Someone had to do it. This summer, Chef Stefano took his family on the road from Rome, through the southwest coast, to Sicily and up to Bologna in search of the best Italian pastries.
Here are our favorites:
In Rome: Pasticceria Bompiani near the Catacombs, just outside the city center. You can’t go wrong. From the homemade gelato and cornetti integrale (whole wheat croissants) to the breakfast ciambelle (doughnuts) and lunchtime panini (sandwiches), this is maaaaaybe Chef Stefano’s favorite place to eat in Italy… outside of his mother’s apartment, located in the same neighborhood. Check out their Facebook page for updated information on evening aperitivi and holiday cakes and events: https://www.facebook.com/pasticceriabompiani/.
In Sicily: Pastries - from brioche to marzipan - speckle the island with sweet and unique treats, but Chef Stefano’s favorite is Caffe Sicilia in the charming town of Noto, about 2 hours south of Taormina. You can watch more about the Caffe and its multigenerational owner, Corrado, on Netflix’s pastry-focused season 4 of Chef’s table. But, if you’re in Siciliy and can’t get to Noto, just make sure to try some brioche and mandorla (bitter almond) granita - get a local recommendation. https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Cafe/Caff%C3%A9-Sicilia-Noto-59815635165/
In Bologna: It’s kind of cheating, but the new Fico complex, brought to you by Eataly, takes the torta (cake). Cheating because there’s so MUCH baked (pun intended) into this new gastro mall in one of the most charming cities in Italy. But a legit fave because it’s worth the drive or train ride - and Chef Stefano can confirm that first hand. (If you can’t make it up north on your next trip through Rome, the Eataly complex in Garbatella’s old train station will do the trick.) https://www.eatalyworld.it/en/
In Reggio Calabria: Tonino’s gelateria in Tropea. First, Tropea serves up seaside, affordable seafood, and hot peppers and local Tropean onions with zeal. Chef Stefano recommends exploring the Calabrian seaside on your next trip to Italy. And, if you do, stop in to see Tonino and his exotic gelati (ice creams). From tuna and spicy salami to onion and olive flavors, you really can’t get more deliciously weird gelato than this. https://www.facebook.com/gelati.toninotropea
One thing is for sure: You don’t need to read about a pastry shop in your tour book or see a Netflix special to eat pastries like Italian royalty. Most pastry shops - true to Italian form - specialize in the regional delicacies. If you find yourself anywhere in Italy and a sweet aroma greets you on your passeggiata (walk), take a minute to stop in to smell, then buy, some sweets. A rose is one thing; Italian pastries are entirely another.