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
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.
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.