Why is this cute corner bread bakery in South Philly called the New York Bakery? 2nd-generation owner Stephen Candeloro says it's a mystery, and if anyone should know it would be him. The bakery opened in 1926, his father owned it since the 1940s, and Stephen took over from him in 1987.
But what isn't a mystery is why this bakery appeals to Mod Betty - heck just look at that classic vintage plastic sign and matching black and white brickwork. This "authentic vintage charm" is a rarity in an area where stucco is readily applied to repair buildings of a certain age.
But it's not just the exterior that appeals to Mod B - it's their version of a South Philly staple that you'll find at many bread bakeries in the area: Tomato Pie.
Traditionally served room temperature, tomato pie could be considered "pizza without the cheese" but it is tastier than that. A thin layer of tangy tomato sauce (or gravy as some call it) is layered onto dough pressed into a rectangular sheet pan, then cooked until golden on the bottom in the bakery's brick ovens. Their oversized pieces guarantee you will get a nice section of chewy crust, my favorite part.
Sold by the slice or whole for parties, it's a regional treat you just have to try!
If you're lucky and they're not too busy baking, you might be able to step into the kitchen where Stephen will happily show you the vintage equipment his father purchased in the 1950s and are still using today.
He'll also tell you great stories - about neighbors confessing that when they were kids they snuck a coin or two out of the Sunday collection from the parish a block away, just so they could buy a piece of tomato pie. Or how he's managed to keep his marriage happy with a fig tree in the back patio of his adjoining house (he likes figs, his wife doesn't, so there's no quarreling about them!)
Besides tomato pie, the New York Bakery sticks to a few simple classics - Italian style bread and rolls, and and specialty breads during the holidays. On Sundays they bring in danish and bagels to sell to the church crowds. And of course tomato pie is available, hopefully not paid for with pilfered donations!