Dec 2015. I was back in NYC after nearly a decade. Anyone who’s been here knows that every nook and cranny of this megapolis is crammed with eateries that come highly recommended – diners, burger joints, delis, Michelin star restaurants, ethnic food places, steakhouses, food trucks, hot dog stands, artisanal food stores – the list is endless. And honestly, a bit overwhelming!
I’ll be doing a series of posts about the food in NYC but I’m starting with something that is universally appreciated and loved – pastries!
Hubby was determined to find himself a 12 string guitar in NYC. Just the thought of one more guitar in the house drove me straight into the arms of the closest pastry shop. So on most days, hubby’s guitar search and my pastry hunt went hand in hand. I bring you 3 of NYC’s most loved Italian bakeries.
Ferrara Bakery & Café, 195 Grand St
After a long evening at Rudy’s Music, hubby and I took a brisk 10 min walk to get to Ferrara Bakery. A family owned business operated by the 5th generation, it has come a long way since it opening in 1892, when it served opera goers returning from late night shows.
The choice at this place was mind-boggling, to say the least! Here’s what we sampled at Ferrara…
Rocco’s Pastry Shop and Espresso Café, 243 Bleecker St
Ardell at Matt Umanov Guitars, Greenwich Village directed us to Rocco’s and even gave his recommendations on what we should try there. He suggested the French Lulu (pastry shell filled with vanilla french cream and topped with chocolate coconut macaroon & cocoa powder) and their freshly made Cannoli (a Sicilian pastry meaning ‘little tube’).
Hubby added Baba Rum (sponge cake soaked in a rum flavored syrup and filled with cannoli cream) to the order. With its roots in a much older Italian bakery, Rocco’s Pastry Shop and Espresso Café was started by Rocco Generoso in 1974.
Veniero’s Pasticceria & Caffé, 342 E 11th St,
This was by far the most warm and inviting experience we had, as far as Italian bakeries in NYC go! Established in 1894, it is run today by Robert Zerilli (the great nephew of Antonio Veniero, the founder) and his siblings. It was late morning when we got to Veniero’s and though their take-away pastry shop was crowded, we were the only customers in the café.
Halfway through our scrumptious breakfast of Sfogliatella (a clam shaped pastry filled with sweet ricotta) and a slice of Fruit Supreme (sponge cake infused with raspberry brandy and filled with bavarian cream and fresh fruits), Robert joined us for a long chat about travel and food.
Robert also, very generously treated us to some of Veniero’s favourites – Strawberry Shortcake and Zuppa Inglese (sponge cake soaked in rum and layered with chocolate custard). Complete calorie overload but I wasn’t complaining!
Definitely one of the highlights of our NYC trip! You may recognize Veniero’s from the many TV shows it has been featured in, including the acerbic Larry David’s show ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ (Season 8, episode 76).
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my sugar-laden journey! Do let me know about your favourite Italian bakeries in NYC. Ciao!