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Zeppole Countdown 2010

BarmyFotheringayPhipps Mar 1, 2010 03:21 PM

I know St. Joseph's Day is still close to three weeks away, but I'm ready for spring to get started already. Anybody seen zeppole yet?

  1. s
    Scruffy The Cat Mar 1, 2010 04:59 PM

    I'm getting ready. Haven't stopped by Antoine's in Newton yet, but I like theirs a lot. How many can one decently eat between now and the 19th? ;-)

    1. BostonZest Mar 1, 2010 05:37 PM

      We declared the season open back in January when we saw the sign in Maria's window. It was delicious but big and very filling.


      We plan a major tasting in the next week for to write a full report for an assignment on the Boston zeppole scene so I'll be reading with interest for highly recommended places. There are so many styles. What's your favorite?


      3 Replies
      1. re: BostonZest
        southie_chick Mar 1, 2010 05:46 PM

        Got one at Mikes last Friday. They had 3 types - whipped cream (which I got - was pretty good), pastry cream, & ricotta, which had chocolate chips or shavings. I'm not sure if the chocolate was just around the edges where the ricotta was sticking out (kinda like how a cannoli is) or mixed into the ricotta filling.

        1. re: BostonZest
          BarmyFotheringayPhipps Mar 1, 2010 06:07 PM

          I'm a traditionalist: pastry cream and cherries.

          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
            BostonZest Mar 1, 2010 06:35 PM

            I'm with you Barmy, I'm originally from RI where the Zeppole were a lot smaller. But, pastry cream, feather light pastry shell and a cherry on top with just a smear of fruit inside are what I remember from my early zeppole adventures.

            We may have to included Federal Hill in this tasting spree.

            We used to buy a dozen of them to share with a few of friends-- but then I was also a lot smaller then and didn't have to worry so much about how much I ate.

        2. Aromatherapy Mar 2, 2010 03:20 AM

          I think the season has been expanding. Arthur's and Modern (Medford) have had signs up for a while now.

          1. CocoDan Mar 2, 2010 04:41 AM

            Saw them at "Fratelli's" in Quincy as of last Saturday. Will continue at leasdt until at least Santa Guiseppe day. I get full just looking at them. Hard to beat my Uncle Joe's.

            1. q
              quirkydeb Mar 2, 2010 04:57 AM

              Got some at Patsy's Pastries in Somerville a couple of weeks ago. We tried the ricotta (no chocolate. Just sweetened ricotta) and pastry cream with cherries (on the inside). They also had whipped cream, but we didn't try them. They were our first zeppole and they were delicious enough to make me look them up to try to figure out what they were. The dough was light and the perfect foil to the fillings.

              I would be very curious to hear what an experienced zeppole eater thinks of Patsy's.

              1. b
                buffet king Mar 2, 2010 05:39 AM

                I got a zeppole with ricotta from Modern Pastry in Medford last Friday. The zeppole's are $3.00 each. It was a pretty good size, very fresh and very good.

                5 Replies
                1. re: buffet king
                  BostonZest Mar 8, 2010 05:51 PM

                  We did the traditional pastry cream and black cherry version at Modern in the North End. It was so good that it went to the top of our list.

                  Their version has black cherries in syrup and they let the syrup drizzle over the edges so the bottom half of the pastry soaks it up. Photos here: Drool warning is in effect.


                  Does any one know if these are available at Modern beyond March 19th?


                  I have to get one more of those before the season is over. Photo here.

                  1. re: BostonZest
                    BarmyFotheringayPhipps Mar 8, 2010 05:54 PM

                    I *think* they may have them at Modern up until Easter, but don't hold me to that. Better to just head back up there this weekend!

                    1. re: BostonZest
                      catsmeow Mar 18, 2010 04:46 PM

                      After reading these posts, I went to Modern in the North End today and got one. I'd never had one before and was very disappointed. There was 1 black cherry in the whole thing...no syrup like in your picture. It reminded me of a Dunkin Donuts french cruller with pastry cream.

                      1. re: catsmeow
                        BarmyFotheringayPhipps Mar 18, 2010 06:29 PM

                        I'm definitely sorry about the relative lack of cherries, but actually, "French cruller with pastry cream" is a pretty good shorthand description of a St. Joseph's zeppole.

                        1. re: catsmeow
                          BostonZest Mar 19, 2010 06:31 PM

                          Oh No, they really don't know us at Modern so I assumed everyone would get what we did. Not nice that you didn't get the syrup. I remember being asked each time if I wanted the black cherries and I said a resounding YES!

                          Maybe that was a reaction to my love for them but I've had it that way other times.

                          I wish yours had been dripping with cherries and syrup too.

                          Penny Cherubino

                    2. Pia Mar 9, 2010 08:18 AM

                      Went to Maria's for zeppole after reading this thread. Now, the only zeppole I knew of was the carnival kind, which is really just fried dough, so I guess I have never had real zeppole. But I thought it tasted exactly like a French twist doughnut from Dunkin' Donuts, except with pastry cream in the middle (which was kind of grainy) and the syrupy cherries. I can't say how it compares to the other places, but for me it wasn't worth the trip to the North End.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Pia
                        heavydee Mar 9, 2010 10:06 AM

                        Sounds like you didn't get a very example of the style, which is unfortunate. My experience with zeppoles growing up are as a once a year treat (on St. Joe's day only) from our local Providence bakery (Mario's on Douglas Ave.), and I've never found anything in Boston that compares. For that matter I've never found a loaf of Italian bread that compares with Mario's either, but that may be more of a function of fond childhood memories than an objective comparison. I remember having a good zeppole from La Contessa in Davis, though it's a shame they are no longer around.

                        Anyone know if Royal Pastry on Cambridge St. does zeppole or have an opinion on it? I suppose I should just go by and see for myself considering it's just down the street.

                        1. re: Pia
                          Desineguy Mar 11, 2010 04:38 AM

                          You actually had "real" zeppole in both versions you tried. However, the ones made for St. Joseph's Day are usually filled. Growing up I used to go to Federal Hill and they had the heavy fried ones with the cherries for Lent. On the day itself they made more of a cream puff version with an orange-ricotta or whipped cream filling.

                          I had one in NY a few weeks ago that was carnival-style hot fried dough cut open and spread with half grainy prune-cream and half lemon-whipped cream cheese and then dusted with sugar and the requisite candied cherry. So, I guess anything fits the category.

                        2. j
                          JoJo5 Mar 9, 2010 10:16 AM

                          I had one a week ago from Antoine's in Newton. There was a handwritten sign in the window. It was pretty good. I'd call ahead.

                          Antoines Pastry Shop
                          317 Watertown Street, Newton, MA 02458-1322
                          (617) 527-9193‎


                          3 Replies
                          1. re: JoJo5
                            Allstonian Mar 14, 2010 10:59 AM

                            Barmy and I got a couple of zeppole at Antoine's yesterday afternoon, along with a couple of just outstanding hot cross buns (light and tender, yeasty, filled with finely diced raisins and candied fruit. Might could have stood more spice in the dough, but possibly our new favorite.)

                            But I digress. The zeppole, even enjoyed a full 12 hours after we bought them, were really, REALLY good. Modern has much better cherries, but the ones from Antoine's had a better pastry cream, and at least as good pastry. Tough call - I'd happily take either one, depending on where I happened to find myself on a day in early March.

                            1. re: Allstonian
                              BostonZest Mar 14, 2010 11:27 AM

                              Time grow short and the list of places to try grows. Thank Allstonian and Barmy! You have done your part in the great Zeppole hunt.


                              1. re: Allstonian
                                Ralphie_in_Boston Mar 17, 2010 06:49 AM

                                Had the EXACT same experience at Antoine's over the weekend, with my exact same account of the hot cross buns.

                                With the main exception that the zeppole didn't have a CHANCE of lasting 12 hours with me ;)

                            2. nsenada Mar 11, 2010 10:04 AM

                              Time play "guess where the Zeppole is from?"

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: nsenada
                                CocoDan Mar 11, 2010 11:29 AM


                                1. re: CocoDan
                                  nsenada Mar 11, 2010 12:01 PM

                                  Modern - really good, actually lighter than I thought it would be. Got a birthday cake there (strawberry shortcake) and couldn't resist the zeppole as an impulse buy.

                                  1. re: nsenada
                                    StriperGuy Mar 11, 2010 12:45 PM

                                    Those ROCK at Modern.

                              2. v
                                vesuvia Mar 12, 2010 01:53 PM

                                Here's a request to all the Italian nonne reading today...

                                I'm making zeppole next week with my Italian class students and I need to make a quick and dirty version of zeppole. I've seen them baked AND fried, as in together in the same pastry, and I'm wondering if they'll be too much like a cream puff if I just bake them? Anyone have a simple yet authentic recipe?

                                Grazie in anticipo!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: vesuvia
                                  StriperGuy Mar 12, 2010 02:15 PM

                                  You have a very auspicious screen name. There was a classic bakery in NYC for many years called Vesuvio. A proper zeppola (singular) should be fried.

                                2. p
                                  PAUL Mar 12, 2010 03:53 PM

                                  They start at Domenic's in Waltham on Monday. I work there on Fridays so say hello if you stop in.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: PAUL
                                    Buddernut Mar 13, 2010 06:39 AM

                                    As a HUGE Domenic's fan, I have to say I think the zeppole are the best around. I'm a disciple of Modern Pastry for everything pastry....but the zeppole at Domenic's are perfect. I actually stopped in Maria's yesterday and brought home a few, as Dom's don't start till
                                    next week. Although the pastry cream inside was very very good, the zeppole pastry was shamefully disappointing. Maybe its the demand and quality could not keep up?? The shells had a slight off-putting burnt fryolater taste...were not light and airy and yes, like a bad french cruller. Maria's is my second go-to in the N.E. after Modern, but I also got a couple black & whites (Hers are more in the NY style) and I felt they were a bit dry and stale. Also picked up a few iced lemon cookies for my elderly mother....dry and stale. No moisture or chew to the cookies. I was in shock !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, To Dom's-- to Dom's. I'll be 500 pounds before Easter !!

                                    1. re: PAUL
                                      JoJo5 Mar 17, 2010 04:23 PM

                                      I went to Domenic's today to pick up zeppole. What a disappointment! The custard was so eggy smelling that I couldn't eat it. The pastry part was superb though. Me sad.


                                    2. b
                                      baldbert Mar 14, 2010 07:04 PM

                                      I thought classic zeppole was simply topped with powdered sugar, shook up together in a paper bag and eaten? what happened?

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: baldbert
                                        BarmyFotheringayPhipps Mar 14, 2010 08:48 PM

                                        We're talking about Zeppole di San Giuseppe here: totally different beast.

                                        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                          Joanie Mar 15, 2010 05:44 AM

                                          After all this talk, I schlepped in the crap weather to Modern (at least the subway and parking gods were with me on my various stops) to try this zeppole. One person ahead of me in line, the bad weather was good for one thing. I asked what the options were, wasn't sure what the best flavor was to have. She said an option was lobster tail cream which was a combo of ricotta, custard and one other thing I think. I think my bad luck continued cuz I got a lemony custard, sure didn't notice any ricotta in it and it didn't remind of a lobster tail at all. It was pretty good sized, not overly fried, the other half held up pretty well 4 hrs later. I also got a bar with nuts and kinda mincemeat flavored stuff in it which was okay, $4.50 for the two. I think I'll just stick with a lobster tail, available all year long.

                                          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                            baldbert Mar 15, 2010 06:17 AM

                                            got it, thanks.

                                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                              BostonZest Mar 15, 2010 08:25 AM

                                              Barmy and Baldbert, the other ones sound like fried dough at a carnival or street fair. Is that also called Zeppole? I haven't run into it but I don't get to that type of event.


                                              1. re: BostonZest
                                                Allstonian Mar 15, 2010 09:02 AM

                                                Yes, there are two different items both called zeppole - the filled ones, which seem to be pretty firmly seasonal to St. Joseph's day (3/19), and also a smallish unfilled fritter, usually either sugared or tossed with a honey glaze.

                                                In many parts of the US, the fritter style zeppole are not seasonal but more of an Italian street fair food (in that way more like fried dough.)

                                                1. re: Allstonian
                                                  baldbert Mar 16, 2010 05:39 AM

                                                  Used to be that zeppole were a new york city street food, like roasted chestnuts, hot dogs, and soft pretzels. 3 for a quarter. they were smaller than a baseball but bigger than a golf ball, fried while you stood there, dusted with sugar, and eaten on the spot.

                                                  1. re: baldbert
                                                    StriperGuy Mar 16, 2010 07:40 AM

                                                    I grew up eating NY style zeppole as you describe them. These are way different. I am sure in Italy there are MANY different styles...

                                                    1. re: baldbert
                                                      treb Mar 18, 2010 10:14 AM

                                                      That's how I remember them, no cream filling and certainly not baseball size.

                                                  2. re: BostonZest
                                                    BostonZest Mar 16, 2010 05:59 AM

                                                    Thanks to both of you. I love chowhound food anthropology!

                                                    I learn so much hangin' on this web corner.


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