From unfailing crowd favorites like cannolis to the unpronounceable sfogliatelle, Italian cuisine includes some of the most infamous sweet treats. New Jersey is home to millions of Italians, including my family, and we take our food seriously. Dessert is no exception, especially around the holidays. But not all treats are created equal. While there are dozens of Italian bakeries across the tri-state area, we’re shining a light on just a few community favorites. In no particular order, here are the 12 Italian bakeries in New Jersey that everyone should try.
“One Name, One Family, One Tradition,” Rispoli Pastry Shop and Cafe dates back to 1937. The shop, first established by Gabriele and Josephine Rispoli, has been in the family for three generations and counting. Rispoli Pastry Shop and Cafe serves authentic Italian staples like sfogliatelle, cannolis, napoleons, and more, and their cookies can be shipped nationwide. Their second location in Emerson also serves all the classics, though only the Ridgefield location offers seating around a fireplace.
Known for their Italian and French bread, Calandra’s Bakery is a family-owned and operated business established in 1962. The Italian bakery produces fresh, handmade bread and baked goods that have reached across the tri-state area for almost 60 years now, with its products available in dozens of supermarkets and delis. Calandra’s also makes a wide assortment of cookies, pies, cakes, and custom cakes.
Palazzone 1960 opened in 2012, but its name comes from the small pastry shop opened by the Palazzone parents in Clifton in 1960. The family returned to Italy in the ‘70s, but Giancarlo Palazzone followed in his parents’ footsteps and moved back to New Jersey to open an Italian bakery. Now, Palazzone 1960 continues the family legacy with authentic treats of “old world quality in an ultra-modern setting.” With specialty coffees, pastries, and lunch options like paninis and pastas, Palazzone 1960 brings true Italian sweet and savory cuisine to the community.
Italian Peoples Bakery made its mark on the Trenton area back in 1936 and has since grown to operate out of three separate facilities. The bakery serves fresh sandwiches, bread, pastries, and cakes every day of the year, though they’re most known for their breads and doughnuts. You can find their products at their two New Jersey locations, the shop in Levittown, PA, and many supermarkets and delis in the area.
Turnersville/Washington Township/Brigantine/Margate, NJ
Calabria-born Ralph Aversa moved to the United States at age 14 and immediately began working in the iconic Cacia’s Bakery in Philadelphia. When he took the leap to open his own Italian bakery in New Jersey, it was a modest one-room operation. Now, Aversa’s Italian Bakery has four locations throughout New Jersey and serves hundreds of homemade products reminiscent of his Italian roots. They’re well-known for their top-notch sandwich bread, but they also serve cakes and pastries, along with prepared foods.
East Hanover, NJ
Sorrento, first run by Pasquale and Anna Sorrento and now taken over by their sons, has been creating a variety of authentic Italian treats since 1975. The East Hanover location opened in the ‘90s and has been serving the community ever since. Customers come for the outstanding cakes and pies—including the chocolate cream pie—but they’re also known for their sandwiches served on fresh-baked bread.
I will confess that, pre-COVID, I all but lived in L’Arte. A Ramsey institution for seven years and still going strong, L’Arte entices customers (and by customers, I mean me) with its easy atmosphere, friendly staff, strong coffee, and wide range of authentic Italian treats. I could consume any of their desserts by the tray, though the limoncello cheesecake and tiramisu have my heart. L’Arte also serves plenty of savory options, including arancini (rice balls) that are available only on weekends and prepared by one of their chefs, who brought this recipe with him from Sicily.
8. Prato Bakery
Jersey City/Hoboken, NJ
After four years in New York City, Prato Bakery relocated in 2015 to bring Tuscan cuisine to the Jersey City community. Owner and baker Simone shares the traditional treats of the town in Tuscany that named the bakery, including the beloved cantucci (biscuits with almonds, chocolate, figs, apricot, and prunes), and schiacciata or focaccia bread. Prato Bakery also opened a second location in Hoboken and offers the same Tuscan-inspired foods.
Jersey City, NJ
Of all the Italian bakeries in New Jersey, this spot has been called the best in the state, and Yelp ranks it in the top 30 in the country. It’s pretty clear why—this old-school bakery serves the kinds of hefty Italian sandwiches your mom might make you on a Sunday afternoon. Meatball parm sandwiches, calzones, and brick-oven bread make this bakery the place to go for classic, home-style Italian sandwiches. Though there’s not much to choose from for those with a sweet tooth, the lines that frequently reach out the door can attest to Second Street Bakery earning a spot in the 12 Italian bakeries in New Jersey you must try.
Ridgefield Park/Little Ferry, NJ
The Bruno family started Palermo’s Bakery in 1989 at their Ridgefield Park location. The bakery is well-known for their exquisite specialty cakes and gourmet desserts. More than 20 years later, Palermo’s Bakery expanded and opened a cafe in Little Ferry. Now, both locations produce the beloved Italian treats for which their original location is known, including breakfast, desserts, and cakes. The cafe in Little Ferry also serves brick-oven pizzas, paninis, sandwiches, wine, and beer in addition to the regular selection. You can also find their cake products in supermarkets around the country.
11. Monteleone Bakery
Jersey City, NJ
This Jersey City-based Italian bakery has been around since 1946. You won’t be able to find them on social media, and they don’t have a website, but that’s part of their old-school charm. Call to place an order for Monteleone’s traditional Italian treats like lobster tails and cannolis, or pies for your holiday events. They’re also especially loved for their specialty cakes. When you visit, be sure to bring cash, as they’re a cash-only business.
Deluxe Italian Bakery has been in the Racobaldo family since 1949, with products made according to familial recipes that have passed down through generations. The bakery produces over 100,000 rolls and breads daily, shipping them to locations all over the tri-state area and serving them fresh in the bakery. Customers laud Deluxe Italian Bakery for their breads, cakes, and especially the cream donuts.
Did any of your favorite Italian bakeries in New Jersey not make the list? Let us know in the comments below.