With biscotti, tantalising torte (cakes), and creamy cannoli on the shelves, it’s hard to stick to one dessert. In ‘little Italy’ – Leichhardt and Haberfield – and beyond, there are a few standout pastry shops that’ll make your coffee break even sweeter. Some are run by pastry prodigies, and others by Nonnas. Often, the best ones are insider secrets: you won’t find fancy websites or Facebook pages, but trust us, they’re there – and doing a brisk trade in treats.
For a taste of la dolce vita, make your way to Maggio’s. A bakery and café rolled into one, it has a delectable selection of Italian sweets, including bombolini – a fluffy, Tuscan-style doughnut coated in sugar and stuffed with pastry cream. The tutti frutti cake pairs well with a coffee, and come Christmastime, the panettone filled with Chantilly and chocolate is a real gift.
463 Miller Street, Cammeray
This pasticceria claims ‘Papa knows best’ – and he sure does. It’s famous for its baked ricotta cheesecake (one of the best cakes in Sydney). Made with soft, creamy ricotta, shortcrust pastry, icing sugar and cinnamon, it’s phenomenal on its own and even better with strawberries and a dollop of Nutella. Pasticceria Papa also whips up Ferrero Rocher mousse, profiteroles, and amaretti (Italian macaroons).
Five Dock and Haberfield
Family-run, dessert business Mezzapica is one that’s been around for what seems like forever. On any given day, you'll find a queue of customers waiting to tuck into the tiramisu, buttery biscotti, rum balls and apple crumble tarts. Mezzapica also has a cake studio, where professional pastry chefs run cake-making and decorating classes, and whip up beautiful creations for special occasions.
Gledswood Hills and Leichhardt
In the Hills District, Dolcettini is the dessert king. With a slew of awards to its name, anything you order is guaranteed to be good, from the Nutella croissant to the doughnut oozing with raspberry jam. For special occasions, ask Francesco to make the Pretty Woman Torte, complete with vanilla sponge, orange, chocolate custard, hazelnut milk chocolate mousse, caramelised almonds and edible flowers.
Dural and Castle Hill
Over in Burwood, Pasticceria Mancuso has been a sweet tooth’s dream since day one. Owner Alfonso and his team specialise in cakes – though masterpieces is a better word. The strawberry mascarpone, black forest and tiramisu torte fly off the shelves, as does the bianco e nero: a profiterole tower smothered in chocolate hazelnut cream.
228 Burwood Road, Burwood
At Stockland Mall, this pasticceria is a welcome pit-stop for shoppers. Giuseppe Caruso and his crew of pastry chefs make everything from ricotta cakes and tiramisu to the more mainstream mud, red velvet and mille foglie cakes. But their pride and joy is the ‘bazooka’, a collection of cannoli wrapped in a giant cannoli, with a bow to boot.
Kiosk 7, Stockland Mall, Polding Street, Wetherill Park
More trendy than traditional, this shop sits on the site of Fernandes Patisserie. The new owners still whip up Portuguese tarts, but almost everything else is Italian-influenced. Treat yourself to the baked cheesecake or honey and almond slice, and wash it down with a decadent Nutella hot chocolate. For something savoury, the spinach and cheese roll hits the spot.
402 New Canterbury Road, Dulwich Hill