They had a briny, melony flavor and I liked how plump they were. The kumamotos and Blue Point are always reliable and they didn’t disappoint. But the others were slightly bland and not as intensely flavorful as I expect from oysters. I’m more of a west coast oyster guy.

I find it strange that this made Time Out’s list. I can only guess it’s the experience that made this Top 100 material. Aside from the presentation (which was cute but not terribly attractive) and oyster selection (which wasn’t terribly exotic), I can’t give Cosenza’s too much credit for how good or bland the oysters taste.

But that experience does count for something. Eating oysters from an outdoor stand is a pretty unique experience (especially for modern day New York). If I find myself among the tourists on Arthur Avenue again, I’ll definitely swing by for a bivalve at Cosenza’s. I wonder how they would have rated on my much ahead of its time 19th Century blog.

Would Cosenza’s Fish Market’s Oysters make my Top 100 of the Year? The oysters themselves were good, but far from the best I’ve ever had. The experience at Cosenza’s, however, are what give this item a 7 out of 10 and that’s what I’ll be talking about for years to come.

COSENZA’S FISH MARKET
2354 Arthur Avenue (between Crescent Avenue and East 186th Street)
(718) 364-8510
Belmont, Bronx
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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