Anna Artuso’s Pastry Shop-McLean Avenue

 

I could not be more proud to have “Artuso’s” as the locals call it, the first post on this blog as they, in my opinion, (which is worth about a 1935 NYC Subway Fare-.o5 cents ), embody everything this entire blog is about.  There is a history behind this bakery, a tradition, a family, a story, an immigrant story, success and so much more.

Artuso’s is also a part of a delicate fabric that is the “little Ireland” neighborhood of Yonkers.  The south east area of the city that stretches from McLean Ave and the NYS Thruway, east towards the Mount Vernon border and flanked to the south by the Woodlawn section of the Bronx.

When the bakery opened in 1966, the Artuso family name had already been branded on two other stores, one in Mt.Vernon and one off  of Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.  The baby of the family though had a strong woman at the helm in Anna Artuso and while she only exists now in memory, recipe and pictures that can be seen around the tiny bakery, what she started in the 60′s still exists today.

The bakery itself is small, narrow and a place where you are forced to say “good morning”, “Hey Tommy hows it going?”, “excuse me miss” etc…45 years have gone by since the doors opened and guess what… the exact same door still exists there today!  That was one of the first things I noticed about this Yonkers gem.

The owner would tell you that it is the service and quality of ingredients and all that jazz that brings people back time after time but I beg to differ.  I mean Artuso’s has become an institution, hallowed ground to some.  People who are now decamped in Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, Ulster counties, 75-100miles away from Yonkers STILL flock to the bakery.  If you are traveling down to New Jersey to see a relative, you must stop here to pick up your bread and cookies and nothing else will do!  If you want a cake made, it HAS to be Artuso’s I know what your saying, bakeries are a dime a dozen….but they are NOT Artuso’s!

These sentiments are not my own, but have been muttered by generations of New Yorkers who grew up in Yonkers or the Bronx and grew up with Artuso’s Pastry Shop on McLean Avenue.

The cookies many say are the best part about Artuso’s but I think that pinning down a best part about the bakery is like trying to solve the mystery of the cosmos.

My fear sometimes is that people in the future will turn elsewhere for their brownies, cakes and other goodies.  A supermarket perhaps so that they can also pick up diapers, milk and paper towels.  There is something very New York about going into SPECIFICALLY a bakery. Yes I can get flowers at Walmart along with everything else, but going into a flower shop and having a FLORIST assist you is an experience that will always out weigh the stellar customer service of Walmart or any of the “marts”.  I like to call them “farts”, not because it makes sense, but because I enjoy rhyming, but I digress.

God only knows how long this scene has been taking place. Two guys from the neighborhood come into Artuso’s, “hey umm…gimme me a ( insert your favorite pastry here ____ )”  I mean this is a bakery, where customers are being served by the owner or the baker or someone who is the son or daughter of the owner, or in this case, the founder’s grandson.

A large picture of Anna Artuso herself looms over the register and I simply love the gesture she has in the picture, as if to say “what do you want huh?”  I imagine she was a lovely woman with hundreds of stories and I regret never having the chance to meet her despite the countless number of times I was in the bakery as a kid.  I like to think my father shook her hand at least once but who knows.

Yummy Cakes!  Artuso’s also does, and in my opinion better and more creative cakes that you see on shows like “Cake Boss” The owner says he has been doing those for 20 years, so take that Cake Boss!

The prices are still very reasonable but again, Artuso’s is NOT about price.  It is NOT their service, their ingredients, their smiles, their selection, it’s something much much larger. It’s this.

And this.

And this.

And perhaps most importantly, this.  Tradition, a name that means something.  I told the owner that he could probably double his prices and people would STILL come to Artuso’s.  Again, it’s not about price, location, any of that.  It is a family business and a place people care about, both those who serve and those who are being served.

I hope that this post will serve as a template for things to come on the Myyonkers blog.  Yonkers is a special city that cannot be fully understood by a map or a newspaper article or by a single person or place. Yonkers needs to be dissected, peeled back layer by layer and in my opinion, the city yearns for a chance to exploit itself for who it really is and what it stands for.

—Joshman

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Posted on April 26, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. My family has been going there as long as I remember, going back to when my grandfather was a student living in NY. I have yet to find a pignoli cookie which lives up to theirs, and the cake creations are incredible! Along with the history and the integration into the community, this bakery will always hold a special place in my heart.

  2. Not only is Artuso’s my favorite bakery, but Grandma Anna was the best. She always greeted everyone with “Hi Dolly,” and listened to each and every story that customers told about how long their family had been coming to Artuso’s. I am waiting to go get a coffee Italian ice and some pignoli cookies ASAP!!

  3. my husbands’s family have been in this neighborhood for ever, and so have my husband and i! generations of us have been going to artuso’s and am sure my kid’s will to!

  4. excellent choice

  5. My family who grew up in the area, now live in PA. When I go to visit them, they always ask me to pick up something in Artuso’s. Basically it doesn’t matter what…everything is delicioso! Thanks Artuso’s for being there.

  6. Please let us never forget all the Artuso family have done and still are doing for our veterans. I am sure all those cookies that have been sent overseas since the vietnam war have been greatly appreciated. Wonderful people with big hearts.

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  8. The Petti Family

    Ahhhhhh …. Artuso’s …. walked there as a kid with my grandmother who lived on King Avenue and my parents who lived on Virio. Grandma Anna knew when I came in ” hiya Dolly, chocolate again?” which was my favorite Italian ice. She knew my grandparents well – as she made my parents and both my uncles wedding cakes as well as mine… and my grandma would stop in every Sunday after church @ St. Barnabas for pastry …. oh, and then there’s every holiday, birthday and anniversary – Artuso’s was always on the table for dessert. And anywhere we were a guest, right after the invite was confirmed, the next word would be “and you’ll bring the Artusos, right?” I live in Arizona now and every time I get back home, always always always I drop in at Artusos to hand carry home the bounty and show the southwest what REAL Italian pastry tastes like .

    • Thats funny you say Arizona because that is where I am right now! I come back here a few times a year because I have family here. Yea Artuso’s is one of a kind and still just as busy as ever! I’ll tell them you said hello and thanks for reading MyYonkers!

  9. eileen lombardi

    Anna’s is the best! My family has been going there for 30+ years. i cried when Anna passed. she was always so loving to my children. and the family continues the tradition. i have been to many Italiian pastry shops, but there is not one in brooklyn, on Federal Hilll, in Providence,or little Italy in NYC, that can compare. Anna’s has the best pignoli cookies anywhere and the cannolli are fresh and to die for. The neighborhood is fun and her son is the motivator behind the McLean ave St Patrick’s Parade and the September merchant’s festival. Both are fun times for all.

  10. First of all I would like to say terrific blog!
    I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind.

    I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing.
    I’ve had a tough time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out.

    I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the
    first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted simply just trying to figure out how
    to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Thanks!

    • Well you have to find what works for you by being willing to try many many different things, environments, etc. Write with music on, write with music off, write in the AM, the PM, late, early, coffee shop, in bed when you first wake up with your laptop, it’s all different. In my mind, I would love to be a writer who can sit in his bed with his laptop as the morning sun rises and crank out a page or two but I know myself too well and I can’t. I write better at least in late morning let alone afternoon and evening and even late night. So yea, find your time, your environment, etc. I like to listen to music as well, wrote much of this blog to the music of Explosions in the SKy, an Austin texas band.

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