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The great Bronx sfogliatelle showdown (with photos)

rose water Dec 8, 2006 02:03 AM

My friend kenito799 and I have been on a Sfogliatelle mission, aided by the Bronx hounds:

Until today, Enrico's was the winner: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rose_wat... Crisp, buttery, rich and delicious. With pastry that tastes like a cross between fettuccine and phyllo...but super buttery, fried up, rich, crispy and delicious fettuccine/phyllo. Filling dense and sweet, but not too sweet, with a nice citrus note. I got this batch just before Thanksgiving, and my family loved it. (I also got their apple pie, which was fantastic—large chunks of just-firm-enough, just-sour-enough apple). The biggest downside is that Enrico's doesn't always have sfogliatelle, and I've made multiple disappointing trips there for it--so call in advance (718 823-7207).

Tried Egidio's on E 187th St (just off Arthur Ave) and they were just ok. Pastry not as crisp, filling a touch too sweet.

Stopped in DeLillo's another time and they never made eye contact, slowly making their way over to the seated cafe customers. Anxious about playing hooky from my work for too long, I took off. Another time. I'll say that they didn't look spectacular.

But then, chowhound extraordinaire kenito799 dragged me to a place he discovered that he claimed was the best yet. I dubiously but dutifully followed along. Turns out that he found a place that only opened up about a month ago on Arthur Ave. I couldn't find any address details online, and neglected to pick up a card. The place is called Morrone's, and it's located on Arthur Ave, near Dominick's, across the street from the market. Inside it's shiny and bright, with a display case packed with fresh, promising looking Italian cookies and pastries, priced by the pound. The sfogliatelle is not as browned and buttery crisp looking as Enrico's. But indeed, these are the ultimate in sfogliatelle pleasure. The layers of pastry are crisp and fresh, thicker than phyllo, but more delicate than the shards of (admittedly delicious) buttery fettuccine of Enrico's. Filling is just sweet enough, and not too sweet, with a touch of citrus. We made the mistake of getting the small ones, and it took incredible restraint to not eat the one I saved for my partner. But I'm excited to go back.

kenito799 then continued the quest without me, and told me today that the Morrone's we sampled is the new outpost of an existing bakery on Williamsbridge Road, near Pelham Parkway. That location is:
Morrone's Bakery
1946 Williamsbridge Rd
Bronx, NY 10461
(718) 828-8111
According to kenito, the sfogliatelle are just as good there as at their Arthur Ave counterpart.

So hounds, get thee to the Bronx. And if you find something better, certainly let us know.

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  1. Cheese Boy RE: rose water Dec 9, 2006 03:21 AM

    Next stop has to be:

    Court Pastry Shop
    298 Court St
    Brooklyn, NY 11231
    (718) 875-4820

    I make special trips out there. Consistently fresh (no tired out ones from the previous day), very flaky pastry, and no overly sweet filling. Their baking technique was once televised. It was truly amazing to see how *thin* that dough has to be made to help achieve that "fanned" look. The pastry is fanned out after it has been rolled and stacked in multiple layers, and then filled. That's why it resembles the shell of a clam. Envision a collapsible drinking cup. Same idea to how the pastry is fanned and filled. http://onlineshop.rnib.org.uk/enlarge... Pretty cool actually.

    BTW, don't buy the miniature pastries when judging. Almost always too dry (anywhere).

    9 Replies
    1. re: Cheese Boy
      Fleur RE: Cheese Boy Dec 9, 2006 08:11 AM

      A second recommendation for COURT STREET PASTRY. I find their pastries,grain pie and cookies to be superior to VILLABATE and FERRARA. A step back into another age. The girls who work there are very helpful.

      Their Sfogliatelle are always fresh and perfect. Their Almond Biscotti are wonderful, made with that secret ingredient that is so fragrant and flavorful. I think it is called "Fiori di Sicilia" but I could be wrong.

      They have started baking for Christmas, and their Cuccidati, fig filled cookies, plain and chocolate covered are yummy. They also do a spice cookie that is very nice.

      Do you remember where you saw their pastry demonstration?

      1. re: Fleur
        Pan RE: Fleur Dec 10, 2006 01:21 AM

        Court and what?

        1. re: Pan
          Cheese Boy RE: Pan Dec 10, 2006 04:31 AM

          Two blocks before Union St if you're coming from downtown. Court and Degraw St.

          1. re: Cheese Boy
            Pan RE: Cheese Boy Dec 11, 2006 12:49 AM

            Thanks, Cheese Boy.

        2. re: Fleur
          Cheese Boy RE: Fleur Dec 10, 2006 04:41 AM

          Fleur, sad to say, but I was interrupted right in the middle of their demo and dragged away from the TV right at the moment it was on! This had to be approximately 5 years ago that it aired. I don't even have a name or an episode number. I found it purely by accident...in the middle of flipping channels, and there it was.

          1. re: Fleur
            kenito799 RE: Fleur Dec 13, 2006 03:14 AM

            Thank you for this tip. I decided that the best of the Bronx must be measured against this Brooklyn challenge. Saturday at approximately 1:45 pm we arrived at Court Pastry shop and purchased large (normal) size sfogliatelle, $1.75 each. In a word, perfect: the crisp, shattering layers of pastry surrounded a moist, fresh, not-too-sweet citrus/eggy/ricotta filling that was delicious. Yes, better than my last visits to Morrone's. But one caveat: I had eaten the mini-size sfogliatelle, and my verdict of Best of Bronx was largely based on the thin, shatteringly perfect outer pastry layers. It wasn't a fair fight; Morrone's deserved another taste.

            Today, a Tuesday, at 1:45 pm I purchased a large (normal) size sfogliatelle from Morrone's on Williamsbridge Road (Morris Park) for $1.75 to assess an equivalent product. The verdict: A DRAW. Fresh, moist, citrus, eggy, ricotta, not-too-sweet, surrounded by a perfect, flaky, shattering crust of micro-thin pastry layers. I can not determine if Court or Morrone's is superior. Both are absolutely top notch.

            The next step would be a double-blind, side-by-side taste test, to remove any borough prejudice that may be lurking in our hearts. One weekend I may take on this duty. For now, I say that these are the two best and equal sfogliatelle in NYC.

            Please view the pastries in question, followed by their places of birth:

            1. re: kenito799
              rose water RE: kenito799 Dec 13, 2006 03:29 PM

              GORGEOUS. thanks kenito. who knew, in my happy pre-sfogliatelle life (not so long ago), that i would have sensations like profound sfogliatelle craving? ah, the evils of this board and your pictures (not to mention chowhounding overall)...

              so, what's the difference between the big and the small ones (besides the obvious issue of devouring speed)? because the morrone's small is fantastic in its own right.

              I wonder if there are any Manhattan options that compare. I've started a thread here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/350938 to see.

              1. re: rose water
                kenito799 RE: rose water Dec 13, 2006 04:28 PM

                it's the ration of filling volume to surface area--the filling dries out a lot faster with the minis. Normal size are the classic sfogliatelle expression.

              2. re: kenito799
                johnindabronx RE: kenito799 Dec 22, 2010 10:19 AM

                Morrone's is crap.

          2. Striver RE: rose water Dec 9, 2006 11:40 AM

            Do go back and try De Lillo's (and I promise to try Morrone's!). Had one from them just last night, and - after a brief heating up, because IMHO sfogliatelle are best eaten warm - it was totally delicious. I've always preferred them to Egidio's, and this once again confirmed my opinion.

            12 Replies
            1. re: Striver
              rose water RE: Striver Dec 9, 2006 02:07 PM

              I will try De Lillo's. My biases about what a perfect sfogliatelle should look like came from the Enrico's version, which is buttery and browned. My perfect Morrone's sfogliatelle, with thin, crisp, but not buttery-browned-and-crisp dough taught me otherwise.

              1. re: rose water
                Striver RE: rose water Dec 14, 2006 09:53 AM

                Happened to be on Arthur Ave yesterday and stopped in to Morrone's on your recommendation. We bought a cannoli, a small lobster tail (my favorite, which is basically a cream or custard filled sfogliatelle-style pastry shaped liked its namesake)and one classic large sfogliatelle.

                Verdict: the cannoli and lobster tail were very good; the sfogliatelle was excellent. I think I slightly prefer the De Lillo filling (but "slightly" is the operative word, and I'd have to do a head-to-head comparison to be sure), but Morrone's shell is definitely the best I've had from the bakeries of Belmont - delicately crisp and delicious.

                Thanks for the tip (and now we've got to try some of their other items as well)!

                1. re: Striver
                  rose water RE: Striver Dec 14, 2006 11:08 PM

                  First of all, Arthur Avenue was *crazy* today, with a 10 minute line to get into Teitel Bros, not to mention all the packed bakeries. Looks like now is the time to stock up on all the parmesan you need for Christmas. Go figure.

                  And my verdict, after a side by side comparison of De Lillo's (large, $2) and Morrone's (large, $2) sfogliatelle is that this we have taken on a very complicated chow judging endeavor! (No, I don't take myself this seriously, no worries). Yes, Morrone's shell has crispiness and shatter. But the De Lillo shell is buttery and a touch salty (which was great). Yes, the De Lillo filling is buttery, rich and delicious. But the Morrone's filling is perfumy and citrusy and also delicious. In sum, it is completely impossible to say which is better, and both are awesome.

                  And, to futher entangle myself in this sfogliatelle morass, the buttery goodness of De Lillo's made me tempted to retry Enrico's, which just may do buttery rich sfogliatelle better.

                  But, one other tip--De Lillo's had a sign up advertising frozen sfogliatelle that you can bake at home. Has anyone tried this? Who knows, that might be the best hot, fresh option of them all.

                  1. re: rose water
                    Striver RE: rose water Dec 15, 2006 12:23 PM

                    You know, with a little effort we can keep this up for years - if we're lucky. Of course now I've got to plan a trip to Court Street...

                    Seriously(?), I think you've put your finger on the filling difference - the Morrone's was stronger on the citrus side of the equation and not as tasty as the De Lillo's on the cheese side. Maybe the ideal solution is to have the De Lillo's as a breakfast pastry and the Morrone's as an evening dessert?

                    May our lives be filled with such dilemmas!

                    1. re: Striver
                      rose water RE: Striver Jan 24, 2007 06:28 PM

                      Now that you have condemned me to keeping this up for years...I've retried Enrico's, Morrone's and DeLillo's sfogliatelle in the past few weeks, and I think that I now can claim a favorite among 3 great choices. DeLillo's wins. Crust is shatteringly crisp, decadent butteriness is over the top, and the filling is not too fragrant and citrusy (as the others are, to my taste).

                      Here's a picture of sfogliatelle from Enrico's (same as what I posted on flickr in the post above, but I want to check out the new CH photo option). Now on to Brooklyn options!

                      1. re: rose water
                        kenito799 RE: rose water Jan 24, 2007 06:59 PM

                        that pic worked beautifully. Ok, name the day for the Brooklyn sfogliatelle run!

                    2. re: rose water
                      kenito799 RE: rose water Dec 15, 2006 01:41 PM

                      rose water has described the differences perfectly. I was present and participated in the side-by-side taste test, and I didn't know which was which--however, I recognized Morrone's by the shape of the crust and the shattering crispness, I have not tried a sfogliatelle that does that better. There is some intra-bakery variation, of course--the filling in the Morrone's sample last night was a bit dense, a touch overfilled, perhaps, where the one I ate Tuesday had ample air pockets and was lighter.
                      Side-by-side the Delillo's at first seemed better--I think that is because more butter always tastes better (the ultimate secret of much restaurant food). But then the more citrusy filling from Morrone's started to grow on me. As rose water said, it became impossible to say which is better, they are so different, yet so similar, it will depend on just what you want from your sfogliatelle.
                      This exercise demonstrated how important it is to taste these next to each other. I plan to make a sweep through Brooklyn and do some blinded comparisons. Getting to the Bronx on the same day is a stretch, but probably worth it and necessary.

                      1. re: kenito799
                        Striver RE: kenito799 Dec 22, 2006 10:24 PM

                        One last note on this colloquy - I stopped into Morrone's today (the Belmont area was fairly crazy, with long lines outside Borgatti's and Teitel's) and had a brief chat with the owner while picking up some sfogliatelli, etc. Turns out he was formerly the head baker at De Lillo's!

                        1. re: Striver
                          rose water RE: Striver Dec 22, 2006 11:09 PM

                          That's very interesting info, thanks.

                          Did you like it as much the second time around? When I was there this week, I thought they were a touch too citrusy/perfumy. But still delicious. I got the smalls, which I prefer. (I would argue that they have a better crust to filling ratio). They had chocolate pine nut biscotti that looked heavenly. Next time.

                          1. re: rose water
                            Striver RE: rose water Dec 23, 2006 08:00 AM

                            I'm saving the sfogliatelle for breakfast this morning, but the lobster tail I had last night and my wife's tira mi su were both very good. They do a cream-filled lobster tail, and while I usually prefer the custard-filled, their pastry exterior - like the sfogliatelle - is outstanding, and there's really nothing wrong at all with the way they do the cream filling.

                            1. re: rose water
                              kenito799 RE: rose water Dec 24, 2006 10:06 PM

                              Brought larges from Morrone's to relatives in Minnesota. By the evening they had become a little soggy so we popped them in a 300 oven for ten minutes. Perfectly crisp and the filling so aromatic...I highly recommend trying them warm.

                              1. re: kenito799
                                Striver RE: kenito799 Jan 24, 2007 04:46 AM

                                Yes indeed - a brief warming is great if you're not eating them fresh (this is also true for Tony and Tina's bureks) - and it's absolutely essential to use an oven and NOT a microwave (which essentially cooks by steaming and is useless for crisping).

                2. p
                  peasoup RE: rose water Dec 9, 2006 12:36 PM

                  Well, this is terrific news. We've always been Enrico's patrons, but as I've mentioned before, noticed disturbing signs of slippage of late.
                  Morrone's Williamsbridge outpost is even closer so I will give their sfogliatelli a try very soon - thanks for the tip.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: peasoup
                    rose water RE: peasoup May 20, 2007 08:55 PM

                    Retried the gateway drugs at Enrico's again recently, and they really don't compare with the sfogliatelle at DeLillo's and Morrone's. They are picturesque and lovely looking, but the outer shell is way too dense. I see where my original fettucine analogy came from, except that fettucine-thickness pastry is just too thick. I did like the filling though--sort of a moderate middle zone between the decadent over the top butteriness of DeLillo's and the super fragrant citrusiness of Moronne's.

                    1. re: rose water
                      Striver RE: rose water May 21, 2007 05:51 AM

                      Just as an add-in, I recently brought a couple of dozen minis from DeLillo's to a party in Brooklyn, and they were first-rate. Excellent small lobster tails, baba cremas, cannoli, sfogliatelles, etc. Everyone at the party loved them. Highly recommended!

                  2. squid kun RE: rose water Dec 10, 2006 01:07 AM

                    Excellent tip, thanks!

                    From Yellow.com: Morrone Pastry Shop Cafe, 2349 Arthur Ave., Bronx, NY 10458, 718-733-0424

                    1. shindiganna RE: rose water Dec 13, 2006 06:49 PM

                      Court makes a good sfogliatelle.

                      18th Ave Bakery makes a better one.

                      18th Ave near 63rd St. Brooklyn. It is an unassuming place, with a simple range of offerings. It's worth the trip.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: shindiganna
                        rose water RE: shindiganna Feb 4, 2007 03:55 PM

                        We made the trip out to 18th Ave Bakery today; very easy by car from DiFara's. You've described the place perfectly, and you're right, the sfogliatelle there is fantastic. It's the perfect offspring of a DeLillo's and Morrone's sfogliatelle, with the shattering crisp crust, and both buttery and citrusy insides. Thanks for the tip, shindiganna!

                        And look, this thread is mentioned in the digest, with a great write up that perfectly captures just how wacky we've gotten over sfogliatelle: http://www.chow.com/digest?page=1 (you have to hit ctrl f sfogliatelle to find it)

                        1. re: rose water
                          shindiganna RE: rose water Mar 18, 2007 12:42 AM

                          Glad you gave 18th Ave a try!
                          this is a great thread....the Sfogliatelle tour of NY

                      2. f
                        FAL RE: rose water Dec 13, 2006 11:10 PM

                        Fortunato Brothers
                        289 Manhattan Ave
                        Brooklyn NY

                        Gian Peitro
                        30 ave
                        Astoria NY

                        1. Striver RE: rose water Feb 5, 2007 02:06 AM

                          We were down in the west Village yesterday and stopped in at Bruno's on Bleecker St. for coffee; I decided to try their sfogliatelle and see how it compared to my current favorites (De Lillo's and Morrone's). It was disappointing - the shell wasn't very crisp and the filling wasn't particularly cheesy OR citrusy. The coffee was good, and some of their other pastries looked attractive, but I wouldn't go there for sfogliatelle.

                          1. Jacquilynne RE: rose water Mar 13, 2007 05:33 PM

                            On a recent trip to NY, I was force fed Morrone's and DeLillo's sfogliatelle and then instructed to come back and report to the hounds on this thread. As a matter of personal opinion from someone who's only had sfogliatelle once or twice before in her life, I'd say DeLillo's crust, which was like crushed glass (but in the best possible way) is the better of the two. The stronger citrusy flavour of Morrone's filling though, was my preference for the insides. I guess that's sort of a tie, but overall, I think I liked DeLillo's a little teensy bit better.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Jacquilynne
                              JohnAM RE: Jacquilynne Mar 15, 2007 04:11 PM

                              No one mentioned Artuso's on the corner of 187th & Crescent Ave (East of Arthur Ave). I think you'll be surprised.

                              1. re: JohnAM
                                Striver RE: JohnAM Mar 15, 2007 04:45 PM

                                Frankly, I've never been that impressed with Artuso's, and believe me - I've tried them all! Right now - as stated - my favorites are De Lillo's (a favorite for many years) and, more recently, Morrone's. Egidio's, which used to be a favorite, has moved down the list.

                              2. re: Jacquilynne
                                MMRuth RE: Jacquilynne Mar 15, 2007 04:37 PM

                                That was exactly my reaction to a taste test of same - but I came out neutral - never having had them before - I'll have search for the perfect combination of the two!

                                1. re: MMRuth
                                  rose water RE: MMRuth Mar 15, 2007 06:10 PM

                                  18 Ave bakery (that shindiganna recommends above) may just be the perfect combination of the two, MMRuth, though it's hard to tell when you're not comparing side by side. I will say that it's fantastic, and is definitely worth a trip if you're sfogliatelle-obsessed. I do have to disagree with you and Jacquilynne, though--I prefer the less citrusy insides of DeLillo's.

                                  But being force fed sfogliatelle, Jacquilynne?! Ha! That's great!

                              3. e
                                Etnea RE: rose water Mar 17, 2007 02:38 PM

                                Familiar with all the Bronx mentions and would like to add one more:

                                Sal and Dom's Pastry
                                Allerton Ave near Laconia.. a bit out of the way, but worth it.
                                It's all family run and the owners are all from Sicily.

                                1. a
                                  anchovy RE: rose water Mar 25, 2009 06:43 PM

                                  Not sure if this was answered - the frozen sfogliatelle (from DeLillo's) are the best way to enjoy this item - i buy 10 or so evey major holiday and they are always the show stopper.. I've had them warm from street carts in Napoli and the above is the closest we can come. Don't forget to have the powdered sugar handy!

                                  1. d
                                    deliacookie RE: rose water Mar 27, 2009 08:52 AM

                                    ok i'm on a quest for the best napoleon's and cannoli's that we can find. Our son goes to school in the Bronx so we go in to the Bronx many times. Do you have a favorite place for either one of these?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: deliacookie
                                      kenito799 RE: deliacookie Apr 3, 2009 12:50 PM

                                      Enrico's on Morris Park Ave fills cannoli to order, they are great.

                                      1. re: deliacookie
                                        Striver RE: deliacookie Apr 6, 2009 05:52 AM

                                        Madonia Bros. on Arthur Ave. fills cannolis to order, but I prefer the pre-filled ones at either Morrone's (Arthur Ave. around 186th) or De Lillo's (187th, just east of Arthur). Morrone's and De Lillo's also carry Napoleons. It's not my favorite Italian pastry, so I can't tell you which is preferable (try one of Morrone's small lobster tails, which are outstanding), but I'm sure they both do a good job. They're certainly worth a try.

                                      2. l
                                        luckygirl RE: rose water Dec 21, 2010 03:59 PM

                                        In light of an upcoming trip I will be making to the city I am bumping up this topic.

                                        Any new ideas for notable places for sfogliatelle?

                                        Any Manhattan dicoveries for good sfogliatelle?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: luckygirl
                                          The Chowhound Team RE: luckygirl Dec 21, 2010 04:13 PM

                                          For Manhattan discoveries, please post on the Manhattan board:



                                        2. j
                                          johnindabronx RE: rose water Dec 22, 2010 10:17 AM

                                          You must inclue Zeppieri at Buhre & Westchester and Pelham Bake Shop a two minute walk away at Crosby & Roberts. IMHO Zeppieri's Sfogliatelle are the best in the BX. Pelham is a bit glitzier.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: johnindabronx
                                            deabot RE: johnindabronx Dec 22, 2010 03:07 PM

                                            This thread inspired me to go to Villabate today for a sfogliatelle. I usually get the cannoli and ricotta cheesecake there, but I thought I'd change it up a bit this time. Verdict: very good. Flaky, eggy, lovely citrus note and still warm. I have a new addiction here.

                                            1. re: deabot
                                              Pan RE: deabot Dec 22, 2010 04:09 PM

                                              I love Villabate! Their stuff is delicious, the prices are low, and the service is friendly and helpful.

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