Last week John De Robertis broke the sad news that his family’s 110-year-old East Village pasticceria would close on Dec. 5. It might be even sooner — when we called De Robertis Caffé today, an employee told us “anywhere between Dec. 3 and 5.” With a goodbye message now up on the window and the beloved bakery about to serve its last cannoli, we rounded up some of the sweet memories commenters shared with us last week. They’re paired with a few more photos from Frank Mastropolo’s shoot.
“I grew up on East 10 Street. Our big delemma was what size Lemon Ice and Espresso Ice to buy on a Sunday afternoon for the family!” –Nancy Rose Hurley
“So many memories – My mother, Anna Cuccia, grew up in East 16th Street & Avenue A until their house was bought via eminent domain so Stuy Town could be built. They then moved all the way to East 10th between 1st & 2nd. Cakes for family occasions came from DeRobertis, as well as the delicious Italian Ices in the Summer. We knew everything was well made because for awhile, my family supplied the ingredients!
My personal favorite: the chocolate filled cannoli!” –Josephine Valente
“I’ll never forget all the times my dad and I would come here for the most delicious Italian ices. One day I broke my arm and my dad came flying down tenth street with ices in hand and put them on my arm to keep the swelling down.” –Natalie Moran
“When I was a little girl growing up on East 12 street, one of my favorite memories of a long, hot summer day was going to Rosemarie Pizza for a slice, and running across the street (sometimes in the middle of the street and not at a green light) to DeRobertis for a lemon ice. Little did I know that I would one day be so fortunate as to have my cousin, Mary marry GG and become part of a wonderful family. So, even though I will truly miss my morning biscotti, I am happy to have my family with me from now on on the holidays and happy they will be able to enjoy a much deserved retirement!!!” –Maria
“My grandfather Vincenzo Traina was one of the original Mr. DeRobertis’ bestfriends. Many a day or night my grandfather would be at the pastry shop hanging with his friends. They were all from Italy. All our holiday pastries, everyday pastries, and birthday cakes came from DeRobertis. The bakery across the street could never compare in our book. When going into the store I always tried to visualize the days long past where my grandpa would sit and drink his coffee and smoke his pipe ( will always miss that pipe) and talk and laugh with his friends.” –Lucille Traina Sullivan
“I arrived to NYC in 1979. DiRoberti’s was our hang out. Late night cappuccino and an assorted plate of mini pastries. Countless visits too numerous to mention followed over the years. The owner Mrs. D fainted behind the counter once when I was there.( May she rest in peace.)” –Bonnie Sue Stein
“My family and I own a restaurant on the jersey shore. One day, my father is greeting people at the door and this family comes in and John comes up to my father and he said you look familiar so as they are going back and forth they realize they knew each other from the DeRobertis coffee shop. My dad was amazed of his memory, it was probably the time Gigi was on the milk crate . My dad told me Gigi ‘s father was a great man he would let my father call his mother back home in Italy to let her know every thing was ok . That meant a lot in those days, a simple phone call was a big deal being in an unfamiliar place, the DeRobertis family was welcoming and the store was like home.” –Benny D’Aloisio
“When I moved to the East Village in the late 70′s I didn’t know a soul. I found De Robertis and was welcomed in the morning for coffee with the gathering of senior Italian men who were always there and who felt like surrogate family. These guys were a stern but accepting comfort. It was a small thing but an important buffer that helped me make a home in the city in those early days. Later John and his wife contributed cookie plates to my early benefit parties and always made the post show Cassada (sponge cake) to help celebrate the moment.” –Stephen Petronio
“When our family moved from East Harlem in 1965, my mom asked who had the best pastry and was told DiRobertis. That still holds true to this day – it’s still the best pastry shop I know. My friends all knew how much I loved it too. No cannoli was ever as good as DiRobertis’, and my friends would try and fool me but it never worked. I could always spot a fake.” –Teri Jarosh