"How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?" Julia Child

Great bread is hard to find. Moving from NYC to Hoboken wasn’t too much of a change- still lots of great restaurants, bars, pizza, etc… But moving from Hoboken to Long Island- not as easy- in the food department, that is. Old school Italian bakeries and delis are no longer every few blocks as they were in Hoboken. While I’ve been hunting for the best local pizza since I moved to GC, I’ve also been searching for some good Italian bread. Real, hand-made brick oven bread; not the kind you buy at the supermarket that tastes like Kleenex. So when a friend said Cardinale’s in Carle Place is the best bakery in Nassau County, I knew I would be visiting soon.

I made my way on a recent Sunday afternoon. Let me admit that I am usually turned off when I walk into a bakery and it doesn’t remind me of the benchmark for bread-baking greatness–Dom’s in Hoboken. Unlike Dom’s, Cardinale’s didn’t have an old cardboard box as a doormat, looked like it had been painted within the last 30 years and the owner didn’t great me with a short grunt between cigarette puffs (in fact, I was greeted by a rather cheery hello –guard up). In short, my original impression was that Cardinale’s was a little too “frilly” to be laser focused on the great art of bread-baking  (to be fair, I should add it is not as frilly as Buttercooky — in fact, Buttercooky actually has their own personalized Buttercooky doormat. Ugh).

I got past this original impression when the assorted aromas began dominating my thought process. The focaccia smelled great, looked great and tasted great. I went with the roasted red pepper and balsamic. The crumb cake was also a good choice, as were the Italian cookies. And the bread was… simply stated, molto buono. There were rows of big, crusty, brick oven-baked loaves that could not be resisted. I served the bread to some fellow bread lovers later at dinner and they also agreed- it was a very good loaf and the best we’ve found so far. The crust was particularly crispy and tasty. I would put that aspect of the bread up there with my all time favorites.

In sum, I recommend you get there and sample a loaf.  I can hardly wait until tomatoes are in season to enjoy this bread with some quality olive oil, basil, fresh “mutz” and red wine (in fact, I will probably not wait until tomatoes are in season).

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