09/26/17 10:24am

Despite appearances, this is not a cannoli.

A lifetime ago before I came to Queens, I lived in Brooklyn, in a neighborhood that realtors hopefully called Park Slope vicinity. It was a short ride from there to Bensonhurst where I would indulge my Sicilian heritage with vastedda—the ricotta and calf spleen sandwiches—at Gino’s Focacceria and pastry at Villabate. Back then, Villabate and Alba were two separate shops. These days they’ve united to form confectionery powerhouse Villabate Alba.

Recently I found myself back in the County of Kings and decided to take a walk from Together, Brooklyn’s sole Burmese restaurant, to Bensonhurst to visit Villabate Alba.

“I’ll have that chocolate-covered cannoli,” I said to the young Chinese girl at the counter pointing to a little number with a broad swath of chocolate in the center flanked by white icing and capped with pistachio. (more…)

07/30/14 11:12am

A vastedda sans ricotta at Ferdinando’s Focacceria.

I’ve been hearing about the 110-year-old Ferdinando’s Focacceria for at least 20 years. Last week I finally made it to the Carroll Gardens temple of Sicilian soul food. There I met Francesco Buffa who convinced me to order a vastedda the old-fashioned way, that is to say without the dollop of ricotta, which he insisted is not how way the calf spleen sandwich is served back home. “You really get the flavor of the meat,” he said. (more…)