From wikipedia: The word ciao (pronounced “chaow” /tʃao/) is an informal Italian verbal salutation or greeting, meaning either “goodbye” or “hello”.
How apt in this case to be greeted a good day by the lovely glass displays of stacked home baked goodies and a whirring espresso machine dispensing the scent of roasted coffee beans and fresh cups of daily joe. The adjoining dining room, where the walls are bare and interior design rustic, like the cookies and cakes they make, is the best place to enjoy a sit down breakfast. There is the added entertainment factor of watching children from the nearby kindergarten interact with their parents and of course, the fish in a television set.
While I cannot opine on the savory options (save for a not so satisfactory huevos verde a few weeks before), I have been savoring every pastry I’ve bought so far, be it a sticky cinnamon bun, any of the scones or my favorite square muffins, in traditional and some flavors that are more out there, like polenta with lemon lavender and golden pineapple. Their cupcakes are tiny and topped with just enough buttercream, quite unlike the frothy, frosted confections out in the market. Plain is good, when the flavors are there.
Ciao for now does not feel like New York, and instead of rushing from point A to B on the weekdays, I linger there for a while on my precious Sundays, reading the weekend news and taking in the neighborhood sights. Ciao. Goodbye when every crumb has been polished off the plate, and hello to the promise of another languid Sunday next week.

Ciao For Now
523 E12th St (Between Aves A and B)


The boyfriend was in town for a whirlwind 36 hours and I sent him off to the airport at 5 am this morning with promises to meet again soon. The next rendezvous, we decided, was going to take place in Paris, city of light. Thus french pastries were in my mind as I journeyed home and in spite of only 4 hours of sleep under my belt, I decided to postpone rest and find consolance in a good croissant.

I landed up at Patisserie Claude after a good walk from Union Square, where I was so early that the vendors were only setting up for the greenmarket. Luckily for me,  Claude has already begun churning out his pastries and was serving a discerning cabbie when I reached his shop at 740 am. The notoriously ill-tempered Frenchman was sweet and all smiles this morning as he plucked out a hefty pain au chocolate and a brioche from the trays into my paper bag. Sitting on a stoop overlooking Washington Square Park, I bit into the chocolate croissant, still warm from the oven, with a rich, glossy, semi-sweet chocolate paste oozing into my mouth. Objectively, the buttery dough is flavorful but too heavy in texture, and the interiors were a little too wet, but that did not take the pleasure of eating away. I meant to save the brioche for mid-morning, but could not resist pinching the topknot off for a bite. The broiche is excellent, with a tender crumb, slightly salty and with a deep eggy flavor. I applaud my self-restraint to keep the rest until I got home. Claude’s coffee is mediocre but did its job of washing the pastries down, and I walk home a little more awake and with slightly better spirits.

I look forward to Paris, to daily visits to local boulangeries and patisseries, to discovering favorite tarte tatins with Pak. But for now, I have Claude, and I am satisfied

Patisserie Claude

187 W4th St (bet Barrow & Jones Sts)

I had two slices of oddly shaped pizza this past week, one from Jiannetto’s pizza truck in Midtown and the other from Sullivan Street Bakery. Both were squarish, cut from oblong strips of dough. Call me a traditionalist, but I like my pies nice and round, with a clear delineation between the crust and the sauce and toppings. The shape of the pies aside, I enjoyed both square offerings, Jiannetto’s plain pizza, which is baked on location (inside a customized truck) , and topped with fresh tomato sauce, basil and minimal parmesan cheese, is a much healthier option for pizza compared to other midtown options. At $2.25 a slice, it also makes for a frugal lunch, although one slice is seldom filling enough for a person.
While Janetto’s pizza is a just square version of the usual neapolitan pizza, to call Sullivan Street Bakery’s pizza bianca pizza is quite misleading to one accustomed to the usual pizza pie. It should be called bread on crack or something. The bakers at Sullivan Street Bakery are geniuses for coming up with the chewiest, tastiest bread i have ever had. Pizza bianca is somewhat akin to flatbread, just slightly oily, studded with rosemary and a good sprinkling of salt. It is also oh so fragrant that I can finish a huge slice by myself just walking from the bakery back home, a short 2 avenue blocks away. It has become a saturday tradition to go to the gym in the morning, and then run to the bakery and reward myself with a slice of pizza bianca, which with all the carbs and fats probably about 5423 calories per gigantic slice, but I don’t care.
I have also tried their pizza pomodoro to comparisons sake. Sadly I didn’t enjoy it that much. After tearing through slices and slices of amazingly tasty pizza bianca, I found the smaller, thinner, tomato-puree encased slice to be too crunchy and a little unwhelming. At $2.75 a slice, I could get almost 2 slices of pizza bianca ($1.50) for the same price. I would take that option any day, and even if they upped the prices, I think I will still find myself jogging over to the bakery faithfully every saturday for the slice to kickstart my weekend.

Jiannetto’s pizza truck
47th St and Park Ave

Sullivan Street Bakery
533 W47th St (Between 10th and 11th Ave)