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Call it a sweet second coming.
Matt and Allison Robicelli, Bay Ridge’s cupcake power couple, are making another bid to taste storefront success — and the pair say making it happen in their own native neighborhood will be icing on the cake.
Hot off the launch of their autobiographical cookbook, the Robicellis soft-opened their new bakery on Fifth Avenue between 90th and 91st streets on Nov. 26, four years after their high-end market two thoroughfares over closed.
Unlike the defunct deli, which made sandwiches and sold an array of gourmet goodies, the new shop will deal exclusively in the desserts that have made the pair’s name famous in foodie circles nationwide. Though the pair have since been running a wholesale baking operation in Sunset Park, Allison Robicelli said she and her husband were eager to open a new retail store — so eager that the store’s interior is still unfinished, leaving the kitchen exposed. Robicelli said she hoped the partially-complete space would fill customers’ appetite for Thanksgiving treats, and grant them unique insights into the bakery business.
“This is going to be a work in progress,” Robicelli said. “People will get to come in and see the nuts and bolts of pastry-making.”
In honor of fall, the Robicellis are rolling out a special line of seasonal cupcakes, such as pumpkin, pecan, and sweet potato. Going forward, Robicelli promised recipes reflecting Bay Ridge’s zesty Italian, Greek, and Arabic mixture, with inspired ingredients such as date molasses, yogurt, and Asiago cheese — all sourced from local stores, including A.L.C. Italian Grocery, Athens Market, and Balady Halal Foods.
“This is going to be like our research and development lab,” she said. “Anything that’s small and different, we pick it up and use it in some way.”
Robicelli said she and her husband — veterans of trendy outlets such as the DeKalb Market and Battery Place Market — chose to open their new store in Bay Ridge instead of a hipper neighborhood out of a sense of native loyalty and pride. The confection queen pointed out that Ridgites who have moved away from the area often come back to complain about how much it has changed — without recognizing that they themselves contributed to the demographic shift.
“If you want good things in your community, you have to stay in your community and fight for them,” Robicelli said.
But the pastry-maker also said she is betting some of the recent changes in Bay Ridge will give her bakery a better chance than her gourmet market ever had. She said that the neighborhood’s relatively low rents are attracting young people from culinary and media circles — many of whom have brought a taste for eclectic cupcakes with them.
“All these creative types are moving here, people who understand the importance of going out and shopping local and staying local,” Robicelli said.
Robicelli’s Bakery (9009 Fifth Ave. between 90th and 91st streets in Bay Ridge, www.robicellis.tumblr.com).
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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