12 Sweet Midwest Bakeries
You can't cross Little Italy's brick streets without running into an Italian restaurant. A pleasant scent of garlic hangs constantly in the air, and when people need a spot to gather—whether they're members of the big Catholic church, Italian-American men planning to linger over coffee or students grabbing lunch—they usually head for Presti's bakery-cafe at the corner of Mayfield and Coltman roads. It seems nearly everyone at the comfortable tables is related to or went to high school with everyone else.
The third generation of Prestis, sisters Claudia and Sheila, own the business, and Claudia's son Michael Vaccarino is pastry chef. Presti's customers count on finding classics done right. For goods such as crisp-crust Italian bread, Michael counts on recipes his great-grandmother Rose Presti used when the shop opened down the street in 1903. "My grandfather taught me how to make the bread—the family has taught me," he says. "We don't really have things written down."
An Italian influence fills the chalkboard menu: cream-filled crunchy cannoli; 30 kinds of cookies, including pignolia, linzers and biscotti; cake doughnuts; and by-the-slice pizza. The best seller is classic triflelike tiramisu layering creamy marscapone and chocolate with so-light sponge cake moist with espresso syrup.
The bakery mixes tin ceilings with sleek walls—old-country spirit holding strong in a Wi-Fi world (prestisbakery.com; 216/421-3060). - Amber Matheson