NEWINGTON - A local family has re-established their beloved Hartford bakery right here in town.
The South End Café and Pastry Shop is now celebrating its grand opening at 262 Brockett St., Newington. Between a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Newington Chamber of Commerce and greeting customers new and old, the Ciarcia family is enjoying a warm welcome from the community.
Owners Sebastian and Dawn Ciarcia and their children Sebriana and Izayah, 22 and 17, already lived in Newington and decided to move the business to town. For Sebastian’s whole life, the bakery was located on Franklin Avenue in Hartford. He just celebrated his 50th birthday.
“I grew up in the South End, right down the street from the bakery,” he said.
His parents, Maria and Sebastian Ciarcia, still help out at the new place, located right off the Berlin Turnpike in the space previously occupied by Vida Doce Cafe.
“We love the plaza, it’s a nice cozy location and the opportunity presented itself,” Dawn said.
Izayah attends Newington High School and the family is involved with the football program in town.
“We see a lot of people we know coming in now,” Dawn pointed out. “It’s a good feeling.”
The ‘South End’ legacy is still alive, as longtime customers have anxiously awaited the reopening.
“We’re starting to get our old clientele back,” Sebastian said. “It’s really carried over.”
Just the name alone is enough for Turnpike passers-by to recognize and stop in.
Frequent visitors include Newington Police and Hartford firefighters alike. Thursday and Friday lunch specials draw a crowd. Last week was a chicken cutlet sandwich with provolone cheese and sauce. There’s been BLTs, sausage and peppers and this week, the meatball sandwich.
The pastry case is always filled. Cannoli cupcakes are a favorite; classic pistachio/strawberry leaf cookies go by the boxful; ricotta-raspberry squares and tiramisu are popular party desserts.
Breakfast is a whole different ballgame. Older folks, local students and people who work at neighboring businesses intermingle with fresh coffee, breakfast sandwiches, maybe a biscotti or two.
“I really love that, seeing the community,” Dawn said. “When I’m in the kitchen and the tables are full out here I can hear the roar of voices and laughter. We want that family-oriented, welcoming vibe where people can gather and relax.”
Her specialty is breakfast and lunch sandwiches, while her husband can often be found making pastries in the back and their daughter, at the front, serving customers. Maria has particular recipes she’s known for, like the stuffed bread filled with spinach, potatoes and sausage. These roles might switch off any given day, depending on who’s needed where.
“It’s really a team effort,” Dawn said. “Because we’re family, that makes it even better.”
Call ahead for special orders.(860-500-7878). South End Café and Pastry Shop is open Tues.-Fri. 8 a.m.- 6 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. and closed Mon.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or email@example.com.