Autentisk Then, and Autentico Now

Some years ago, a unique stop on my Flavors of Little Levant ethnojunket in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn was Leske’s Bakery, the last vestige of that neighborhood’s Norwegian community. Although specifically Scandinavian baked goods proliferated primarily around Christmastime, Leske’s also catered to the local Italian and Irish populations with first-rate Irish soda bread, Danish pastries and Brooklyn specialties like black & white cookies, blackout cake, and New York cheesecake. It was an unexpected site amid the dozens of Middle Eastern and Yemeni venues we frequented. Sadly, after a long and bumpy run, much beloved Leske’s closed permanently.

Subsequently, I was pleased to discover the arrival of a new bakery in the same digs at 7612 5th Avenue that was equally legit but Italian this time, Il Fornaretto with authentic roots in Italy by way of Bensonhurst.

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

This is one of their takes on focaccia and it was the real deal, topped with onions, herbs and a touch of tomato sauce; they also offered a cherry tomato version.

Being incapable of leaving an Italian bakery without something sweet to look forward to, I selected a sfogliatella (or “sfol ya del” as we pronounced it in my yout’) aka lobster tail (which we never called it).

The inner workings reveal a filling made from sweetened ricotta, semolina, and eggs that evokes happy, high-calorie kidhood memories.

I haven’t tried their artisanal prosciutto bread yet, so check out my Flavors of Little Levant ethnojunket and we can taste test it together!

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