A Line of Italian-Style Bakeries Is About to Rise in Phoenix

Cannoli, the most global Sicilian dessertEXPAND
Cannoli, the most global Sicilian dessert
Chris Malloy
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Here in Phoenix, great Italian pastries are scarce. If you look, you can find passable cannoli, solid sfogliatelle. But fantastic? The kind of light, flaky, orange-perfumed sweet eaten in the morning that periodically thunders back into mind for the rest of the day? Good luck.

This January, The Maggiore Group hopes to change that.

That's when The Sicilian Baker will open next to the first location of The Sicilian Butcher on Tatum Boulevard and Greenway Road. The bakery will produce Sicilian-style sweets (pastry and desserts). It will be overseen by Joey Maggiore, chef and chief catalyst of his family’s rapidly snowballing hospitality conglomerate, The Maggiore Group. The Maggiores have roots in Sicily and return often.

Generally, there isn’t much of a dessert culture in Italy. Baked sweets, the kind that dazzle with yeast or cream, are typically eaten in the morning. This doesn't mean that the tradition of sweets on the peninsula and its many islands is short of excellent. Sicily's ancient pastry game is widely celebrated.

At The Sicilian Baker, the Maggiore clan will prepare cannoli, sfinci (fluffy, sugared doughnuts), cassata, and more. Joey's cousin, a pastry chef from Sicily, will help curate the opening menu.

The presence of cassata is a promising sign. Cassata is a marzipan-shelled cake from Sicily. It is studded with candied fruit and filled with a sweetened ricotta cream. If the world's has produced a better cake than cassata, I haven't tasted it yet.

When The Sicilian Butcher opened last year, cassata was on the menu.

It was a modern riff, a surprisingly enjoyable version that incorporated dusky cherries. The Sicilian Baker will produce sweets in a similarly modern vein. News of this together with the unborn bakery’s plans to expand to 15 locations may sound a warning bell or two. So may this restaurant group’s recent history.

A few of The Maggiore Group’s restaurants cater to style at the expense of substance. At The Sicilian Butcher, you can witness culinary choices that could arguably be described as gimmicky: large-batch cocktail-making seemingly meant to hijack headlines and social media feeds, antipasto boards so long they seem to tear holes into other dimensions. This would all be fine if they cooked the pastas better.

Similarly, a “cannoli bar” at The Sicilian Baker will let you design cannoli of customizable sizes, ranging from micro to footlong, with toppings and fillings you can chameleon to your preferences. Sure, the concept isn’t traditional. Sure, Instagram likely figured largely into its calculus. Sure, you’re not going to channel Palermo when you're in north Phoenix crunching into a strawberry cannoli with a circus of toppings.

But if they can make a great Italian pastry, it’ll all be gravy.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.