For years, the smell of doughnuts had customers lining up out the door of this Little Italy bakery. And while the original Presti’s cake and sour cream treats are no more, you still need to grab a number as you ponder four cases filled with Italian cheesecake, amaretto lobster tails, butterball cookies, cannoli and a host of other delights. Behind the cookies and pastries, racks of Italian split-top loaves, Sicilian twists and French epis get a position of prominence — an edible tribute to Presti’s humble beginnings in a Coltman Road kitchen back in 1903. “We make our bread the way my great-grandparents did,” says pastry chef Michael Vaccarino, whose mother Claudia Presti and aunt Sheila Gentile now operate the fourth-generation bakery. “The pastries are newer to us.” Vaccarino trained at the Loretta Paganini School of Cooking, and his creations pair well with this New World version of Presti’s, with its blonde-wood tables and floors, large front windows and expansive cafe menu. “This is my mom’s vision,” Vaccarino says, gesturing at the space where Presti’s relocated in 1999. “She’s the mastermind.” 12101 Mayfield Road, Cleveland, 216-421-3060, prestisbakery.com
Our Pick: With its basket-woven top and sponge cake interior, the torta delizia ($60) is a study in balance that marries slightly bitter almond paste and amaretto with a sweet raspberry or apricot and custard filling.