Generations of Italian-Americans found a foothold in the New World here. But now, folks call it "the old neighborhood."
Gary Bencivenga owns Landolfi's pastry shop, a century-old family business that has always satisfied that yearning for a taste of home.
"Whenever we have a party or company, the first thing we do is go to Landolfi's," said a customer.
The customers come for canolis so fresh that they crunch and pastries as delicate and fine as parchment.
But Gary has the neighbors grumbling because he's put the pastry shop up for sale.
"I wept when I heard they were selling this place," said one customer.
"Why is he selling? Why? What are we gonna do? Where are we gonna go?" asked another.
Puccini soars through the CD player at Landolfi's, Italian soul music to accompany Gary as he pours his heart into another batch of biscotti.
"Biscotti actually means 'cooked twice' in Italian," Gary explained.
He never skimps. There are no shortcuts. Gary learned that from his father George, who was taught that by his uncle Henry, who scribbled down the old recipes as Pasquale Landolfi whispered them on his deathbed.
"Pasquale Landolfi has it all in his head . . . all in his head," Gary said.
Gary's dad ran the shop for 30 years and retired to South Carolina. And Gary wants to head South too. But he won't go until he finds not just a buyer, but a successor. Here's how Gary will know when that man comes along:
"I won't know until I get him in the back room and get an apron on him and get him at the bench and see what they have, and the love they have and the passion, that's what they need more than anything," Gary said.
Passion and love are ingredients that make the difference.
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