HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Help! Custard-filled Bambolini in SF?

  • k

I Preferiti di Boriana in the Ferry Building used to have this wonderful bombolini. Light, airy, and filled with creamy custard. Sadly, for the last couple of months, they have not had the bombolini.

My wife and I recently visited the Ferry Building, and we eagerly ran over to I Preferiti di Boriana. Hazaaa! Bombolini are back! Except we were informed that they had been "improved." The new version was dense, tough, and underseasoned, with an odd lemony waxy curd inside in lieu of that sublime thick smooth, creme anglaise-type custard they used to contain. Sad.

Does anyone have any recommendations for custard-filled bambolini in San Francisco? Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: hotspur

      Only on St. Joseph's Day (March 19th). That is the case for many of the Italian bakeries.

      1. re: hotspur

        I tried Emporio Rulli's last week in larkspur. Available in hazelnut or apricot filling. Disappointing. Stiff and dryish, and the apricot filling was more like thickened sugar syrup than apricot.

        Emporio Rulli
        464 Magnolia Ave, Larkspur, CA

      2. Hi
        If you don't find what you are looking for in SF there is a cousin in Berkeley at the Bread Garden that is very worth trying. While not a bomboloni it is doughnut shaped and made out of croissant dough and is filled with pastry cream. It is kissed on top with a sublime chocolate glaze. I forget what they call them but they are heavenly and remind me of the custard filled bomboloni.

        1. I was so sad when they changed bakers for Boriana. I loved their bomboloni, especially the custard and nutella.

          1. From what I understand, Boriana was getting her bomboloni from the Four Seasons Restaurant/Hotel in East Palo Alto. But then the Bomboloni chef at the Four Seasons left, and for a while, Boriana did not have a supplier. However, the Four Seasons has recently resumed making the bomboloni, and Caffe Del Doge in Palo Alto sells them (see photo)

            Caffe del Doge
            419 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

            4 Replies
              1. re: Mari

                Walking by Boriana's last week, I noticed sfogliatelle in the case (small and regular size) as well. Has anyone reported on them?

                Boriana's Tuscan Market
                Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  As of 2 months ago, Boriana was getting her sfogliatelle from La Biscotteria in Redwood City. See your review here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/627704
                  I assume this is still the case; however, I think La Biscotteria only makes one size of sfogliatelle, so if you saw two different sizes, maybe Boriana has changed her sfogliatelle supplier, maybe at the same time that she changed her Bomboloni supplier.

                  But last I checked, Boriana was getting her cannoli at La Biscotteria.

                  1. re: ssfire

                    Thank you, that head's up is very much appreciated!

                    Not in the City, but Tootsie's in Palo Alto makes bombolini, but not every day. I tried the non-filled zeppole and was in love. A new baker from Italy was due to arrive, but I haven't made it back to see what's new there.

                    La Biscotteria
                    2747 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA 94061

                    Tootsie's at the Stanford Barn
                    700 Welch Rd Ste 118, Palo Alto, CA

            1. Oh no, they don't sell those incredible bomboloni anymore? I limited myself to visiting a few times a year because I could seriously eat 3-4 custard-filled ones in a row.

              My heart is broken.

              1. I've also noticed a big difference in the bomboloni but I didn't bother until now to research it. 7x7 reported that Absinthe's pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez was making them as of a few months ago and that he has a new stand where he sells them himself on Thurs, including a maple bacon variety. I haven't been thrilled with chef Luis in the past, specifically his insane desserts at Orson that he wanted to "challenge" his diners with (such as a dessert I personally thought tasted like smoked creamed turkey) but two respected kitchens have employed him lately so he must be talented.


                12 Replies
                1. re: foodwinemaven

                  So has anyone tried these Villavelazquez bomboloni?

                  1. re: Leely2

                    I just had a few at the Farmers Market today and I was unimpressed. The stall is from Arlequin. Its in front of the building to the right of the main entrance. Right next to the Blue Bottle cart.

                    First off, they do not label them as bambolini since Absinthe/Arlequin is french, so they label them as beignets. They had a selection of them filled with nutella, chocolate, custard, raspberry, and bacon. I sampled each one and did not find any of them too be worth getting again. I prefer the bambolini's inside the ferry building at the vender around the corner from Boulettes Laurder(im blanking on the name right). now)

                    What I did not find great about them was that the dough was way to thick, the filling on all of them was little to be found, and it seemed like they were trying to create a cross between a beignet and a bombolini because it was shapped and soft(not deep fried) like a bombolini but was called a beignet and had powdered surgar like one. Even though bombolini's have the powdered sugar too I was just kinda confused. They did look very tasty being displayed but I did not feel that they were all that great.

                    At the stand they offered other goods such as cookies, scones, and cupcakes but I did not venture into those when I was disappointed with the other offerings and I had plenty of other good options to get some baked goods in the farmers market. I had a great pistachio tart from Boulettes Larder and some good things at Downtown Bakery's stall.

                    Blue Bottle Cafe
                    66 Mint St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                    1. re: benv

                      I had a raspberry jam filled thing. I got it before there was a sign calling them beignet. There was a large amount of raspberry jam. It was deep fried and it was coated with extremely finely ground sugar, not powdered sugar. It was quite tasty.

                      1. re: wally

                        I appreciate the heads-up on this; I'm looking for more tastes to add to my Fried Dough blog and I didn't know about Arlequin.

                        1. re: wally

                          This week they were covered with powdered sugar. Still filled well.

                          1. re: wally

                            Sometimes, they're amazing, great tender fried dough texture with whispy strands somewhat like brioche and a generous hand with the filling, sometimes the dough is a bit off and doesn't have as nice a texture, with less generous filling.

                            When they're good, they're the best I've had. When they aren't...well, they wouldn't impress too many people.

                            At Arlequin's physical cafe, they don't make them every day and they seem to only make them first thing in the morning. Buying one at 11 AM is a bad idea--they have a short half life.

                            In my experience, they always have fine-ground sugar on the outside, not powdered sugar--but they aren't terribly consistent so I'm sure there have been authentic samples with both types of sugar.

                            1. re: SteveG

                              The chef who used to make them at Arlequin has resurfaced at La Victoria on 24th in the Mission. I haven't tried them yet, but I'm excited to check them out. It's a classic old Mexican panaderia, with a new generation in charge that is still making their classic recipes, but also doing special dinners a few nights a week, classes, etc.

                              1. re: SteveG

                                >The chef who used to make them at Arlequin has resurfaced at La Victoria
                                >on 24th in the Mission. I haven't tried them yet, but I'm excited to check
                                >them out.
                                er, if you dont mind my pendantic panderia inquiry:
                                are you only saying this fellow has relocated or are you advising La Victoria is now producing BAMBOLINI? ... or is the BOMBOLINI Situtaiton TBD?

                                LV is actually very convenient to my homebase, so i'd be quite excited about this. on the other hand maybe it is not a good thing to be closer to BAMBOLINI than to your gym.

                                p.s. are those jelly donuts sold by HOPKINS BAKERY BAMBOLINI or are they different?

                                La Victoria
                                131 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113

                                1. re: SteveG

                                  That would be Les Elements by Luis Vellavelazquez.


                                  Village Market
                                  1 Ferry Bldg # 29, San Francisco, CA

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    OK, this is very exciting news, if a little confusing. So if I can summarize my understanding, it seems from SteveG's post that since the old Arlequin chef is at La Victoria, they may have bambolini's available there (although, they do not seem to be listed on the website (http://www.lavictoriabakery.com/) menu, but that does not seem to be a full pastry menu.

                                    Then, it appears that at least back last November, the former chef was also doing a popup of sorts at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market so the bambolinis may also be available there. (I wonder if he will continue given his gig at La Victoria.


                                    Finally, singleguychef below has found bambolinis at Village Market at the Ferry Building, but possibly made by a different supplier.

                                    Still, three possible places to check out for bambolini is certainly much happier than the situation when I first posted the question!

                                    Thanks to everyone for keeping your eyes open for bambolini and for coming back and posting your finds! This place is the best! Happy munching!

                                    Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
                                    One Ferry Building, 200 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA

                                    Village Market
                                    4555 California St, San Francisco, CA

                                    La Victoria
                                    131 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113

                                    1. re: KS1

                                      Yes, I haven't actually heard of bombolini from Luis Vellavelazquez at La Victoria, but, while they were a touch inconsistent, the best I've had in town have come from him in his Arlequin days. I'm assuming that, since he has made them during at least 2 phases of his local career, he would continue making them once in a while, or if people started asking about them at La Victoria. Yes, I'll cop to a somewhat selfish hope that posting a teaser about La Victoria would generate a little bit of buzz in their ear to offer them if people went in looking for bombolini.

                                      There's enough other stuff out on 24th to make it worthwhile--a stop at Philz, Dynamo Donus, El Delfin, La Palma Mexicatessen, or Humphrey Slocombe could all blunt the disappointment if there aren't bombolini.

                                      La Victoria
                                      131 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113

                                      1. re: SteveG

                                        Actually, their blog mentions a pastry box that includes bombolini, so he's still making them for sure. Call in advance to find out if they have them or they can make you a dozen in case they aren't a regular item.

                      2. Exciting news everyone!! The bomboloni is back at the Ferry Building. I was there yesterday and noticed a table outside Village Market. When I checked it out, it was bakery boxes filled with three types of bombolonis!

                        The woman (who sounds like a temp worker for Village Market, working just on Sundays to sell the bomboloni) says the store realized how popular these were when Boriana sold it so they decided to sell it starting about three weekends ago.

                        Even though they looked a bit more brown than what I remembered, the shape and texture is just like the bombolonis Boriana sold initially before changing supplier. I tried to find out from the woman who the supplier was but she wasn't very helpful and seemed easily distracted by people coming up and checking out the bombolonis.

                        They're selling for $2.50 each. From what I can tell, the woman says it's sold inside the store on Saturday and outside at the table on Sundays when she's around. The flavors yesterday were custard (!!), strawberry jam, and pistachio cream. I tried the custard and it was great, just like how I remembered, with a lot of custard filling. The strawberry jam was good, with deep, rich flavors, if you're into the sweet dark jammy taste. I didn't try the pistachio cream, but will next time. I do hope, though, that the Nutella flavor makes a return as well.

                        This makes me so happy! (Although probably doesn't help my waistline.)


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: singleguychef

                          Thanks for the tip. I am going to have to go down there and try them. Custard was always my favorite.

                        2. Bellanico in Oakland serves a sage custard bomboloni with dipping sauces, and I've had them with brunch and dinner.

                          4238 Park Blvd, Oakland, CA 94602

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: hyperbowler

                            You left out a description of the dipping sauces on the online menu. The word is chocolate, bitter sweet.


                            1. re: wolfe

                              Thanks! BTW, I find Bellanico's to be better than the ones at the Ferry Building. I find the latter to be be uneven, usually with with a big clump of heaviness on one side.

                              4238 Park Blvd, Oakland, CA 94602