Italian pastries like cannoli and sfogliatelle are continuing to gain in popularity as consumers seek out new flavor experiences. This bodes well for bakeries like Termini Brothers Bakery in Philadelphia, Alfonso’s Pastry Shoppe in New York, and Piccione Pastry in St. Louis.
In early 2016, Piccione Pastry gifted an Italian culinary experience to one local cannoli lover. The winner received two round trip flights on Southwest Airlines, a two night stay at the upscale Hilton hotel in downtown Chicago and a loaded gift card for eats and gifts at Mario Batali’s nationally acclaimed Eataly Italian Marketplace.
Washington University employee M.K. Sewell-Loftin was just one of hundreds who entered the competition by joining Piccione Pastry’s Friends of the Flock loyalty program. She applied to be a member of the shop’s Friends of the Flock while enjoying her favorite sweet treat, a cookie dough cannoli filled with Piccione’s signature cream.
For three generations, Termini Brothers Bakery in Philadelphia has polished its reputation as one of the leading Italian bakeries in the United States. Since 1921, the family-owned business has grown to four retail stores and an online storefront, yet all production remains in the original shop, so as to maintain the highest level of quality and consistency. Today, the third generation (Joseph and Vincent Jr.) continues the tradition that their grandfather and father entrusted to them. Just like their father, Joseph and Vincent Jr. started working in the bakery at a very young age.
Their dedication to excellence translates into classic Italian pastries like cannoli, a traditional Sicilian dessert made of fried pastry dough that is rolled into tubes and filled with a sweet, creamy filling. At Termini Brothers, each cannoli shell is hand-crafted then packed in its own compartment to maintain its integrity and freshness.
Handmade sfogliatelle (pronounced "s-voy-a-dell") made from Giuseppe Termini's original Napolean recipe is another signature item at the bakery. Sfogliatelle, which means many leaves, are a traditional pastry from Naples. The dough, similar to a puff pastry (although a bit crispier), is mixed, rolled and shaped by hand and filled with a mixture of organic ricotta cheese, sweetened cooked farina and house-peeled orange peel.
Termini Brothers also specializes in fig bars, which are made using tender cookie dough that encases a mixture of freshly ground figs, Marsala wine, hazelnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips. The bakery grinds fresh figs by hand to use as the base for the fig bar filling. Fresh ground figs are mixed with chocolate chips, whole filberts, and an assortment of secret ingredients. Fig bars a traditional Sicilian dessert most often served at Christmas or at weddings.
Expanding their Reach
In New York, Alfonso’s Pastry Shoppe continues to expand its popular bakery business that was founded in 1970 on Staten Island in New York. Cannoli is one of the top sellers at Alfonso’s, where they fry their own cannoli shells every day at the bakery.
Pastries, cakes and cookies are among the specialties at Alfonso’s Pastry Shoppe, now with two locations (Staten Island and Cranford, New Jersey). “We continue to see an upswing in business,” says Anthony Campitiello, who owns the bakery with his brother Vincent. Their father, Alfonso, started the business.
Cannoli comes to mind immediately when talk of Italian desserts and pastries begins. However, many other Italian pastries have the ability to sell in the retail bakery. Adventurous customers—those who love sweets from other parts of the world and are always on the hunt to try new things—will appreciate the new experiences.