Ferrara Bakery and Cafe | Little Italy
I ran out of sauce, so I left the dry outer shell of my arancini in its paper container.
I grabbed my belongings and turned to face the street. I realized that everything in Little Italy is close together — as the second destination I wanted to visit was right across the street: Ferrara Bakery and Cafe.
Ferrara Bakery and Cafe | History
Founded by Enrico Scoppa and Antonio Ferrara in 1892 — Ferrara’s claims to be the first espresso bar in the U.S.
You can watch this video to see their baked goods, made in-house:
Ferrara Bakery and Cafe
The most eye-catching feature of Ferrara’s building is the sign with their name hanging from the building. Its long and narrow shape and simple colors draw your attention to their store front, which is busy and bold.
A gelato case sits on the sidewalk in front of the bakery. Two large ice cream cones balance on the ends of the awning, which is rimmed with neon “Ferrara” signs.
I wove through the crowd of people. Children sat on benches eating gelato cones. Parents and elderly couples crowded around the gelato case — looking at the colorful flavors.
I pushed through the glass doors and into the entryway.
Ferrara Bakery | Interior Design
The pastry case ran down the left-hand side of the room. Movie theater velvet ropes created two rows for the bakery line. The hostess stand was to the right. The dining room with two and four-top tables spanned the right-hand side of the room and down the back wall.
I stepped into the bakery counter line. I was last. People ahead of me blocked my view of the pastry case. As the line gradually moved up and around the velvet ropes, I decided that I didn’t want to eat standing outside. I stepped out from the line and went over to the hostess stand.
There was no one behind it. I walked down the aisle of the room — between the dining room tables and the bakery line. I was looking for a non-obtrusive spot that I could sit and do some writing at.
Finally, the male waiter made eye-contact with me, “One?”
“Yes, can I sit anywhere?”
“Yes.” I turned to the four-top table towards the back of the room.
“Except there.” He added, “I cannot give a four-person table for one.”
Okaaay. The only available seats were two-top tables on the outer rim of the dining room, closer to the bakery line. I was not a fan of this middle-of-the-room seat, but I had no other choice.
Ferrara Bakery Menu
I hung my jacket on the back of my chair as a small Spanish waitress gave me a menu.
The menu was thin and leather. It had two pages for bunch and one for pastries and coffee. I was thinking about dessert, so I skipped over the brunch menu and went right to the pastries.
The pastry case, as well as this online menu, had more dessert options then what was on my menu. After reviewing the menu, I narrowed my options down to the pasticciotto crema, sfogliatella, or lobster tail.
I was also looking at the coffee options. It was around 2 o’clock in the afternoon and I wanted a cappuccino.
Ferrara Bakery Tourists
Sinatra played throughout the room drowning out the conversations and customers ordering gelato.
A table of five paid and left. A French couple was seated to my left. The wife kept standing between her table and mine, digging through her backpack. The tables were so close together that her butt was nearly sitting on my table’s edge.
I studied the room — the floors were diamond shaped (red and cream) with a speckled pattern tile. The pastry cases were filled and immaculately clean. There were several workers behind the counter, each assigned a job: pastry orders, gelato cones, coffee, etc.
A constant stream of people filled the velvet ropes at the pastry case. An older group of women came in and studied a menu at the hostess stand. They were also confused about whether to seat themselves. Eight elderly men sat behind me with two tables pulled together. They were debating whether or not they needed to sit down at a table to order and drink coffee.
When my waitress arrived I ordered water, coffee, and dessert.
Affogato | $8.00—
Can you believe I never had affogato before? Even in Italy!
For those of you who have also never had affogato, it is an Italian coffee-dessert which is a scoop of vanilla gelato with espresso poured over top. You can also put liqueur in it, but I didn’t.
My affogato came in a medium-sized tumbler glass. The espresso was already blending with the melted gelato at the top of the glass, but was still dark and bitter towards the bottom.
I used the little spoon to take a scoop from the side, a bit of gelato and pool of espresso. It was out-of-this world! I loved the combination of bitter and bold espresso (still warm) mixing with the cold and sweet gelato.
I used the straws to mix and melt the gelato and espresso even more. The result as the espresso cooled down, was similar to an iced coffee flavor, with the consistency of a milkshake. It was wonderful!
Lobster Tail | $10
I decided to order a lobster tail because I only had one once or twice before.
When I first saw the lobster tail price, I couldn’t imagine how it could be $10. Was Ferrara marking up their prices because they were famous?
Well, after my waitress placed the lobster tail in front of me, I knew why it was $10.
I was expecting a small lobster tail, about the size of a kiwi. Instead, I received this — which was like a personal calzone of Bavarian cream.
There is no way I am going to eat all of this. I used my fork to chop off a bit of the end. The layers were thin and crunchy — I made a lot of noise as I cut through it.
The filling was perfect — light and chilled. The cream had hints of vanilla. It was lighter because of the whipped cream but still luscious the way heavy cream/custard is.
It was worth $10 as it was a giant portion. I ate about 3/4 of it and wrapped the rest.
My waitress poured the rest of my affogato into a plastic to-go cup. By now its melted contents tasted like a coffee milkshake. It was nice to take it on-the-go as I wandered into other shops.
If you’re in Little Italy, I would recommend visiting Ferrara Bakery and Cafe. The lobster tail and affogato was a 10/10. Delicious and high-quality pastries made in-house is one of the main reasons Ferrara’s is a famous location.
I would gladly return to try their miniature pastries (to experience the variety of desserts) and to see how their savory foods are.
The Next Restaurant Review
I still had the second half of the afternoon, so I continued through Little Italy to my next destination. Click here to read about my visit to Taiyaki NYC.