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Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Ferrara’s Pasticeceria and Espresso Bar on Grand Street has been a tradition in Little Italy and the nearby New York City Theatre District since 1892
LITTLE ITALY FAMILY TRADITION—We were told the stretch of good weather all the way to the end of September was lucky for us.  It had been 20 days without a hint of rain.  Perfect time to take in Manhattan, while we cat sat for friends, who had gone to Italy for two weeks.

Our adopted West 76th Avenue co-op was six blocks from the subway station.  Earlier in the morning we grabbed the #1 subway line at 72nd and Broadway and exited at the south tip of Manhattan.  From there we strolled over to Ft. Clinton, to board the ferry that would take us to Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty.  Later that week the federal government was closed because of a whining Republican party deemed it wise to block funding for political gain. Because of such Congressional immaturity, many visitors were disappointed to miss the now closed ferry to the Liberty Island national park.  But luckily we toured the small isle along with every known nationality in town before the D.C. meltdown.

After photographing Lady Liberty from every angle, even under her armpit, we returned to the mainland.  From the Battery in lower Manhattan we walked north along the East River, under the Brooklyn Bridge and eventually found our way to Little Italy and Ferrara’s Pasticceria and Espresso Bar.   We only had room for dessert because earlier we had stopped in Chinatown for a midday dim sum.
Ferrara’s is a big place.  And, even if the main floor is jammed there’s room upstairs to take care of the busy trade.

Ferrara’s has been there since 1892 at the same Grand Avenue location.  There was no way we’d miss stopping there.  Because it was late afternoon on a weekday, the downstairs area was not overly busy.  We felt at ease taking a very long time to enjoy our desserts and coffee.  Why not we had more than a week still ahead of us to enjoy Manhattan.

Antonio Ferrara, founder, impresario
HISTORY OF FERRARA’S--New York in the Gay Nineties had almost everything, except for a place where an opera lover, after a night of Verdi or Puccini, could relax, play a Neapolitan card game called "scopa" and drink a cup or two of espresso.

This situation was remedied when Enrico Scoppa and Antonio Ferrara, opera impresario and showman, opened a cafe called Caffé A. Ferrara. Caruso thought the coffee marvelous but especially loved the cookies and cakes.

After World War I, Peter Lepore, a nephew of Antonio Ferrara, had stowed away on a ship bound for New York.

A tradition on Grand Street since 1892
At the beginning of the 1929 Depression, Peter married the daughter of Enrico Scoppa. He was to spend the rest of his life at Ferrara's, transforming a charming neighborhood cafe into a world famous shrine of delicious tastes. Times were tough and in order to make sure there was very little waste, they began to bake two, three and sometimes four times a day, small batches of cookies and cakes. These difficult circumstances were a blessing in disguise.

Because of the frequency with which they baked, Ferrara acquired a great reputation for freshness. This reputation and the fact that the Lepore's were devoted to their business almost as much as to each other, enabled Caffé Ferrara to grow and prosper.

Today, Ferrara is called Ferrara, Pasticceeria and Espresso Bar and it is still a family owned business operated by the fifth generation. And that's perhaps the most wonderful thing about Ferrara's. Since its beginning in 1892, the spirit has changed very little.

Below more photos of Ferrara’s courtesy, Ferrara website and Phyllis Shess for Pillar to Post blog, October, 2013.

New Yorkers from the famous to infamous are familiar with Ferrara’s take out counter.
Medley of Ferrara miniatures: raspberry tart (left), lemon tart and tiramisu (right).
Vintage New York Little Italy Neighborhood circa 1940s

The hallmark of cream puffs
Ferrara’s at Grand and Mulberry since 1892.
San Diegans Tom and Phyllis Shess stop by for cappuccinos and dessert
So many choices: triple berry tart, center, cannoli's top and lemon tart below
Cannoli: Reportedly the favorite dessert of Enrico Caruso.
Cappuccino aficionados should ask for a double as a single goes down real quick.
The bottom line

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