No Little Italy is complete without a pastry shop to anchor the neighborhood. Belmont in the Bronx is fortunate to have Egidio, which has been crafting gorgeous desserts (and rich cappuccinos and espressos to accompany them) since 1912. Long bowed glass counters display Italian and French delicacies—éclairs, Napoleons, and cream puffs. Butter cookies, biscotti, and firm almond biscuits called quaresimali are less decadent options. Cheesecakes are a definite attraction—the chocolate chip version has a firm texture and is dotted with dark-chocolate shavings. The spongy, moist yellow cake that form the base of the Italian Napoleons have enough structural integrity to support the creamy custard; the entire square is coated with powdered sugar—more an afterthought than a kick, as the flavors here are more substantial than sugary. But it’s the cannoli that are candidates for New York’s best, with flaky shells and flavorful but not oversweet fillings. The shop, housed in an old brick tenement, sells Italian ices in warmer months. Inside are take-out counters and table service, with paper plates and plastic forks underscoring the informality. A renovation in 2003 has left behind generic furnishings, but Egidio still feels authentic. Hard-working owner Carmela Lucciola is a frequent presence, often living by the Italian proverb on the back of the staff’s shirts: "Life is uncertain, so eat dessert first."Extra
Pastry platters and wedding and birthday cakes are also available.