Today I went to the best pastry shop in Lucca (perhaps in all of Italy!) and had the pleasure of meeting the owner and master baker, Sandra Bianchi. Pasticceria Sandra & L'Angolo Dolce (the Sweet Corner) is just outside the walls of Lucca, in the Borgo Giannotti neighborhood, a leisurely 10-minute walk from Porta Santa Maria. Judy mentioned this pasticceria in her January post "Outside the Great Walls of Lucca." I made a return visit today to give the shop a post all its own (and to enjoy some pastry!).
Sandra has been making breads and pastry in Lucca for 20 years. She is not just a master baker, but also has a deep interest in keeping her foods beautiful and healthful. She uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, including organic products. Whole grains show up in her breads and pastries and she has earned a certificate of nutritional excellence for her pasticceria. This is definitely the place to give in to temptation and have a sweet treat!
You enter L'Angolo Dolce through automatic sliding doors that welcome you to a modern, bright, and cheery space. Shelves along either side of the pasticceria hold a variety of treats - candies, jams, small cookies, wines. In the back is a coffee bar, with a gleaming espresso machine, organic milk for steaming, and a friendly barista. Stand here and drink your morning cappuccino or head for one of the seats along the counter in the middle of the shop. The counter runs alongside the pastry cases and gives you a front row seat to Sandra's art form. And art it is - stimulating the eyes every bit as much as the palate.
The pastry cases are clear glass, through which the many delicacies can be viewed in all their tempting magnificence. Today, going from one end of the case to the other, I found first the miniatures. So many varieties - little chocolate cakes, tarts with fresh fruit, small cakes topped with almonds and apple, cream puffs and little dishes of tiramisu. Each about two bites of bliss.
Next came the larger items. Beautifully decorated cakes - dense chocolate, a layered stack dusted with powdered sugar and topped with fresh berries, lemon-filled tarts, apple-topped beauties, and a light, airy cake filled with chantilly cream and fragole (strawberries). Oh my!
Continuing down the case, next up are the panini (sandwiches) in a variety of shapes and with many different fillings. I spotted tomato and mozzarella, prosciutto, ham, and frittata. Take out is available for picnic lunches.
Lastly, the breakfast pastries, also with a wonderful variety. There were several types of cornetti (the Italian version of croissants) - vuoto (unfilled), con crema (filled with pastry cream - this counts as a breakfast protein, right?), and dark ones made with whole grain flour. In addition were round pastries studded with raisins, square ones drizzled with chocolate, spirals and twists that looked flakey and buttery, and a little torta di riso (rice cake), which is a local delicacy. I would have to stay here a year to try them all. What a tempting idea! With so many choices I stuck to my favorite, a cornetto con crema. It was hands down the best one I have ever tasted. Along with my cappuccino this made a perfect prima colazione (breakfast). But why stop at breakfast? The lunch menu of salads, sandwiches, and tarts sounds equally delicious.
The pasticceria also has a wonderful selection of other items. At this time of year Easter confections are in abundance. Marbled candy eggs, beautifully decorated chicks and bunnies, elegant dark chocolate eggs wrapped in lacy packaging, small chocolate eggs with pretty hard candy shells, all look almost too good to eat. They certainly make pretty regali (gifts).
When in Lucca, Pasticceria Sandra & L'Angolo Dolce is one of the best reasons I know for venturing outside the walls and entering the "real" world outside the tourist areas. You will be rewarded with artful and delicious treats! Grazie Sandra! -post by JB
Contact: Sandra & L'Angolo Dolce. Via Borgo Giannotti 391. Lucca, Italy