New Kensington's Nicola Mazziotti Bakery continues tradition of freshness
Dave Regoli has never seen the critically acclaimed 2002 romantic film “The Bread, My Sweet,” shot in Pittsburgh.
But he might be able to identify with the leading man, Dom Pyzola (portrayed by Scott Baio), who finds balance from the stress of his corporate day job by going in early to bake at the Strip District biscotti company he owns.
The Lower Burrell lawyer and city councilman is one of three owners of Nicola Mazziotti Bakery, helping carry on a tradition begun in 1958 by the late Nicola and Carmela Mazziotti when they opened their bakery in Arnold, building a solid foundation of customers that continues today at the new retail location in New Kensington.
“(Carmela Mazziotti) always said it was the best bread in the world, and almost 60 years later we are still making the same bread,” Regoli says.
When people find Regoli on the job at the bakery, they ask, “You're a lawyer. Why are you doing something like this?”
“I enjoy going down and getting lost for four or five hours making the bread or getting products ready,” he says. “It's good therapy.”
All three owners (including Regoli's uncle, businessman Sonny Zampogna of New Kensington and teacher Nick Lombardo of Lower Burrell) love to cook, he says.
This is considerably more than just a business venture for Regoli.
“When I was growing up, I never had American bread until I was in grade school. I didn't know what American bread was,” he says. “Every day, my granddad got bread from Mazziotti's. When I went to law school, Carmela packed me 10 to 15 loafs, whatever I could put in my car. I've known her my whole life. It's an honor to carry on for her.”
Mazziotti's has been so important to so many people, he says, “because so many people in our area love a tradition. People like to go into a traditional bakery to buy freshly made baked goods. This is a hometown bakery.”
The new owners purchased the bakery in 2009.
Regoli says, “Most of our products are original, made from scratch, recipes handed down for a long time,” including those of Carmela Mazziotti. “Our customers know they will get freshly baked goods. There are no preservatives in our breads.”
The location on busy Freeport Road allows passersby to easily stop in for coffee, bagels, doughnuts and more in the mornings and return at the end of the day to pick up homemade bread ($4.75 for a 2-pound loaf; $3.50, 1-pound) for dinner.
The cinnamon roll ($4.75), designed by Lombardo, is legendary. “It is a very unique product. It is super-sized, not the typical cinnamon roll you get at the grocery,” Regoli says. It weighs about a pound and only fits in a 9-inch box.
“People are amazed at how big it is, but it doesn't stop them from buying it,” he adds, laughing. “There's enough for four or five people.”
Doughnuts (89 cents each) are at, or near the top of, the store's popularity chart. “We've always been known for the big monstrous doughnuts and had a lot of requests for scaling back the size,” he says. “They are still big, but not as big as they used to be. I don't think people feel as guilty eating them.”
Bear claws are $3.25 and $3.60 each. Fruit-filled (including apple, cherry, blueberry and peach) turnovers made daily are $2.50 each.
A changing variety of cookies of various sizes are offered, including a box of a dozen for $4.99. The four-ounce gourmet cookies are $1.35 each.
On the outside chance that sweets aren't on your mind, pepperoni rolls are $3.75.
“Carmela (who died in 2011) showed us how to make them,” Regoli says. “It's nice to carry on her recipes.”
White pizza ($6) is available on weekends: tomatoes, cheese and seasonings on Mazziotti's pizza shell.
A new addition are special-occasion (including wedding) cakes from Carolyn Goldscheitter Piskor of Cakes by Carolyn.
The bakery is not a sit-down facility, but one has the feeling that customers would not mind staying a while in this space designed to have a Tuscan look with rough plaster walls, earth tones and photos of Italy.
“I think Carmela would be very happy that her name still lives in the bakery. Her name meant everything to her,” Regoli says.
Mazziotti's Bakery, 2211 Freeport Road, New Kensington, is open from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. Details: 724-334-2555.
Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or firstname.lastname@example.org