Tag Archives: bakery

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: La Bella Ferrara

Periodically, there’s an article about how Little Italy is dead or dying. Yes, it’s more of a tourist destination and less of a neighborhood where Italian people live. There are still some Italians there, and there are Italian-American-owned businesses there. A recent article in the New York Times made me want to write a series on Little Italy Isn’t Dead and feature some of the businesses there.

La Bella Ferrara

Opened in 1970 by Sicilian immigrants Frank and Nick Angileri, La Bella Ferrara is an old-school Italian bakery. The smell of freshly baked Italian cookies greets you as you open the door. I’ve tried so many cookies and pastries here and have never been disappointed.

Advertisements

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Caffe Roma

Periodically, there’s an article about how Little Italy is dead or dying. Yes, it’s more of a tourist destination and less of a neighborhood where Italian people live. There are still some Italians there, and there are Italian-American-owned businesses there. A recent article in the New York Times made me want to write a series on Little Italy Isn’t Dead and feature some of the businesses there.

Caffe Roma

Caffe Roma was formerly Caffe Ronca, opened by Italian immigrant Pasquale Ronca in 1891 and run with his brother Giovanni who came to NYC a year later.  It was a hangout for NYC’s literati–writers, artists, musicians, actors.  Pasquale would go on to be impresario for Italian songs for the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  In 1952, Vincento Zeccardi, an immigrant and former church ceiling painter, bought it, and it is still in his family today.  

 

Dina’s Guide to NYC Old World Bakeries

I love old world bakeries.  Whenever I visit a new city, I always look for old bakeries.  I don’t care if they look dirty or grungy from the outside, or if they have outdated signs out front.  Those signs are a sure “sign” that deliciousness awaits me inside. I feel good that I am supporting a family and the local economy as well as eating something that was made with pride and craft.  So if you are visiting NYC or if you live here, when you eat at most of the bakeries on this list, you are supporting local families and businesses that represent the history and culture of this diverse city.

In this list, I’ve tried to include all old world bakeries in Manhattan.  If I missed one, by all means, tell me about it because I’d love to go there.  (I’m focusing on the more “touristy” part of Manhattan.  This list doesn’t include Mexican or Dominican bakeries in Upper Manhattan, such as Bakery el Panadero, Capri, De Colores Bakery, Dyckman’s, D’Lillian’s, El Barrio, El Manantial, El Nazareno, Esmeraldo’s, Floridita, Grinis, Kenny Bakery, Las Americas, Mi Querido Mexico Lindo or Sweet Life Bakery.  It also doesn’t include kosher bakery Gideon’s, Hungarian Pastry Shop, Asian bakery In & Out or Ethiopian Injera Bakery.  Sounds like a bakery tour of Upper Manhattan is in order!)

I’ve written about Italian bakeries in Manhattan before in Dina’s Guide to NYC Italian Bakeries.  My favorite bakeries are old school and traditional German, Jewish and Italian ones.  There is only one German bakery and only one Jewish bakery left in Manhattan.  (As far as I know–please tell me if there are more.  There are other places to get German and Jewish baked goods, ex. Zabar’s, but not other old school bakeries.  East Broadway Kosher on Grand near Kossar’s closed, but I’m not sure if it reopened?  Last time I was there, it was closed.)  In this list I’m including bakeries that have sweet bakery items.  Following that is a list of specialty old world bakeries that make bread, knishes, bialys etc.  Many of these places are cash only, so go prepared.

moishes

Moishe’sLower East Side, Grand Street at East Broadway, and East Village, 2nd Avenue at 7th Street, Moishe’s is my favorite bakery in the city–the quintessential bakery.  I am addicted to Moishe’s.  The best hamentaschen, the best black and white cookies, the best rainbow cookies.  I’ve never had anything here that wasn’t delicious.  It’s no frills with graffiti on the window, but who cares?  I’m here for the cookies, not the decor.  They do have a new sign out front, but I’m keeping this photo of the old one.  I’ve sung the praises of Moishe’s many times. 

Poseidon Bakery

PoseidonHell’s Kitchen, 9th Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets, At 90 years old, Poseidon is still family owned and the only Greek bakery in Manhattan, and one of the last businesses in what used to be a Greek neighborhood.  Here, you can get delicious Greek goodies like baklava and cookies.  The handmade phyllo dough strudels are a must-get.  I’ve written about Poseidon before.

Glaser's

Glaser’s Bake ShopYorkville, Upper East Side, 1st Avenue at 87th Street, Family-owned since 1902, Glaser’s is the only German bakery in Manhattan in what used to be a German neighborhood.  It still turns out amazing crumb cake, jelly doughnuts and danishes.  However, it also makes American favorites like brownies too.  This is an old school bakery at its best.  Check out the beautiful wood interior and tile floor.  I’ve written about Glaser’s before.

2012-07-23_13-31-08_136

La DeliceKips Bay, 3rd Avenue at 27th Street, La Delice is an old school bakery with a variety of classic baked goods and beautiful cakes.  They have many colorful macarons.

Andre’s HungarianMidtown East, 1st Avenue at 57th Street and Upper East Side, 2nd Avenue at 85th Street, Andre’s is the place to go for traditional, handmade strudel and other Hungarian pastries and gorgeous cakes.

Ferrara2

FerraraLittle Italy, Grand Street at Mulberry,  Ferrara, a legendary Italian pastry shop, opened in 1892 by Enrico Scoppa and Antonio Ferrara.  The fifth-generation pastry shop gained fame when Enrico Caruso became a regular.   Ferrara’s became well-known for its cannoli and torrone.  Talk about being a kid in a candy store.  I take one look at the glass case of glistening glazed fruit atop an array of pastries in a myriad of colors, and I’m mesmerized.  The pastry case at Ferrara’s is a work of art.  When I talk to people who’ve never been to an Italian bakery, I show them pictures of Ferrara’s.  Everyone in my family will attest to Ferrara’s being the gold standard of New York Italian pastries.

Ferrara's pastries

Ferrara’s pastries

La Bella FerraraLittle Italy, Mulberry Street at Canal, is an old school bakery.  Walk in here and the waft of fresh-baked cookies fills the air.  Many are displayed in the usual bakery case but there’s also a table of cookies that reminds me of the dessert table at a family party.

Veniero's pastry

Veniero’sEast Village, East 11th Street at 1st Avenue, Veniero’s claims to be America’s oldest pastry shop, opening in 1894.  Veniero’s is also owned by Bruce Springsteen’s cousin.  It has a beautiful display of traditional Italian pastries as well as a cafe.

2013-06-21_20-53-50_56

Pasticceria RoccoWest Village, Bleecker Street near Carmine, is the last man standing in this old Italian neighborhood even though the pastry shop itself is not that old.  (Rocco Generoso apprenticed with the owner of a prior bakery before purchasing it and renaming it in 1974.  Now, Rocco Jr. is at the helm.)  My family came from this area, lived on Carmine Street and went to Our Lady of Pompeii Church across the street.   The big fat cookies in the window beckon you into the bakery, but get the cheesecake.  It’s the best in the city, hands down.  (Yes, better than Junior’s.)

William Greenberg DessertsUpper East Side, Madison Avenue at 82nd Street, Rugelach, black and whites, hamentaschen, rainbow cookies and Linzers…need I say more?  Oh yeah, how about black and whites in custom colors?

2013-10-29_12-58-16_331

Orwasher’s, Upper East Side, 78th Street at 2nd Avenue, Orwasher’s opened in 1916 and was known for its Eastern European-style bread.  The bakery got a new owner in 2007 who added other European artisanal breads, and there are still the same wonderful pastries.  Did I mention fill-to-order jelly doughnuts and the sweetest staff in NYC?

Fay Davarious locations, While I’m not an expert in Chinese baked goods, I’ve been to many bakeries in Chinatown.  Fay Da is my favorite with consistently fresh and tasty pastries.

Specialty Bakeries

Russ & DaughtersLower East Side, Houston Street at Orchard Street, Celebrating 100 years this year, Russ & Daughters is a classic NYC institution.  It is in this category because it specializes in smoked fish and also has baked goods like babka, rugelach and macaroons.  But it also serves a bit of feminist history.  As the original owner had no sons, he left his shop to his daughters, hence the name.

Kossar’sLower East Side, Grand Street at Essex Street, Kossar’s specializes in bialys.

Yonah SchimmelLower East Side, Houston Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, Yonah Schimmel has specialized in knishes for over 100 years.

Parisi BakeryLittle Italy, two locations at Elizabeth and Mott Streets,  Family-owned for over 100 years, Parisi Bakery specializes in bread and deli sandwiches.

 

–Dina Di Maio

Sweets Week: Day 3: FIKA

FIKA is a Swedish coffee shop that makes its own pastries in house.  While I don’t drink coffee, I do eat pastries.  And the pastries here are delicious.  They are Swedish-inspired like almond marzipan pastry and Swedish cinnamon buns.  I got the almond marzipan pastry, the graham cracker chocolate with hazelnut cream filling and a chocolate spice biscotti.   They also have chocolate truffles in flavors like lingonberry.  In addition to the selection of Swedish pastries, they also have chocolate chip cookies, brownies and croissants, and they serve food.  While you can sit in FIKA, it is small and has the feel of a takeout coffee shop rather than a place to sit and linger.  All of these treats were delicious, but my favorite was the firm yet chewy biscotti.

2013-10-28_20-14-13_821

Sweets Week: Day 1: Orwasher’s Bakery

2013-10-29_12-58-16_331

There’s a sweet bready smell in the air at Orwasher’s Bakery. It’s as inviting as the friendly service.  Yes, it’s true, I rarely make it up to Yorkville and the Upper East Side, but Orwasher’s alone is worth a trip.  Especially for a jelly doughnut fanatic such as myself.  Orwasher’s has large pillowy doughnuts that are filled to order with your choice of strawberry, raspberry, sour cherry, blueberry or other fillings.

sour cherry jelly doughnut

sour cherry jelly doughnut

Wow, I’ve never seen filled-to-order jelly doughnuts before.  And the fillings are like preserves, not the standard blood-red goo in most commercial jelly doughnuts.

strawberry jelly doughnut

strawberry jelly doughnut

The bread looks amazing here, and I opted for a the seasonal pumpkin loaf, which was out of this world good with a little butter and sprinkle of cinnamon.

2013-10-30_09-12-37_382

Sweets Week: Day 4: Levain Bakery

Levain Bakery should be serving consent forms along with their cookies.  Dieters beware–there’s a live webcam in the store that broadcasts on the bakery’s website.  I just checked out the pictures on the site.  I’m sure it’s a way of utilizing social media and technology, but it comes across as more disturbing than fun.

I have heard so many great things about Levain, but I hadn’t tried it because I’m rarely in the neighborhood.  I checked out the website beforehand and wanted to try one of those chocolate breads pictured on the homepage.  So on a recent trip to the Upper West Side, I stopped in.  It’s a small shop that does a takeout business.  It quickly got crowded as I was placing my order on a Friday afternoon.  I wanted to try one of the big fat cookies that are so popular.  I also got a cinnamon brioche, pictured below, as they didn’t have the chocolate one.  The brioche tasted good, but the dough had this soft/chewy feel to it that I wasn’t too crazy about.
 
2013-09-27_13-32-47_974
I got a chocolate peanut butter cookie, and it was good, but again, not great. I shared both of these with a friend of mine who loved them.  I guess they just aren’t my taste.

2013-09-27_13-33-28_930

Sweets Week: Day 3: Jennifer’s Way

So for this week’s Sweets Week, I explored Italian bakeries and ice cream.  Today, I’m going to do something a little different–Jennifer’s Way.  I reported that actress Jennifer Esposito opened a gluten-free bakery in the East Village.  The bakery is a small spot with a limited menu of gluten-free baked goods.

2013-10-09_16-07-24_78

All the items in the bakery are also gluten, dairy, peanut, refined sugar and soy free (except for the red velvet cupcake which has soy in the red dye).  There are breads, cookies, muffins, cupcakes and more.  I opted for the jam thumbprint and the devil’s food cupcake.  Um, these things tasted great, like not gluten-free great.  I don’t have food allergies, but I have tried gluten-free baked goods at various bakeries.  (Hey, I’ll never pass up a bakery.)  I usually don’t like them very much.  But these–these taste like the real thing.  And I’m trying to limit the soy in my diet (fat chance of doing that–it’s in every product in the grocery store, including a can of tuna!), so I was happy the baked goods are soy free here.  I only wish the bakery was closer to my apartment!
 
2013-10-09_17-58-06_350