11 BRONX WEEKLY February 23, 2020 www.BXTimes.com
Single mom of fi ve runs popular Arthur Ave. restaurant
BY JASON COHEN
Maria Di Rende grew up in
Belmont, but never in her wildest
dreams imagined she would one
day be operating her own restaurant.
Today, the mom of fi ve daughters
runs Enzo’s at 2339 Arthur Avenue
in Little Italy.
With March being Women’s
History Month, the Bronx Times
convinced Di Rende to remove her
apron and chat with us about her
She and her late husband, Enzo
opened the eatery in 2005, as a café
with 40 seats. But three years ago
the husband and wife team expanded
it and has now grown it to
be one of the most popular restaurants
on Arthur Avenue, seating
Enzo’s is oftentimes listed in
‘Where to Dine’ guides for those
visiting Little Italy in the Bronx.
“I defi nitely feel proud, especially
proud for my husband because
this was his vision,” Di
The food business is in her
blood. Her father Nick owns Calabria
Pork Store at 2338 Arthur
Avenue and Enzo’s father owned a
local shop as well.
Her family has been in Belmont
many years. Her grandparents
lived in the apartment building
that is attached to the restaurant
and Enzo’s original kitchen was
once Di Rende’s great-grandmother’s
She got married young - at 19.
While she stayed home and took
care of the kids, Enzo attended
the Culinary Institute of America.
After mastering his craft, the duo
eventually opened the restaurant.
“My husband had the vision
of wanting to have people come to
eat,” she said.
Over the years, it became a
popular place in the neighborhood,
well known for its classic Italian
dishes and ingredients from their
red sauce to pork chops to their
fried meatballs with hot peppers
Sadly, a year after the restaurant
expanded her husband passed away
from prostate cancer.
Suddenly, she was left a widow,
with fi ve kids to raise and a business
She didn’t have her husband’s
culinary background so juggling
the responsibilities of running Enzo’s
and her home life was not easy
at fi rst.
“It’s hard, but I have a lot of support,”
she said. “I do it be because
it’s the right thing to do.”
According to Di Rende, the biggest
adjustment was learning the ins
and outs of the kitchen. She needed
to understand what to order and
how much and how to communicate
with the chefs.
Seating and greeting people is
one thing, but managing the kitchen
is whole other ballgame, she emphasized.
But, more importantly, her staff
has really been helpful. Through
perseverence the staff has successfully
maintained her late husband
“It starts from inside our place,”
she remarked. “We’re like family
While it’s been tough to balance
being a single mom and running a
restaurant, she is doing her best. She
still tries to cook the traditional family
dinner every Sunday afternoon.
“It’s my way of life,” she commented.
“I do it for my kids. In a way
it’s like my kids lost both of their
Enzo’s on Arthur Ave., which is run by Maria Di Rende.
Photo Courtesy Belmont Business Improvement District
Maria Di Rende, owner of Enzo’s on Arthur
Photo Courtesy Belmont Business
MP’s Frank Smith named ‘2019 Doorman to the Year’
BY KYLE VUILLE
“Please call me a cab!”
A Manhattan doorman recently
received his profession’s top accolade
for attending to his tenants’
“I’m just a regular Irish-American
guy from the Bronx who kept
his act clean, always goes to work
early and always stays late,” Frank
Smith said while chatting from his
Morris Park home.
But, Smith is not as ‘regular’ as
he says he is.
Smith was named ‘Doorman
of the Year’ for 2019 by his union,
Building Services 32BJ.
During his career on Central
Park West he has catered to celebrities
like Lorne Michaels of Saturday
Night Live, Robert DeNiro, Paul Simon
and Sting from The Police.
However, Smith is still very
much a Bronx guy - still living in his
childhood home of 64 years alongside
his wife, Mila.
He attended Our Lady of Solace
grammar school and graduated
from St. Helena’s Business school
“The nuns really made me a
straight arrow,” Smith said. “I wish
they could see what the dyslexic student
they once had has achieved.”
After completing high school,
Smith dove right into several different
careers, working in the banking
and advertising fi elds for several
years before co-managing an employment
agency for a while.
Soon after he started his stint as
‘Frank the Doorman.’
The job that would defi ne his
work ethic practically fell into his
I remember getting off the train
one day, and my friend told me about
the job. I went in for the interview,
and I got the job on the spot,” Smith
Smith said besides being the
‘Doorman to the Stars’ in the Upper
West Side, he still is an everyday
commuter who catches the express
bus for his afternoon shift.
He said being from the Bronx, he
paid his dues in his younger years
earning a certain alertness critical
to his job.
He also believes his low profi le
lifestyle without social media makes
him the right man for the job.
“I can see three blocks out in either
direction from (my building’s)
door,” Smith said. “I stand there
and make sure no one punches Paul
Simon in the face or steals one of
Smith said the payoff for him
is the reciprocal treatment he gets
from his tenants. His relationship
with Michaels has gotten him tickets
to the SNL show for the past 26
He added during the 2009 presidential
campaign, he saw Michaels
and actress/comedian Tina Fey
walk through the building, and
mentioned to Michaels that Fey was
a dead ringer for then vice presidential
candidate, Sarah Palin.
According to Smith, the two (Michaels
and Fey) also saw DeNiro in
passing the same day and DeNiro
seconded Frank ’s observation.
Smith fancies himself as an entertainer
as well, with a passion for
oldies and DJ’ing the occasional
party with a collection of over eight
thousand 45 singles. He also does comedic
bits on a local radio show as
s he nears retirement in two
years, Smith said he plans to continue
his ventures as a radio personality
and spending a great deal
of time with his beloved wife.
Frank was selected for the honor
by the union’s delegates. based on
his punctuality, lenghth of service,
and feedback from the building’s
management fi rm and the tenants
Frank Smith poses with actress/comedian
Tina Fey. Smith has had the opportunity
to meet the entire SNL cast
members over the years because of
his relationship with Lorne Michaels.
Photo courtesy of Frank Smith
Frank Smith and famous musician Sting from the band The Police. Sting is one of
the tenants at the building Smith works at. Photo courtesy of Frank Smith