Late night in the loop
Located in the historic Delmar Loop of St. Louis, Piccione Pastry bills itself as the only late-night Italian pastry shop of its kind in a bustling metropolis widely known for its Italian heritage. Ranking among the top 30 cities in number of Italian Americans in the United States, the St. Louis metro area is home to an estimated 94,000 people of Italian descent, according to the research department of the National Italian American Foundation.
So in addition to being famous for local favorites like toasted ravioli, St. Louis is, of course, known for its cannoli. And Piccione Pastry takes this reputation very seriously. The shop features single-serve Italian desserts, Italian coffees, locally handcrafted gelato and sorbet and seasonal breakfast and lunch choices, including vegan, vegetarian, sugar-free and gluten-free options.
“We know how to make a cannoli,” says Richard Nix Jr., whose wife Elizabeth developed Piccione Pastry three years ago to introduce an authentic Italian pastry shop to the city of St. Louis. “It’s amazing how successful it’s been. Our business grows every day.”
They spent nine months perfecting the recipes before opening the store, and today the shop features about eight kinds of cannoli each week, in addition to a “crazy cannoli” special. Every Friday and Saturday night, people from around the Loop come to Piccione Pastry and line up in droves to satisfy their cravings for authentic Italian sweets.
“Delmar is such a diverse street, which is powered by youth,” Nix says. “We are located across the street from Washington University. Also on Friday and Saturday nights, older adults will come down to Delmar to have some fun. We call it late night in the loop.”
Cannoli filling flavors include traditional ricotta, chocolate chip, pistachio, marsala black cherry, gooey butter and seasonal. Their pastry chef comes up with new twists on flavor to make the special crazy cannoli, which sell for $3.50 apiece.
“All of the cannoli are made here at the store, and we fill cannoli every hour to keep them fresh,” Nix says. “We really work in small batches to keep them fresh.”
Beyond their authentic cannoli, Piccione Pastry delights the crowds with Italian tiramisu, cream puffs, napoleons, ricotta cheesecake and the Italian specialty sfogliatella riccia, a flaky layered pastry with a creamy orange ricotta filling.
During the holidays, Piccione Pastry offers traditional cakes including the tri color cake, cannoli cake and cassata cake. The tri color cake features a festive red and green interior with layers of rich almond cake cookies, separated by sweet apricot jam, and topped with a silky chocolate ganache. Their popular cannoli cake is made with 16 cannoli and one pound of authentic Italian cookies. The full-size cassata cake is available in sweet and savory flavors: mocha checkerboard, pumpkin and orange champagne. Prices of Piccione Pastry’s full-sized cakes vary from $25 to $55 per cake.
Piccione Pastry is part of several local businesses under the umbrella of Butler’s Pantry, a second-generation business founded in 1966. Celebrating its 50th year Jubilee in 2016, this pivotal milestone for the catering and event design company brings a year of celebration and giving back to the community.
Butler’s Pantry was the dream of Richard (Sr.) and Anita Nix who founded the business in 1966 on one principle: to provide the most innovative and creative catering company to St. Louis. Richard Nix Jr., president of Butler’s Pantry, is fueled by the same passion for excellence and continues to operate Butler’s Pantry under the guiding principles of his parents. That driving ambition sets the stage for the next 50 years.