8 great Italian bakeries in Woodbridge
Italian bakeries in Woodbridge are not a rarity. Being of Italian heritage myself, I'll let you in on a little secret--we prefer our sweets to be less, uhm, sweet (a gross generalization, I'm sure). Although you can find the occasional take on baklava or various versions of the classic chocolate cake and apple pie in most of these bakeries and pasticcerias, you must try scrumptious staples such as the tiramisu, cannoli, amaretti cookies and sfoglia-based cakes and pastries (a crispy yet airy dough).
The desired taste results in Italian dessert world are creamy and cheesy (ricotta, mascarpone) or boozy (Amaretto, Marsala, Brandy & Vermouth are regulars) and nutty (oh yes, we love nuts!).
Some of these bakeries have only a small dessert selection, and instead focus on fresh breads, fresh dough, gelato, and most popular in this part of the GTA--the famed Italian hot table. There's no better place to grab a delicious veal sandwich or a perfectly prepared plate of penne for lunch (optimally eaten during the day anyway). Finally, any Italian bakery worth its salt has a kick-ass espresso bar and this feature applies to all on the list.
Here are 8 of my favourite Italian bakeries in Woodbridge.
Sweet Boutique (471 Jevlan Drive Unit #2)
This elegant, yet unassuming, pasticceria is one of the most popular go-to shops when you need to make a great impression with a cake for any special occasion. They specialize in delicious and beautiful creations from elegant wedding cakes to simple sfoglia-based birthday cakes. I can't do verbal justice to the glorious sfoglia pastry (a main ingredient in many Italian desserts). All the cakes, pies, pastries and cookies are made in-house by owner and head chef Anthony Macri. Best to try: The Frutta di Bosco and Chocolate Tartufo cakes, their amaretti cookies and their wide selection of always fresh confetti candies (imported from Abruzzo). My favourite item: Sfogliatelli--a traditional seashell shaped sfolglia pastry filled with orange flavoured ricotta (bite me, Atkins!)
Fifth St. Cakes (471 Jevlan Drive Unit #4)
Fifth St. Cakes is the certified nut-free sister bakery of Sweet Boutique. This allergy-free zone is located just a few steps from its predecessor. You can rest assured that anything made at Fifth St. is completely nut-free as this operation is separately from the original bakery.
Di Manno Bakery (10 Buttermill Avenue Unit #7)
Although you can get fresh pastries (the cannoli is great), chilli chocolate gelato, and breads at Di Manno's, the real draw is their superb hot table selection, fresh pizzas and sizeable antipasto bar (which features an average of 17 different salads each day). Their seating area is huge and they have a large, comfy outdoor patio making it the perfect place for business lunches or a weekend brunch. As a bonus, they're licensed to serve and they're planning a wine cellar just in time for spring. Owner and cook Nancy Di Manno says the cellar will house over 150 bottles of Italy & Ontario's finest. A robust bottle of red to complement your meal will make you wish we practiced mid-day siesta over here.
La Strada Bakery (830 Rowntree Dairy Road)
La Strada has a small storefront. As you walk in, you'll see samples of bread, fresh pizza dough, some pastries, a few cakes, a few slices of their delicious pizza, calzones and their amazing Uruguayan style empanadas--and that's it. It's a straightforward way to present the items they prepare best. If you sneak a peek into the back, you'll notice a huge kitchen replenishing stock all day. I am personally obsessed with their empanadas, homemade sopressata (a type of dry salami but 100% better) and I love their sticky, yet delicious, pizza slices.
St. Phillips Bakery (5100 Rutherford Road)
This bakery resembles a European marketplace and is always packed with either people enjoying a meal from the hot table and deli counter or people debating with themselves over which of the bakery's renowned cakes they should order. I am fan of their decadent cheesecakes, and of course the big gelato bar (all ice cream is made just a few minutes down the road at their Maple location). Although fondant isn't my cup of tea, they sure know how to make elaborate "event" cakes--their beautiful wedding cakes, uncanny sugary replicas of the Bible (for religious occasions) and designer hand bags (great for the fashion obsessed birthday girl) are quite impressive.
Sicilia Bakery (399 Four Valley Drive, Units 1 &2)
You need to get here early as the biscotti and bread sell out fast every time. In short--they make the best cannoli that I've ever had. The pistachio cannoli in particular is incredible, with its blend of smooth ricotta filling topped with crushed pistachios and wrapped in the tastiest shell imaginable.
La Piccola Rosa Deli Bakery & Cafe (5781 Hwy 7)
I have a friend who attends Italian-centric wedding showers with me and is enamored by the dessert table. She drools at the sea of biscotti, amaretti, hazelnut butter cookies, zeppole and pizzelle (thin, waffle like cookies). These treats are baked by the bride-to-be's nonna and her friends, and my friend always takes her packed box of goodies (as well as mine) and freezes them, making her delicious stash last for months. La Piccola Rosa is the next best alternative to pulling off your own cookie heist. They make just about every traditional Italian cookie and dessert delicacy you could imagine. Bonus: they make zeppole year round (a custard based mini-cake that usually shows up around Easter only).
Nino D'Aversa Bakery (7960 Kipling Ave.)
If memory serves me correctly, I've been going here with my dad since I was 3. He'd keep me quiet with an ice cream cone as he decided which loaves of bread he wanted. Except for the occasional renovation, the vibe of the place hasn't changed much since then and if you find men in their 60's arguing over soccer as funny as I do, then you'll love this place. The Woodbridge location (their first of now 4 bakeries) kind of resembles a mini-mart with a large deli counter and hot table serving lasagna, veal, etc. and they have an entire wall devoted to bread (baked goods are baked on-site). They carry many imported pastas and canned products from Italy and their gelato is just as good now as I remember it then. To shop here is to get the authentic taste of Woodbridge-Italiano life.
Honourable mentions: Molisana Bakery for their notable hot table and being one of the few places you can regularly get a bowl of pasta fagiole for lunch and Aida's Bakery (next to La Strada) for their delicious grilled panini sandwiches.
Writing by Gina Bucci.