Pasticceria Natalina in Andersonville
Today I stopped in at this new pastry shop in Andersonville, a block north of Swedish Bakery. As noted on their business cards, they are "An Italian pastry shop featuring Sicilian specialties". Here's what they had, and what I bought:
- Almond paste cookies - these small "twists" are chewy cookies made from a paste of bitter almonds. The fellow noted that they are somewhat expensive because they import the almond paste from Sicily. If you like almond flavor, you'll find them delicious, as I do.
- Pizzelles - today's were anise flavored. They look like pizzelles I've seen elsewhere, but were dusted with powdered sugar. I didn't try them.
- Sesame cookies - these looked like short versions of sesame covered bread sticks. They're good - only slightly sweeter than bread sticks, not as sweet as most cookies. I like them a lot.
- Dried candied orange peel - I didn't try these.
- Lemon custard in a chocolate shell, topped with fruit - I didn't try these.
- Tiramisu - I didn't try this.
- Honeydew jell - This is a jelled dessert made from the juice of honeydew melons, with the consistency of pastry cream (creme patissiere), and the light green color of honeydew. Rather sweet. I like it.
- Rice pudding - This is a creamy rice pudding made from arborio rice, dusted with cinnamon on top. Not much vanilla flavoring. This is how I like my rice pudding - creamy style, without raisins - and I love theirs.
- Cherry tart - This is a small tart with a short crust, a small amount of custard filling, and a "to die for" topping that had the taste of cherries (possibly brandied). Delicious.
- Pine nut cake - This is a loaf-shaped cake. I didn't try it.
As they have opened recently, it looks like they are still "getting their act together"; the cases were not full, and there was no signage on what anything was or how much it cost (although the fellow behind the counter was happy to tell me all about each of their items). Some of the items they had were not on display; I only found out what the pine nut cake on the rack in the back was by asking about it. When I asked, they told me about many of the other items they will be carrying, about four times as many items as they had there. They will eventually be listed on their website, too. I hope they figure out how to do a better job at showing off what they are selling!
All in all, everything I got was delicious. The prices were a bit on the high side, but not ridiculously so. This is a welcome addition to the city.
One more note - Pasticceria Natalina was not at all crowded. How does this compare with Swedish Bakery (which I also like a lot, for Swedish breads and pastries)? I parked around the corner from Swedish Bakery and walked in, thinking I might get something there, too. It was mobbed, as it always is on Saturdays (this was shortly after noon). I took a paper number - 81, they were serving 69 - and then walked to Pasticceria Natalina. It took me around fifteen minutes there. When I returned, they were still only serving 72, so I gave up. Note - As I've been to Swedish Bakery before, I already knew how crowded they get. I rarely go on Saturdays, and when I do, I call ahead with my order; they serve the "plastic" numbers (for pickup) a whole lot quicker than the paper numbers (for walk-ins).
5406 N. Clark St.
www.pasticcerianatalina.com (website not working yet, give them time)
Metromix listing: http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/di...
Tue-Fri 7:00-6:00, Sat-Sun 8:00-5:00, closed Mondays
In my opinion, Pasticceria Natalina is the best bakery in Chicago and the most amazing bakery I have ever tried -- it's unbelievable. The focus on perfection is evident in every item I have tried -- the Baba al rum, Cassatine (miniature Cassata), Cannoli, Sfogliatelle, Cuccidatti, etc. Their attention to detail is remarkable, even importing sheep's milk ricotta. This is no ordinary Italian (Sicilian to be exact) bakery and I could not recommend it more. Even if you've tried others' versions of the pastries I've mentioned and you have not liked them, try them again here. It's really that good.
I totally agree. Best place for old school corner store bakery. They are indeed specialized but that's the Andy neighborhood for you. They epitomize the Andersonville small store vibe. Every time I go in I get a smile and a mostly brand new selection of treats to drool over. The obviously keep some stand by best seller favorites around. I find it be be perfectly balanced and detailed food. I am no Italian baked good expert but I find it suitably European/non-American pastry in that it isn't overly sweet. The pastry is the star not the sugar fix. Let me break it down for you: the place is run be a sweet, dedicated, knowledgeable, husband and wife who are beautiful and I would like to know what isn't to love?