Just across from Trader Joe’s in Brooklyn Heights is an amazing new place to start your morning. Or have lunch. Or dessert at 4pm. I don’t go to bakeries but I do dream of Sicily and somehow it has come to my neighborhood to bless me with its sugary sexiness.
I once spent three days in Sicily, in the hilltop city of Taormina, home of an ancient Greek temple. It remains, in my memory bank, a site of unrivaled beauty, and food. I went there at 20 and my friend got sick and stayed in the hostel all weekend so I was solo. And I found it wasn’t easy to walk the small town without being proposed marriage to. By the street-side rose seller, the fisherman, or the policeman. I was happy to find a fellow tourist from Sacramento or somewhere less than glamorous, on the second day, and have some sanity during my site-seeing. But now I am not 20, I live in Brooklyn, and I have no problem with that same male warmth that smothered me in foreign lands. Some “Ciao Bella” with my bakery goodness on Atlantic? Not a problem.
This is especially true when the bakery is a divine gift in the form of perfectly balanced almond-flour-meets-butter-and-lemon-zest. Powdered sugar, fresh cream, rum-soaked buns, oh wow. I cannot praise Catania enough, I’ll just leave you with this. I’ve passed on my find to four friends thus far (after another friend promised me heaven in a cake case and introduced me to its holy empire of fresh and fluffy). Each of those friends wore the same expression upon sampling and went through the identical motions: head rolls back, gaze pauses and blink, OMG is uttered, then swallow. “This is ____ (amazing, incredible, exactly like the what my grandma made…).”
One of Catania’s owners is a Roman reality TV star, formerly of Grande Fratello (Big Brother). All of the guys who work there make you feel like a traveler, on the road sussing out the freshest baked goods.