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Dec 8, 2006 02:03 AM

The great Bronx sfogliatelle showdown (with photos)

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

Until today, Enrico's was the winner: 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. 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. Pretty cool actually.

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

    9 Replies
    1. re: Cheese Boy

      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: Pan

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

        2. re: Fleur

          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 the middle of flipping channels, and there it was.

          1. re: Fleur

            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

              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: to see.

              1. re: rose water

                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. 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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

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

                    2. re: rose water

                      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

                        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

                          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

                            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

                              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

                                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. 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

                    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

                      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. Excellent tip, thanks!

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

                    1. 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

                        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: (you have to hit ctrl f sfogliatelle to find it)

                        1. re: rose water

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