Italian pastries of all types come to the San Lorenzo Valley
There’s a lot more than just cannoli at the Ben Lomond Bakery, a (mostly) Italian bakery that opened this summer. Owners Raffaele Cristallo and Mario Ibarra wanted to bring a wide range of Italian pastries, as well as some American ones, and whatever other items tickle their fancy. They have sweet and savory offerings, and even freshly made gelato. We spoke with Cristallo about the new bakery. Oh, and the cannoli? Delicious.
GT: You have a lot of bite-sized pastries.
RAFFAELE CRISTALLO: The Italian stuff is very tiny in size. It’s like tapas for dessert. Everybody likes it. It’s inexpensive, and you can have a few different ones. It’s a very classic Italian thing. They range in size from an inch and a half to two inches at the most. The French also use this. The Italian and French, it’s very close. We keep stealing from each other, like the eclairs. They call it beignet. We make those.
You sell a lot of stuffed croissants, don’t you?
Yes. We’ve been experimenting with filling them with different food, like croissants filled with chocolate mousse, and the basic cream. We’ve been playing with that, and they’ve been coming out really good. We make different fillings, from coconut cream to hazelnut. It changes daily. Also, for breakfast, we do a croissant that’s stuffed with pancetta. we call it the carbonara croissant. It has the pancetta and the egg like the classic pasta carbonara, but it’s a breakfast item. It’s going really good. Also we have a goat cheese and kale croissant.
What kind of savory pastry should I get?
Something that’s been going really good is the chorizo and egg turnover. That’s a really nice item that we’ve been doing. We have something called a panzerotti; it’s like a deep-fried calzone. It’s really, really good.
What’s a sfogliatelle, and why should I try it?
In New York, they call it the Lobster Tail, but we are from Italy. It’s a classic Neapolitan pastry from Naples. It’s got ricotta with orange zest. We stick to the original recipe for that. It is a sweet one, but not overly sweet. It’s close to the cannoli filling, but a little bit different. We Italians tend to use cream fillings, hazelnut, stuff like that, and almonds.
9280 Hwy 9, Ben Lomond, 609-6552.
FRESH TART Raffaele Cristallo of Ben Lomond Bakery with one of their freshly baked fruit tarts. PHOTO: CHIP SCHEUER