While most businesses were closing or closed due to the pandemic at the beginning of April, La Bella Sicilia Bakery & Gelateria was just opening its doors.
“We had to open to pay the rent. And that’s exactly why I wanted to open, because everyone else had closed.” Said “Jon” Giampiero Faranone, co-owner with Sheri Tolomeo.
“Opening in April was really good for business and people really liked that we had pastries, pasta, Italian coffees and house-made gelato available for take-out and curbside pick up. We have people from all parts of the world that live here in Hampden Township — French, Romanians, Tunisians, Indians, Italians — and they are very appreciative of the business,” Faranone said.
This dazzling, clean Sicilian bakery and gelateria is like nothing you’ve ever seen in the central Pa. You almost have to pinch yourself that yes, those dramatically lit showcases full of cookies, eclairs, mimosa and cannoli cake slices, tartlets, cannolis, pastries and more are for real and edible.
Products and ingredients at the bakery are sourced from Italy, including the gelato base, pasta, flour, olive oil, display of ceramics for sale, coffee beans and even the lava rock tables.
For breakfast customers there are assorted filled and flaky croissants, chocolate and Nutella muffins wrapped in imported parchment paper, beignets (lightly sugared), and imported Italian roast coffees, from cocoa-dusted ethereal cappuccino and lattes to a decadent affogato made with your choice of gelato or espresso and topped with whipped cream. Expect the bakery to open a little earlier (8 a.m.) once the clocks turn back.
The Sicilian-style pastries and cakes are not overly sweet and there is a pronounced delicacy and elegance to their appearance. There are three pastry chefs on board to keep cases overflowing from morning until evening. Special-order desserts, wedding and birthday cakes do require advance notice. However, your choice of gelato cakes — chocolate, hazelnut and coffee, for instance — can be inscribed between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. while one of the chefs is in the kitchen.
The mimosa cake stands out in the entrance showcase. Beneath the brilliant yellow shaved fresh lemon zest crown lies silky-tart lemon mousse and a fine crumb sponge cake. Chocolate mousse cake is another stunner with its shiny smooth chocolate glaze, circular rosettes and a corsage of curled white chocolate. The cakes taste as awesome as they look. Individual portions of the larger cakes are available too, so you can actually try a miniature version of the pistachio mousse cake, cannoli cake or a small cup of tiramisu hinged with a ladyfinger.
“People forget we have more than bakery items,” Faranone said. To that end, let’s note that there’s a case off to the side of the main counter containing savory, oversized, creatively topped focaccia, and individual aluminum containers mounded with pasta dinners ($9.95) al dente rigatoni, freshly sliced mushrooms and ground beef in cream-laced béchamel sauce.
There’s also sandwich slices cut from the large, homemade freshly baked round loaf of bread layered with prosciutto mozzarella, arugula and tomato. Soon a colorful medley of potatoes, green beans, onions, fresh tomatoes and showered with extra virgin olive oil and oregano will also be available in take-out containers. And don’t forget to grab a long or round loaf of rustico bread. The exterior crust is crisp and thin while crumb is dense and chewy.
The rectangular thick slices of focaccia are as airy-light as the homemade sweet beignets located in the bakery case at the front of the room. The artichoke heart, tomatoes, red bell pepper and sun-dried tomato or the mottled spinach and imported Italian ricotta cheese-enhanced focaccia are two house favorites.
Keep in mind the bakery charges an additional 3 percent if paying by credit card. For that reason you might want to bring cash.
Cakes, pastries, pastas and gelato are the ultimate comfort foods here. Stop in, pick up and share these delights with family and friends. A little sweetness goes a long way, especially during the pandemic.
La Bella Sicilia Bakery & Gelateria, 5510 Carlisle Pike, Hampden Twp. 717-590-8188
Source: Thanks https://www.pennlive.com/food/2020/10/la-bella-sicilia-bakery-gives-sweetness-and-satisfaction-during-the-pandemic-mimis-picks.html