Original Ferrara Co. offers Old World taste

CHICAGO Talk about legendary. The original Ferrara Company recently celebrated its centennial. Founded in 1907, the bakery still cranks out all kinds of Italian specialties-- and this time of year, the holiday spirit is full of flour, sugar and ricotta cheese.

For the past century, the Original Ferrara Company has been a Taylor Street stalwart; one of the city's first true examples of authentic, Italian baked goods. Salvatore and Serafina Ferrara's picture still hangs in the entrance, and while workers from the nearby hospital can stop in for a quick lunch, they're more apt to pick up some homemade sweets.

"Some of the real Italian pastries would be like the rhum babas, the pastachoux, sfogliatelle, and of course, cannoli," said Bill Davy, Original Ferrara Inc.

Cannolis begin with sweetened ricotta cheese, sugar and cinnamon.. piped into fried cylinders of dough. They're dusted with powdered sugar and finally, each end is dipped into some finely-chopped nuts.

Cucidati is Sicilian in origin. The holiday cookies are made year-round.

"Cucidati is figs with citron, we put in apricot and some pecans."

They're topped off with some icing and a handful of multi-colored sprinkles. Another holiday favorite is the strufoli, a sweet, edible pyramid.

"We only make at Christmas time. It's creampuff dough, same thing we make our large cream puffs with, we just make the little small balls, warm up some nice honey mixture, put the honey all over, hold them together, and if people like, we sprinkle the top with candy."

Cakes are also big business. Their cannoli cake is one of the most popular. Beginning with a bottom layer of cake topped with vanilla custard and sliced strawberries.. the second layer is topped with that cannoli filling, along with chocolate chips. The entire cake is then surrounded by sweet, white frosting.

Davy says even though the original residents have moved out, beyond Taylor Street.. people still travel from all over the region to get a taste of the Old World.

"Now the neighborhoods changed a little bit, but the Italian pastries are still popular."

Another outstanding specialist focusing on Sicilian baked goods, is Pasticceria Natalina, an artisanal Italian bakeshop in Andersonville.

Original Ferrara Bakery
2210 W. Taylor St.



Also mentioned:

Pasticceria Natalina
5406 N. Clark St.



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