After 37 years of preparing sweet treats for the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, John Belushi and Frank Sinatra in Manhattan, pastry chef Joe Monaco has finally opened up his own shop, and it’s in Brooklyn – on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge to be exact.
With close to four decades of experience at the East Village’s famed Veniero’s Pasticceria and Caffe under his belt, Monaco decided to strike out on his own.
Joe and Elizabeth – his wife of 42 years – recently sold their three story home in Bensonhurst and moved into their son’s Bay Ridge Coop apartment, investing the proceeds from the sale into building what could easily be a contender for Brooklyn’s best bakery.
From Daily News:
“The freshness is unmatched,” said Brad Fiorillo, 36, a gym manager and four-times-a-week customer who was buying three chocolate croissants and a pound of cookies on a recent weekday. “I found it because I was walking across the street and I could smell the pastries. It’s that good.”
Born in Naples, Monaco moved to the U.S. at age 17. Once in Brooklyn, he got his first job scrubbing pots and pans at the still-thriving Court Pastry Shop in Carroll Gardens. The head chef there would leave out leftover dough so the younger guys could use it to practice the techniques and recipes.
“There was no school you went to for this,” Monaco said. “You learned it by being in the kitchen.”
All that Monaco learned by experience is on display in his namesake cafe and bakery, including a kitchen crammed full with stacks of handwritten recipes compiled over a lifetime in the business.
Customers say Joe’s attention to detail is paying off in the pounds of pleasing cookies, cakes and pastries on display.
Monaco’s Bakery and Cafe is located at 8511 Third Avenue, between 85th Street and 86th Street.