The Spirit of Brunch Takes Little Italy


Pete’s Cafe is located on the corner of Fordham Road and Hoffman Street. (Samuel Joseph/ The Ram)

Pete’s Cafe is located on the corner of Fordham Road and Hoffman Street. (Samuel Joseph/ The Ram)
Pete’s Cafe is located on the corner of Fordham Road and Hoffman Street. (Samuel Joseph/ The Ram)

By John Shelly

A recent article in the New York Post covered the brunch trend among upscale New York restaurants. Once looked down upon by the culinary elite as a vulgar guise for the disposing of leftovers, cutting edge chefs are beginning to challenge those suspicious of brunch by redefining what its cuisine can entail. Not least among novel brunch dishes being prepared in high end kitchens throughout the citys are lobster benedict, smoked salmon buns and tomato and egg bruschetta. Individual chefs are offering their personal spin on traditional brunch fare and shaping an emerging brunch culture among New Yorkers.

It is not just sophisticated Manhattanites looking for new ways to spend money who are hopping on the brunch bandwagon; the meal is beginning to gain popularity among college students throughout the country as well. The loosely defined nature of brunch, which can be eaten anytime between about 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., makes it perfect for weekends, as it allows students to sleep in after a night out. One could argue that “brunch” for college students is a pretentious way to label eating breakfast food at lunchtime, but I beg to differ. Traditional breakfast food is the staple of the meal, yes, but brunch has a special significance to many college students.

Grabbing Sunday brunch provides the perfect opportunity for friends to meet up, reminisce about the previous evening, decide which picture from the pre-game to Instagram and snack on some tasty comfort food. The unique atmosphere the meal creates, and not the food actually eaten, is at the heart of brunch.

“I’m really into brunch at the moment, especially on weekends,” said Rachel Lemmings, FCRH ’14. “I usually stay out pretty late on Friday and Saturday, so it’s nice to be able to sleep in the next morning and grab a casual brunch with the girls. It’s a nice time to get together and chat about the night before. The mood is very laid-back.”

Where is the ideal place for a Fordham student to grab brunch? Little Italy and the neighborhoods surrounding Fordham are better known for their eclectic array of ethnic cuisine, but a few establishments are well-suited for a weekend brunch. The first one that comes to mind, and the only real diner near Fordham, is Pete’s Cafe. The prices are very reasonable and the service is quick, even though there are usually a fair amount of customers. Their omelettes and pancakes are a must, but I would not recommend any of the baked goods. Since Pete’s Cafe functions like a diner and is good for groups, it is a prime place to have a quick brunch with friends on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

Simon’s is always an option, and many students swear by its sandwiches. While it is better known for its lunch and dinner dishes, the restaurant offers an impressive breakfast menu as well. Its bagels are fantastic and its pancakes are not bad either. While Simon’s offers breakfast all day and serves great coffee, it does not have many places to sit. Unless students stake out one of the two tables early, they are better off getting brunch to go.

Many of the on-campus eateries offer adequate brunch possibilities as well. Fordham students looking for the best on-campus locale to grab brunch may be tempted by Cosi’s breakfast meal swipe. I would advise against it, mostly because I consider the concept of a square bagel to be a crime against nature. I would argue that a student’s best bet on brunch is the cafeteria. While it may not serve poached eggs dressed in hollandaise sauce, it serves many fine substitutes on weekends.

The omelette bar has a fantastic selection of toppings, missing only maybe crushed Advil. On weekends they usually have chocolate chip muffins, which are delectable. The mini-donuts are always tempting, and you can never go wrong with granola and yogurt. The coffee is bad, but since it is brunch and not breakfast, feel free to wash your food down with a glass of Diet Coke instead. The fruit selection is admittedly a little lame and never includes any kind of berry, which is the ultimate brunch fruit, but the salad bar is respectable; I recommend the spinach. I generally avoid anything on the hot plates, but the pancakes are delicious.

Whether in Manhattan, N.Y., Little Italy in the Bronx, N.Y., or right on Fordham’s campus, there are a variety of great options for brunch for students to enjoy over the weekend.