If I’m in the mood for sweets, I usually end up with some cookies or ice cream. But every now and then, the need for great pastries hits my little prehistoric brain. And one category of sweets that unfortunately seems to be lacking in the Triangle is Italian pastries! Back up north, it’s not too hard to find a good Italian bakery offering up cookies, cannolis, and other goodies but down here in North Carolina, the pickings are slim. So if you’re looking like I have been, I’ve got some great news for you: Utica Bakery! Based out of Apex, Utica Bakery offers up some delicious pastries and surprises if you’re willing to make the effort and drive over to the Peak City.
Head on over to Apex and you’ll find a black trailer sitting in a side-lot at 430 Upchurch Street. Grab some street parking, there’s shaded cover overhead for patrons that’s lit up with some cheery, white light bulbs. You can order online and pick up at the window but for those who haven’t pre-ordered, scan the menu on the side. While most of the baked goods are Italian sweets, Utica Bakery also offers up some savory items and breads. For many of the filled items (cream puff, lobster tail, eclair) you can choose your type of filling and they will prepare it fresh to order. Choose from whipped cream, pastry cream, cannoli cream (lemon-ricotta base), and chocolate hazelnut cream. Some of the more popular items are probably the cannoli, lobster tails, and cookies. There’s a vertical display of the goodies right next to the menu!
One item that I definitely enjoyed is the lobster tails! Similar in construction to sfogliatelle, they are funnels of crispy pastry layers baked to a crisp and filled with the cream of your choice. I’d probably do the pastry cream or whipped cream to keep things light. The cherry on top just completes the deal. Utica Bakery is also known for their beautiful cannoli which can be ordered with chocolate or pistachio encrusted ends. The rum baba is a tall pastry that’s drizzled with rum syrup and can be filled with cannoli cream, a classic Italian treat. Utica Bakery’s cannoli cream is quite good with some lemon essence and perfect sweetness.
If you’re a fan of Italian cookies, Utica Bakery has a good assortment. My favorites are the almond paste-based cookie which are moist and chewy. I’ve also seen the classic Italian rainbow cookie on the menu but missed them during my last visit. I’m used to a larger number of cookie options at an Italian bakery but what Utica Bakery has is decent. And don’t forget about the savory treats at Utica Bakery. The tomato pie is similar to a tomato sauce-only pizza sprinkled with parmesan cheese. A large half-tray slab that’s best shared with friends and family. I hope to try out their stuffed breads sometime soon!
Given that it is SO hard to find Italian bakeries in the Triangle, I am so glad to have Utica Bakery nearby in Apex. Their sweets and savories are all well-done and reasonably priced for what you get. The service has been excellent during my visits here, you might want to order online if you want to save some time. I’ve had amazing Italian baked goods having lived in both the Boston and Hartford, CT areas so here’s hoping we get more and better Italian bakery options in the future!