The Brooklyn Columbus Parade, held each October through in heart of Bensonhurst, offered no street food of its own. The sole ice cream truck in sight was rolling along in the procession itself, not far removed from a flotilla of vintage Corvettes. Near the midpoint of the route, however, carefree parade-goers like me could pop in on Villabate for its Sicilian rendition of an ice cream sandwich, gelati on brioche (shown with pistachio and hazelnut, $4). Disciplined units like the Fort Hamilton High School band marched by in formation, but once they broke ranks at the dispersal point, there’s no telling how many may have doubled back.
For generations the Alaimo family has been creating the finest in Sicilian pastries, cakes, cookies and breads. It all started in the small town of Villabate in the northern region of the island of Sicily where Angelo Alaimo and his son Emanuele started their legacy by baking bread for the locals. After years of working hard in the country they call home, Angelo and Emanuele followed their dreams of bringing the best in Italian baking to the people and brought their talents to America.
Pasticceria and bakery with elaborate cakes, cookies and other sweets. Specialists in traditional Italian desserts and baked goods, especially holiday pastries and Sicilian favorites including cassata cake and San Martino cookies.
“I come in to Villabate from Massapequa for every holiday,” says Natale Lovoro, 53, his jacket blotched with rain after an hour on line Friday. “My parents come from here, and you don’t have a bakery like this anywhere on Long Island. None come close to the cannolis, grain pies, pastries, cookies, Easter cassata cakes. The bread — oh my God! — the semolina bread they make here. It’s worth every minute on line. This is an Italian mom-and-pop shop, and you can taste the family pride in every bite.”
I admit that when I moved in the US, the only true Italian desserts I knew was the famous tiramisu. I do not recall having seen an Italian pastry shop, except in Marseille, South of France, when my parents used to go to this bakery to buy some Italian bread. For sure I traveled to Italy few times, but still, I can only remember the tiramisu or the gelato of course. Other desserts were unknown to me. Then I came to New York. My first cannoli was a disaster: not good at all and making me ignore this delicious pastry for many years, until Giorgio’s in Hoboken.
The magic of Villabate started years ago in the small town of that name in the northern region of Sicily where Angelo Alaimo and his son Emanuele began the family business by baking bread and then popular sweet treats for the residents. After years of hard work Angelo and Emanuele followed their dream of bringing the best in Italian baking to others, transferring their talents for baking super breads and pastries to the U.S.A.
Line up on Saturday morning with the diminutive neighborhood matrons for sticky rice balls as big as duckpins, wheels of orange-scented ricotta cheesecake, tray upon tray of lemon-drop cookies, real Sicilian cannoli, and spumoni ice-cream cakes—all displayed on glittering silver shelves.
A slice of Sicily lives on 18th Avenue – a pasticceria with a stand-up coffee bar and separate sections for pastry, gelato and bread, just like in the old country. The cannoli are so fine, they’re served at Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club at Barclays Center. “We’re all about the cannoli,” said Antonio Alaimo, 26 (also known as Anthony), a third-generation co-owner of Villabate Alba, the Bensonhurst bakery in question.They’re the most popular product at the Sicilian-centric shop at 7001 18th Ave., which also sells a staggering 40 pounds per week of marzipan – almond-paste