At 6 a.m. at Lucibello’s Italian Pastry Shop, Peter Faggio is already working his dough. He puts it through a sheeter to thin it out before dividing it into smaller portions. Once the dough is sufficiently broken down — as determined by his expert eye — it goes into a second sheeter on the kitchen tabletop. On the floured bench, the sheet is stamped into its familiar ovals, then coaxed onto metal tubes. Faggio sinks the tubes into the deep fryer. Once they have cooled down, he fills them with the traditional ricotta mixture. By the time the bakery opens at 9, the cannolis will lie in the window display, awaiting the regulars who will claim them.
When we walked into Lucibello’s on Thursday, we were drawn to this display even before we attempted to locate the owner. In addition to the trademark cannoli, an impressive array of other pastries — pasticiotti, rum ba-bas, cream puffs, lobster tails — lined the shelves. As we argued over which ones we would pack away for our housemates, an octogenarian walked in and asked for a half-dozen sfogliatelle and a pound of anginetti (Italian lemon drop cookies) without even glancing at the shelves. Lucibello’s has generated faithful regulars in its dedication to its historical Italian recipes; the store is one of few that continue making sfogliatelle despite the intensive process that requires molding by hand. The clam-shelled, ricotta-stuffed pastry is my [Carolyn’s] favorite, too. “If you have them warm, it’s completely different,” Faggio advised Carolyn. When we finally decided on our selections, a staffer pulled down some red-and-white bakery twine from the ceiling and bound our box.
Peter Faggio, the current owner of Lucibello’s, is the second generation of Faggios to spend his mornings baking at Lucibello’s. In 1959, Peter’s father Frank purchased the shop from its original owner at Chapel Street after being employed there since he was 10 years old. As the shop grew in popularity, the Faggios were able to move to the shop’s current location on Grand Avenue, where thousands of pastries and cakes have since passed through. Despite that change in location, however, the recipes and pastry offerings have remained the same since 1929, passed down over 90 years.
“People get their wedding cakes from here, and then they come back for the same cakes for their 50th anniversary,” Faggio tells us of the massive, porcelain cakes that line the walls of the shop, waiting to be marked with a congratulatory message. “Sometimes, a couple gets married with our cake, and their children come back to get their wedding cake here.”
During my own first year at Yale in 2017, I [Carolyn] accidentally found myself becoming part of the multigenerational lineages that patronize Lucibello’s. On a walk back to Old Campus from a weekly volunteering job, I passed by the bright red storefront and made a spontaneous purchase of several cannolis and cookies to endear myself to new roommates. Later, on a visit to my grandparent’s home, I described my adventure to my Nonni as if I had discovered some new trendy spot, only for her to reply, “Of course I know Lucibello’s!” My grandparents frequented Lucibello’s during their early years in New Haven before moving out to the suburbs to start their family. My father knew of Lucibello’s too, and now my aunt often picks up miniature cannolis to share when she drives into New Haven for dinners together. This little storefront on Olive and Grand truly lives up to its family-oriented atmosphere.
Like many other businesses across the country, the constant stream of pastries produced daily at Lucibello’s was brought to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic in March. They had to close down for several weeks, and many of their usual catering orders were canceled as weddings and anniversary parties were indefinitely rescheduled. Still, since they reopened, business has been steady. Customers have been downsizing their cakes, Faggio notes. But these customers always return to Lucibello’s, a comforting source of stability and fixity in continually changing times.
Jever Mariwala | email@example.com
Carolyn Sacco | firstname.lastname@example.org