Monday, January 25, 2010

Visiting the Cake Boss: Carlo's Bakery, Hoboken NJ

Over the weekend, we thought we'd take a drive up to Hoboken (our old neighborhood) and see what the Cake Boss was up to.

The massive line up outside
Carlo's Bakery at 5:30 pm on Saturday evening:

More chaos inside:

Apparently it could have been much worse, Kris' coworker Pete says that sometimes the line up gets so long it wraps around the entire block. Crowds can also get riotous during the occasional Buddy-sighting.

Despite a TLC disclaimer posted on the front door, we didn't see any cameras around during our visit. Once inside, a bakery employee hands you a number, followed by 25 minutes of standing uncomfortably crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers. At least there were some pretty cakes to stare at during our wait:

I couldn't help recalling how different it was 8 years ago, when we used to walk by Carlo's everyday during our commute to NYC. Very quiet, no crowds, just a non-descript Italian bakery. We occasionally stopped by after dinner for some tiramisu, and even contemplated ordering our wedding cake from there after noticing the cake displays in the window.

During our visit on Saturday, the bakery staff were suprisingly unphased by the crazy crowds, super friendly and very efficient. And though we didn't get to see Buddy (he was in a meeting, according to his sister Mary), we still left happily carrying $25 worth of goodies.

chocolate and raspberry rugelach (buttery creamy deliciousness):

mini cannolis (filling was perfection - with a hint of vanilla/cinnamon/citron and the occasional chocolate chip, shells stayed really crisp even after 2 hours), small 'lobster tail' (flaky, crunchy pastry shell filled with a thick custard whipped cream), & chocolate hazelnut biscotti (chocolaty, packed with hazelnuts):

linzer tart (crumbly buttery cookie, generously filled with raspberry jam):

rainbow cookies (raspberry jam between layers, frosted with chocolate on both top and bottom):

Have to admit we were a little disappointed in the rainbow cookies - at $18.95/lb, the cake layers were a bit dry and didn't contain enough almond flavor. I also prefer versions that contain both apricot and raspberry jam (Carlo's only uses raspberry). But they get major bonus points for actually doing a labor-intensive 7-layer version (5 layers of cake, 2 layers of chocolate), as most bakeries only do 3 layers of cake and a layer of chocolate on top.

Overall, a fun and delicious experience at Carlo's Bakery, totally worth the 'designer' prices and the wait (and the $10 we spent for parking after being at the bakery for over an hour).

Carlo's Bakery
95 Washington Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 659-3671



Kris said...

More Cannoli's and Lobster tails please! Those were my favorites!

Jenn said...

Mmmm...cannoli!! I've seen several episodes of Cake Boss. Funny show. That's a really crazy line outside. I can't imagine how it would look with it wrapping around the block.

Sue said...

Very cool! I adore Buddy. Too bad he wasn't there, but at least you saw Mary.

See you soon!

KennyT said...

Do you think the shell of the Cannolis and Lobster Tails stays crisps and crunchy after a long trip from US to HK?

Heavenly Housewife said...

I haven't seen that show Cake Boss, I guess it hasn't come to the UK yet, but after visiting that website, I see what all the fuss is about. What a yummy selection of goodies you got to eat. I am loving the look of that Rugelah. It reminds me of the time I went to zabars and bought the cinnamon one. I had a fun time getting through that bag LOL. It kept me awake while I was looking through the Guggenheim. Divine.
Looks like a fab time daaaaaahling.
*kisses* HH

Anonymous said...

Those cakes and pastries look excellent! What a fun bakery visit!

Phyllis said...

Kris: We can go back whenever you want (start saving up for parking)

Jenn: Was even crazier inside! Definitely worth the hype.

Sue: Apparently when Buddy is there, bakery sales shut down because the staff is too busy selling merchandise (for Buddy to sign). So I guess it's good that he didn't make an appearance because we really wanted some pastries. See you soon :)

Kenny: Haha Kenny, I'm not so worried about the shells staying crisp - the cannoli cream would turn into a science experiment by the time you get it in HK. Looks like you'll just have to come and visit me here!

Heavenly Housewife: You would love the show, the cakes are beautiful and the staff are incredibly entertaining (very Jersey). I don't have tons of experience with rugelach but these ones were delicious. Going to check out Zabar's next - thanks for the tip, daaaahling!

5 Star Foodie: Yes, was a fun visit. I'm still dreaming about their cannoli...

Tangled Noodle said...

How in the world do you and Kris remain so slender?! I might have purchased one of these baked goodies and called it decadent . . .! Still, I'm happy you did so that we get to see what other wondrous treats the Cake Boss offers. BTW, are you two planning another food 'crawl' soon? 8-D

Anonymous said...

Does Buddy make a Snooki cake?

Phyllis said...

Tangled Noodle: Haha...we're really not that slender if you look closely! Yes, we went a bit overboard at Carlo's that day, it was a lot to consume in one or two days, but I think what happened is that I got progressively greedier staring at pastries while waiting in line, and when they called our number I just ordered everything I saw (oink!)
ps. of course I'm planning another food crawl! Is there any doubt? LOL

Phyllis said...

Anonymous: no, but they did have cream 'poufs'

foodhoe said...

That is a serious line for a bakery at night! But the pastries look fantastic.

Jessica604 said...

Everything looks great! I love reading about NYCs cannolis and lobster tails, I only wished that there were some here!

The rainbow cookies make me smile - I remember watching "She-Devil" (bad C-movies from the 90s) and rainbow cookies were in them! Someone should do a "featured food in movies" post.

Phyllis said...

foodhoe: yeah, the line freaked us out but we were very determined to get our pastries! It's amazing what I'll endure in the name of food :)

Jessica604: Trade places? I'vebeen missing Vancouver a lot lately! She-Devil- is that the movie with Roseanne? LOL! 'Featured Food in Movies' is a fab idea. I've always wondered what 'butter beer' tastes like (Harry Potter) and most recently, I've been wanting to make the braised cucumbers from 'Julie & Julia'

Nikki said...

Carlo's is sooo good! I'm glad you recognized the staff for giving good service--they are amazing at juggling the crowds!

Phyllis said...

Nikki: Hi Nikki, thanks so much for visiting. How cool that you are interning at Carlo's Bakery!

Anonymous said...

I heard you are moving I hope not. I am comming to visit your bakery in Nov.please dont move, love your show, cant wait to visit your bakery, Im comming from Colorado.

Diane said...

My husband ordered a birthday cake as a surprise for me since I'm a huge fan of the show. It was absolutely delicious. We also took home a couple of lobster tails which were out of this world. Got to see Buddy, Mary, Grace and even Mama. They all autographed a hat I purchased from their store. Very nice, friendly atmosphere, although I have to say the line was almost completely around the block. Worth the wait though.

Phyllis said...

Diane: Definitely worth the wait to see Buddy and the gang. Your husband is awesome for surprising you with a cake! Thanks so much for stopping by :)

chopstickz said...

Wooow those pastries look fantastic. I live in Poland and unfortunately don't have an opportunity to try Carlo Bakery's goodies. I watched possibly all the Cake Boss episodes and ever since craved Italian pastries and desserts. Those Lobster tails look amazing and i might just drop in to New Jersey to buy a couple with pink filling!

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