February 20, 2009
THE Vesuvio Bakery on Prince Street in SoHo was much adored, even among those who never patronized the venerated establishment. The bakery, with its often-photographed lime green storefront and its rare coal ovens, began producing Italian bread and biscuits in 1920. It was a remnant of a time when many more immigrants from Italy, and far fewer designer shoe shoppers, walked the neighborhood’s cobblestone streets.
For much of the bakery’s life, the business was run by Anthony Dapolito, a beloved neighborhood figure who died in 2003. Mr. Dapolito was born the year his parents opened the bakery, and as a boy, he delivered the bread on a horse-drawn wagon. Later, Mr. Dapolito became a widely known community advocate, and the bakery served as a meeting spot.
“People would go in there, buy a loaf of bread and complain,” said Frank Genovese, the proprietor of Milady’s Bar, another longtime establishment, which is next door to the bakery.
Mr. Dapolito sold the bakery shortly before he died, but the business survived, at least in name. The new owners converted the interior into a cafe and offered items like tiramisu lattes.
It's gone now. Things change. I'm thankful I was able to eat Vesuvio buns and bread over the years. I remember my grandparents, much loved by all who knew them. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi? Yeah; and it leads to something else: a new world, a world like that of the Pilgrims creating a place for my grandparents and Vesuvio's Bakery and Americans today and tomorrow. I'm thankful for what I've had. I will be thankful for what I get, should I be so lucky again.
A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:
And here are some reviews and comments on said book: