Friday, September 21, 2007


The Times reported recently that Italian bakery Morrone & Sons has closed in East Harlem after over 50 years of being part of the neighborhood fabric.

Earlier this summer, the Lower East Side lost Gertel's to an 8-story condo. AMNY has a wonderful slideshow of a place filled with history, where tea was once five cents and hot water was free: "So the old men would bring in their own tea bags, drop them into the free water, and then sit for hours talking about the war."

photo: AMNY

Lost City has some rather heartbreaking photos of the Village's vanished Zito Bakery, which closed in 2004 for a variety of reasons, including rising rent, the high cost of coal, and the war on carbohydrates. Images like this one from Berenice Abbott are only ghosts today:

All these vanishing Italian and Jewish bakeries make me think of two classics in my own neighborhood: Moishe's Kosher Bake Shop and DeRobertis' Pasticceria, both of which haven't changed in years. As the glass towers rise all around them, I worry for these little family businesses. So I stopped recently at Moishe's for a bag of hamentaschen, which comes in apricot, raspberry, and poppyseed. They also have delicious breads -- challahs, pumpernickels, ryes, and more. From the forlorn look of their sign, I think it's time to hurry and taste what Moishe's has to offer.

Today I took a seat in DeRobertis' tile and pressed-tin caffe for a little cannoli and a long, pleasant chat with proprietor Annie. Come back again to read my interview with this vibrant, long-term member of the East Village community as she discusses the changing neighborhood and the future of her century-old shop.


Barbara L. Hanson said...

Many compliments for covering the demise of the city that I've lived in all my life (and, on one side, back to before the Civil War. I hasten to point out that that doesn't mean I'm well off. Underpaid writer and editor and photographer). That said, how could you miss the sugar kichel at Moishe's? They are stacked in a case in the back (you would be facing them as you walk in); ask for a well-done one. Heaven.

Jeremiah Moss said...

the sugar kichel sounds good--i will definitely try it. thanks for the tip!

Barbara L. Hanson said...

I'm very much interested in--and dismayed by--vanishing foods. A lot is said about roadfood and the foods of middle America and the South being preserved, but NYC has its own food culture, which is rapidly disappearing.
I'm still not over the loss of Vinnie's, where I ate lunch on my way to the farmers market for more years than I care to think about.

Anonymous said...

Moishe's used to be Ratner's Bakery, even after Ratner's restaurant had long since decamped to Delancey. I think that it was Ratner's at least as recently as 15-20 years ago.

aaron said...

I have been to GERTELS many times. we bought challah on friday mornings and it was spectacular and well baked. Most store bought challahs today are often gummy, and lack genuine flavor.some are sweet from sugar added.