Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

My least favorite time to go food shopping are the days leading up to the holidays – most notably the week of Thanksgiving. Food markets are a zoo with long lines and shops running out of inventory.

This was the first year that I was up in the Bronx along Arthur Avenue (the real Little Italy) giving a tour on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. And it was just as crowded as anywhere else.

In fact, it felt even more crowded since many of the shops are teeny tiny. Some had lines out the door starting as early as 10:30am (and probably earlier) when I arrived.

None of these businesses sold turkey (except maybe the two butchers on the street), but many Italians who live nearby were stocking up on other ingredients like cheese, salami, olives, and cookies.

And as I brought my group from one shop to another, I got a knowing smile from some of the other customers in line who recognized us from the previous stop. We ran into one guy from New Jersey at Egidio Pastry who jokingly accused us of following him. He then assured the four people I was leading around that I was bringing them to all the best spots.

Well, that’s certainly true of Egidio. Dating from 1912, it’s the oldest pastry shop in Arthur Avenue (one of the oldest in the city, in fact). The current owner is using the original recipes and oven. And she makes the absolute best pignoli cookies I have ever tasted. 

I first fell in love with pignoli cookies at Court Pastry in Brooklyn, where the pine nut cookie has a hint of anise and is crisp and soft inside. But I realized just how good they could be at Egidio.

Made with almond paste and naturally gluten free, these are the softest most perfect Italian cookies I’ve ever had. They strike a balance between a nutty cookie and a soft marzipan. Flavorwise, they are just slightly sweet with the butteriness of pine nuts and a hint of almond. I imagine they are as authentic and delicious as at a bakery in rural Sicily.

They might not be as traditional as pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, but perhaps we should rethink all the usual additions and get in line at Arthur Avenue to fill our Thanksgiving table with fresh mozzarella, soppressata, and these addicting cookies.

EGIDIO PASTRY SHOP
622 East 187th Street (at Hughes Avenue),
Belmont, Bronx
(718) 295-6077
facebook.com/Egidiospastries/
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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