My tour of Greater San Pedro last Friday, guided by “Fig Newton”, concluded with a stop at the newish Amalfitano Italian-American bakery in Rancho Palos Verdes. The sighting of zeppole for St. Joseph’s Day and some background are reported in this thread,
Amalfitano struck me as old-fashioned with an eye to pleasing a diverse San Pedro community. It seems to offer a little of everything, ranging from hamentaschen for Purim and Friday challah, round the bend to baklava, an assortment of America’s favorite cookies and time-honored cakes, strudel for Central Europeans, and sidling up to Italy with cannoli. But then I spotted them. Sfogliatelle!
Heart-racing, I asked the counter lady if they were made in-house or baked off from frozen shipped from Italy or the East Coast. She assured me that this pastry is made right here. I bought just one to sample, here’s what it looked like.
The ultra-crackly, brittle pastry of the first mouthful passed the tooth test. Unlike the frozen variety that tend toward a thinner and not as crunchy pastry shell that softens too fast, the scatter of golden shards of flakey pastry on my dark sweater provided the physical evidence that this was the real thing. The ricotta cheese filling flavored with a bit of orange and/or citron was on the lighter side and not as dense, seeming to have less semolina in the mix.
I tucked mine away for the next day and bought a couple to take to my cousin in San Diego. He had one that night and marveled at the shattering crunch yet supple properties of the pastry shell. For breakfast the next day, I refreshed the rest of my sfogliatella in the toaster oven and enjoyed it warm.
Before driving homeward, I stopped at Amalfitano on Sunday morning to pick up more sfogliatelle. These were equally golden brown and the pastry was the same. However, the filling was a couple notches less sweet and I didn’t enjoy this batch quite as much. I also noticed that the bakery case had some custard-filled sfogliatelle as well.
Maybe it was beginner’s luck, but of the various things I’ve tried, the crunchy sfogliatella was the best. I did pick up a hot cross bun for the ride and it was only fair. The zeppole didn’t send me. But oh those sfogliatelle!
29111 N Western Ave, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275