The aroma of freshly baked bread mixed with the sweetness of cakes and pastries filtrates the air around Alessi Bakery in Tampa. The moment you get near the front door, it greets you with warmness.
Let me warn you ahead of time. Alessi Bakery is no place for dieters.
Alessi Bakery in Tampa has been in business for over 100 years by committing to producing top-quality food and providing superior customer service. A fifth-generation family member runs the bakery and carries on the family tradition. While the days of delivering bread by horse and wagon ended long ago, the old-world bakery atmosphere remains alive and well.
My family has been making trips to this historic bakery since I was a young child. My favorite item is their Sicilian pizza. It is traditionally served at baby showers, weddings, and birthday parties, but I can't wait for a holiday to appear on my calendar. So I'm ordering one today to take home to enjoy.
Alessi Bakery has been a Tampa landmark and mainstay since Nicolo Alessi first opened the doors. Alessi came to Florida from Sicily, Italy, in 1912 and brought his baking knowledge and European heritage with him. He began by delivering fresh-baked Italian and Cuban bread to customers by horse and wagon to support his family. Nicolo’s son John and then John’s son Phil has continued in their father’s footsteps. John started the bakery’s insanely popular decorated cake business in the 1930s and became famous throughout the area for his personal touches and has received numerous awards for his specialty cake decorating abilities.
Knowing their products quality and broad appeal, Phil expanded Alessi Bakery’s reach beyond the Tampa Bay area, building a 100,000 square foot production facility in Northwest Tampa. The bakery now supplies wholesale products to companies across the country, including big-name stores like Walmart, Publix, and Kroeger. In addition, Phil’s son, Phil Jr., began working with his father as the fourth Alessi generation to carry on the family business. As a result, Phil Jr. has remodeled the bakery’s new location at 2909 W. Cypress Street in 2011 with an expanded menu.
The bakery and deli
Alessi Bakery's big green roof is easily recognizable from the street well before you are close enough to read the sign with their trademark baker. Inside, the casual old-world decor makes you immediately feel at home upon entering Alessi’s, and you are amazed by the sheer size of the bakery case displaying an unbelievable array of fresh-baked bread and mouth-watering confections.
The deli section has countless cold meats, cheeses, and vegetable toppings that would put any sandwich shop to shame. A trendy viewing window allows patrons to see Alessi’s famous cakes being custom decorated. Many celebrities and athletes have visited the bakery, and a photo of Muhammad Ali perusing the bakery case hangs on the wall.
A sampling of Alessi’s menu items
- Crème Brulee Bread Pudding is a custard-based bread pudding with cream cheese frosting.
- Cannoncini is a classic flaky pastry filled with fluffy coconut cream, known as a coconut horn.
- Peanut Butter Cannoli.
- Ooey Gooey Bar, fashioned after the Missouri gooey butter cake, is an ultra-dense crumb cake filled with rich cream cheese batter and chopped pecans.
- Mousse Cream Pies: lemon, chocolate, chocolate raspberry, peanut butter, pineapple and strawberry, cookie n’ cream, Boston cream, Key lime, and fresh fruit Bavarian.
- Cupcakes and Cake Pops.
- Gourmet Dessert Shooters: strawberry shortcake, key lime, raspberry cream, pineapple, Nutella.
- Fruit Pies: apple, blueberry, pecan, cherry, pumpkin.
- Gourmet Cheese Torte Layers: two cakes layers, two filling layers, and one cheesecake layer.
- Doughnuts: varieties variety.
- Cookies: chocolate chip, sugar, peanut butter, mini black & white, short dough, Italian tea.
- Mini Cream Puffs and Eclairs.
- Bread Pudding Cups.
- Classic Cuban: Ham, pork, salami, Swiss cheese, pickles, and Alessi special sauce on fresh-baked Cuban bread.
- Buffalo Chicken Sandwich: grilled chicken in a hot sauce served on a fresh-baked sub roll with American and bleu cheese.
- Turkey Reuben: rye bread, corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing.
- Bacon, ham, or sausage with egg and cheese sandwich served on fresh-baked Cuban bread.
- Hand-carved Cuban: slow-roasted pork marinated in mojo, honey-baked ham, salami, Swiss cheese, pickles, and Alessi’s special sauce on fresh Cuban bread.
- Mojo Roast Pork Sandwich: slow-roasted pork marinated with grilled onions and swiss cheese on fresh-baked Cuban bread.
- Mojo pork, steak, or hand-carved ham with egg and cheeses served on fresh-baked Cuban bread.
- King Club or Turkey Club: ham, turkey, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, salt, and pepper on three layers of bread.
- Beef or Chicken Philly served with provolone cheese and grilled onions on a fresh baked sub roll.
- BLT: bacon, lettuce, and tomato on a fresh-baked roll.
- Sub Sandwich: Italian, Turkey or Combo: the combo has turkey, roast beef, salami. All Subs have provolone, oregano, hot pepper relish, onions, lettuce, and tomato with oil and vinegar dressing.
- Mr. Corned Beef: rye bread, corned beef, Swiss cheese, and spicy mustard on rye bread.
- Egg and cheese sandwich on fresh-baked Cuban bread.
Alessi also has an entire catering department that can meet any need, from work lunches to full-scale gala affairs.
All of the employees that I have ever ordered from have been exceptional. They work together like a well-oiled machine.
Alessi has a dedicated and friendly staff committed to customer service, and many of Alessi bakers have been with the companies for decades. For example, cake decorator Melissa Maggiore has been with the bakery since 2000 and has created cakes for thousands of weddings and celebrity events, including Taylor Swift's Tampa tour. In addition, Maggiore’s talents are part of numerous charity events. Nicolo’s great-grandson Jason Alessi currently operates Alessi Bakery. Jason says the bakery’s success is due to its heritage, his great grandfather’s attention to detail, and the family passing down the skills through their four generations.
Nicolo’s native-Italian touch has taken a modest bread business and transformed it into a local food empire while still retaining the old-world charm. Should you decide to indulge, their address is:
2909 W. Cypress Street in Tampa
My shopping bag was overflowing with goodies. I went home with pizza, a classic Cuban sandwich, one cupcake, two dozen donuts, and a giant smile.
More good news is coming soon. First, there is word that Alessi Bakeries plans to expand with a small cafe shortly. And secondly, you still have time to grab a pastry or two.
"Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first." -Ernestine Ulmer-
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