Madonia Brothers Bakery
I have long questioned the wonderful hoopla surrounding Arthur Ave breads. A friend got a whole bunch for a weekend away and couldn't stop talking about it. On another post of mine from a while back I mentioned I grew up on bread from Camarari's in Brooklyn and to me that has been what I compare all others too. My friend got three different kinds. Provolone Bread, Olive Bread, and Semolina.
Provolone - if a bowling ball was edible this would be it. To me it tasted like the pieces of wonder we'd press together like silly puddy as a kid. Provolone taste? I didn't get any. Many people said it was delicious, but most agreed, a bite was about all you could handle.
Olive Bread - some pieces had one olive, some had about 10. those were almost too salty to swallow. The bread wasn't as dense, but too dense to do anything but rip a few bites off of. And it's not like you could make a sandwich with this, because the olives were too overpowering.
Semolina - no Camarari's, but delicious. Perfect for wrapping an Italian sausage off the grill in (which I did). Delicious crust, which was just right, not chewy, not stale. Best of the bunch.
I'm always willing to try anything, but I was left unimpressed by the breads as a whole, although I'd love some semolina to soak up the juices from my roasted pork lunch!
Madonia Brothers Bakery
2348 Arthur Ave, Bronx, NY 10458
I've never bewn a fan of anyone's "speciality" breads, but Madonia's semolina is fine. Addeo makes a very nice whole wheat pane di casa; for much more rustic and memorable bread, go east a few blocks on 187th St to Terranova. Superb bread and foccaccia, and as it might be in a small town in Basilicata.
Although I, too, have been unimpressed by the breads on AA, I will say Madonia does make one bread that I think it absolutely stellar. Surprisingly for this type of bakery, that bread is the multi grain loaf, which comes in two shapes--vaguely round and vaguely long. For this bread alone I would walk many blocks.
Madonia's multi grain is exceptional - and the provolone bread is one of my favorites with this caveat: it MUST be cut thick and toasted. That brings out the provolone flavor, and with a little salted butter, makes a great piece of toast.
IMO, distinctly better regular breads can be found both at Terranova (which, AFAIR, has a coal oven), and Addeo's (where I believe Roberto gets the bread for his restaurants, and a fine bread it is). Addeo's also makes my favorite lard bread.