In 1900, 16-year-old Salvatore Ferrara left Nola, Italy with a trove of Italian pastry and confectionery skills and opened up this West Side gem. After achieving a quick burst of success, he put his wife Serafina (aka the Angel of Taylor Street) in charge of bakery operations and joined his brothers-in-law to launch the Ferrara Pan Candy Company
, which still stands in Forest Park, Illinois. Despite forging ahead with Lemonheads and Atomic Fireballs, the family kept the bakery operations moving, and a third generation of Ferraras still helms this Little Italy institution.
Amidst the old woods and inside the gleaming refrigerated cases, you'll find crunchy cannoli with silky ricotta filling, butter cream-tufted tortes, liquor-soaked rum cakes, and chocolate-painted eclairs. The assortment of traditional cookies, which includes amaretti (almond-tinged butter cookies), cashew bars and anise biscotti, will sate the sweet tooth at any family gathering.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant