By Ron Rossi
Planning a visit to Calandra’s Bakery? You’ve reached the right place. Everyone might want a cookie now and then. Or maybe a piece of pie or cake. And then they might want an Italian Pastry with a cup of coffee. There comes that moment we want to have something special. But finding that is not so easy.
We can go to a grocery store to find something, but it is not the same as going to a bakery. And when we go to a bakery we want something we will enjoy. That is not so easy.
However, when you find a place that will provide something that you want today, and maybe tomorrow, you will keep them as the place to go when you are in the mood or want something anytime.
Welcome home to Calandra’s Bakery.
A walk through the front door and you have come to a place that you will remember, even if this is the first time you walked in. For us, it was like finding a place we remembered when we were young and would go in with a parent. This was the place that had what you liked, and could provide you with something you remember since the first time you went.
Something For Everyone, No Matter What You Would Want.
Where can you start? There are cakes. There are carrot cakes, chocolate cakes, strawberry cakes, and vanilla cakes. There are special cakes like cookie & cream, gelato cake, and French delight cake. And if you want Italian cake then there is cannoli cake, tiramisu cake, rum cake, and a blackout cake.
Next, you will find pies including blueberry pie, cherry pie, strawberry pie, lemon pie, fruit tarts, and more. Next is the cookies. Whatever you desire is here. From the black/white cookie to the vanilla cookie. And then there are the Italian cookies you might want today or tonight. It is all there when you look in the case and want to make a choice from what you see here. It does not stop. Whatever you do not see they might have in another spot. Just ask and you will find more.
If you are in the market for a special cake, then this is the right place. Imagine what you want and they will help you plan for this. There are birthday cakes to start with. They can be a simple cake or a special cake. You can even have a cake that is designed to look like Mickey or Minnie Mouse. They were beautiful as they sat there waiting for you.
Of course, if you need a wedding cake then you have come to the right place. They can have a bakery chef sit with you and help you design the right cake for the right event. It can be a vanilla cake if that is what you want. Or it can be an Italian cake made for this special wedding date. It is your choice and you discuss it with the team to create the one you want for that special occasion.
Italian Pastries Are Waiting For You.
Naturally, the reason to be at Calandra’s Bakery is for the Italian pastries. This is why you came here to start. And they will not disappoint you on this variety. It is everything you can imagine and even more. The thing is where to begin.
Calandra’s Bakery is known for its Cannoli. This is worth the visit. It is fresh and tasty. It had the right flavor as you take your bite. It is cool but not cold. It is not old but just made. This is the way it is supposed to be. It is the perfect dessert that is something to enjoy. Even with a cup of coffee. This is ideal.
My favorite was a great find. This is the Sfogliatella. The concept is from Naples in Italy. It is a “small, thin leaf/layer”, as the pastry’s texture resembles stacked leaves. It fits your hand and has a texture that is firm but soft. It has the right flavor and taste. When I took a bite I felt as if I was back in Naples when I went to a bakery there and had one. It is my favorite. And here at Calandra’s you have the same taste. It was like I was back in Naples where the pastry first came from. This was worth the trip.
So, after the cannoli and the sfogliatella I was now in a place where you can have whatever you want to imagine. There are pastries that are waiting for you here. Try the Tiramisu pastry or the Tiramisu cupcakes. Try a Creme Brulee which is slightly warm and moist. Or maybe it is a Caramel cupcake, or maybe a Carrot Cake that is the right size to make you enjoy every bite as you wonder what else to have. Or go traditional and have a Pignoli Tart with custard cream. There are Rum Babas fresh and creamy and have a slight taste of rum it seems with every bite you take.
There are cheesecakes in various sizes from an individual piece to a full-size cake. And it is not an ordinary cheesecake. These cheesecakes are made with ricotta cheese which is something we first had from Italy. There are Saint Joseph’s cream puffs, which are normally for a period around Easter but are here year-round. There are miniature Lemon & Lime Tarts freshly made with the right taste to convince you it is made with lemon and lime.
Pecan Tarts. Walnut Tarts. Fruit Tarts. And even more. That is what it is like when you come to Calandra’s. It is a place you walk in and wish you can be here all day. It takes time to look, learn, and ask questions. That is why you can even start with a cup of fresh coffee as you take your time to consider all the varieties and wonder what you might have now and for dinner today.
Amazing, this is not all you can find here. You can also find freshly made Italian-style bread. They are made every day. Fresh. Seasoned. Tasty. Just right. Take the warm, fresh bread out of the oven here and you will want to take a piece off and try it out. That is the way you do it here. It is what you want to do every day if you can.
Taste. Flavor. Hope.
One aspect of Calandra’s Bakery pastry is that you never have to worry about it. These items are fresh. They are made the day you order one. They are all handmade. They are original. The items usually only have four items in each pastry. Nothing more. Nothing less. These do not even have any preservatives in them. They are all-natural.
They were also thinking of being gluten-free, but this is something they are working on. It is not easy. Especially if you want to keep the original flavor and style of what these pastries are all about. And that, to their customers, is very important.
Prices are very reasonable for a bakery of this quality. It is worth it no matter what you want to order. What is nice to hear is that if you are a senior citizen there is a special discount on Monday or Wednesday. This is perfect and worth the visit.
A History In The Making Of A Great Bakery.
When I spoke with Kristin Calandra I was learning more about the bakery and its history. This is the third generation here in this location in Newark, New Jersey.
It was founded by her grandfather, Luciano Calandra, back in 1962. He first arrived from Sicily in Italy back in 1958. He worked in a bakery and then took this first location. He worked hard and made one of the best bakeries around. His family then came on to work in the bakery, and now his granddaughter is managing the business.
Mr. Calandra is 91 years young and still works here creating the pastries and items that people still want. Best of all, it is just the way you would make it if you were back over in Italy. It is that good.
The interesting thing is that Calandra’s Bakery is not one location. It is still where it started in Newark, but has also expanded to two other locations in the region. They have expanded beyond the three locations.
Calandra’s also works with restaurants, grocery locations, and even in hotels and catering establishments. So what you can see today you can also have when you visit a restaurant or attend an event. That is what they have been doing.
Calandra’s is also establishing a local wine-growing area in New Jersey. For several years they have been growing the grapes and creating the wine. This is still being worked on to establish it more. If it is anything like the original bakery they will do very well.
The most interesting topic that Ms. Calandra told me was that Calandra’s is an official item you can find in the MetLife Stadium here in New Jersey! This is wonderful. Just imagine, you are at a game and the team might not be doing well. That doesn’t matter. You can go to the food area and you can order a Calandra’s Bakery pastry. This alone is worth the trip to the game no matter who wins!
A Place You Can Remember.
Calandra’s Bakery. There is much to say after you have visited and taken your first bite of one of the pastries. There is so much to think of with every taste you have over an item. Or two. Or more. Being true Italian pastries you never have just one.
Instead, you have a selection of items that you can share with family and friends. Everyone will look at these and wonder. If you are someone who can remember sharing pastries with family when you are a child then you know what this is about. And if you are someone who has traveled to Italy in the past, then you definitely know what this is all about.
With the first taste I had of the Sfogliatella I closed my eyes and remembered. I was back in a bakery in Naples on a summer day. I wanted a cup of coffee and a pastry. When I received that sfogliatella and took a bite I enjoyed something that was ideal. Not too sweet. Not too moist. Not sugary or dry. It felt nice. It tasted perfect with each bite I took. It was enjoyable to think of it and consider how it was made.
Well, that is what happened here in Calandra’s Bakery. Each bite brought me back to the very first one I ever had in Italy. This was exactly the same. Nothing different. Moist. Now sweet. Not dry. The right look and feel. I finished the pastry and wanted to try another one today, or tomorrow.
I am thinking of it now. Calandra’s Bakery is excellent. I cannot wait to go back to order a box or two more items to bring home to share. And while I am there, maybe I will order one pastry to have while I wait. That is what happens when you visit here. It is like going back home!