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Mazziotti's bread rises again in Arnold

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By Charlie Ban
Thursday, June 18, 2009

Eighty-four-year-old Carmella Mazziotti has been giving a lot of hugs lately.

Old friends, strangers and saviors all get loving embraces when they enter the Nicola Mazziotti Bakery. They complement the warm loaves of bread the bakery is selling and the energy customers are bringing back to Constitution Boulevard after a four-year hiatus.

Carmella and her late husband, Nicola, started the bakery in 1958, and it was an Arnold staple until 2005 when their grandchildren closed it to pursue different careers.

Now Mazziotti has taken the opportunity to return to work — after a group of local investors bought the business — and is helping the bakery regain the steady stream of customers that it had years ago.

When Mazziotti isn't at work, she can still watch customers and workers at the bakery from her kitchen table.

She lives behind the bakery and makes a short trip over in the middle of the night to help the bakers prepare the dough.

"If we don't call her to wake her up, she still comes along and knocks on the door at 1 a.m.," said co-owner Nick Lombardo. "She's 84 but doesn't want to take a break."

The bakery has renewed Mazziotti's vigor. She rolls dough for the bread three times as fast as men half her age, late into the night.

She uses the same recipe that the bakery has used for decades and eschews the use of artificial proof boxes, which, she indicates, hastens the crusting process but makes an inferior loaf of Italian bread.

"I feel like I am born again," she said. "I work with them, teach them how I make my bread," she said. "I want them to carry the quality of the bread. My husband had a beautiful reputation, and I want people who come to the bakery to get the same bread as he gave them 17 years ago."

Lower Burrell Councilman David Regoli, a co-owner who manages the bakery's finances, said Mazziotti's experience with almost 50 years in the business makes her the standard from which everyone is learning the trade. Regoli's uncle Sonny Zampogna is another co-owner.

"She can be on one side of a room and listen to the mixer and know if the mixer needs more water or more flour," Regoli said. "This is second nature to her."

Though the Arnold business district doesn't attract as much of a crowd as in an earlier time in the bakery's history, the inventory had sold out almost every day since the reopening May 22, Jen Lombardo said. The bakery also sells its goods in grocery stores in Harrison, New Kensington and as far as Bloomfield in Pittsburgh.

Carl Gregory of East Brady drove an hour Wednesday morning to buy a dozen rolls and a handful of sausage rolls.

"I'm probably going to freeze them and be able to eat them for a while," he said.

The bakery's reputation spread through families that have lived in the area for a long time.

Elvira Mason, a Pittsburgh native who now lives in Alexandria, Va., came to visit her mother in Arnold and decided to try the bakery she had heard about and bring her mother some food.

"She doesn't really like bread," Mason said, "but I think she'll like this."



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