Caputo Bakery, Brooklyn, NY

Five generations of the Caputo family have built on tasty Italian traditions in the heart of the Cobble Hill neighborhood.

story & photos by Bakery Boy

 

Walk by Caputo's Bake Shop in Brooklyn's Cobble Hill area and the wonderful aroma will draw you inside. Photo by Bakery Boy

When my nephew Nick, who grew up in the same family bakery I did, recommended Caputo Bakery in Brooklyn, I knew it would be special. Nick is as much of a Bakery Boy as I am, with a similar lifelong habit of sampling bakeshops everywhere. During five years of living in New York City, he’s scoped out some winners.

James Caputo, who worked 10 years as a Wall Street stock trader before rejoining the family trade alongside his now semi-retired father James, represents the 5th generation to run the business established in 1904 by his Sicily-born great-great-grandfather in Brooklyn’s largely Italian Cobble Hill neighborhood. That beats my clan by a couple of decades (I’m a 3rd-gen baker, Nick is a 4th), but I felt right at home. “Few people know it,” James says, “but my mother’s dad had a bakery too, a couple of blocks from my dad’s, so I’ve got bakery ancestors on both sides.”

Even from outside, I was impressed by the variety of great-looking breads stacked on trays and in baskets in the front window. Without hesitation I bought a crusty loaf of French bread for $1.90 to snack on while I checked out the rest. Before long I was asking a saleswoman—who sniffed at, but politely ignored, my crumb-dropping—to bag up a loaf each of Semolina Golden Raisin (with fennel), Multigrain (with whole wheat, oats, sunflower seeds, millet, flax, and cracked wheat), Cranberry Walnut Multigrain, and Sweet Onion Focaccia.

Wha, you don’t want the Scalita and the Olive bread too?” the saleslady mock-scolded while packing my order. Okay, I conceded, add one each of those—the first a dense, dry Sicilian loaf good for dunking in soup, the second glistening with an olive oil smear. I lived off of Caputo’s bread and hardly anything else for the next couple of days, with a smile on my face.

“LARD BREAD” The name seems more like a warning than a selling point in these health-conscious days, but Caputo’s has a loyal following for its rich, flaky, fat-friendly loaves ($4.25 each). Break one open and spy chunks of pork salami, bits of melted provolone cheese, and specks of course black pepper. It’s an acquired taste, habit forming to some but worth a try to all. (To see a photo of Caputo’s Lard Bread, click here for a recent Village Voice article.)

BEYOND BREADS Bread takes center stage at Caputo’s, but this well-rounded Italian bakery produces other noteworthy goodies too. Excellent biscotti, butter cookies, and tart little lemon cookies stand out. They also make beautiful strawberry and other fruit pies, chocolate layer cakes, pound cakes, cupcakes, and brownies.

SIXTH IN TRAINING? People in family businesses get asked all the time: Is a next generation, a 6th in this case, coming along? “My kids are just 6 and 7 years old,” James says, “so let’s not put that pressure on them anytime soon. My dad encouraged me to go out and try something else, and I did, but I couldn’t be happier now that I’m back here. We work long, hard days and have three trucks delivering to restaurants, grocery stores, and institutions, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We know most of the people who walk in the front door because Caputo Bakery has been a part of this community for a very long time.”

LOCATION 329 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231 (near the corner of Court and Sackett, two blocks from the New York subway system’s Carroll Street Station)

HOURS Mon-Sat 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun 6:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

INFO 718-875-6871

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11 responses to “Caputo Bakery, Brooklyn, NY

  1. Caputo’s has – hands down – the BEST Olive Bread IN THE WORLD!!!

  2. You’re making me wish I had some Caputo Olive Bread right now! But I’m half the country away from Brooklyn at the moment. Thanks for finding the Bakery Boy Blog on Thanksgiving Day. – Bakery Boy

  3. I just like to ask James if his multigrain bread is made with whole grains or the grain is refined because if it’s refined and the bran and germ removed all the nutrients are missing.

  4. I have been eating Caputo’s lard bread since I was a child growing up in Brooklyn and Greenwich Village decades ago. I now live in Vermont and every time I drive down to NYC I go into Cobble Hill and pick up 6 loaves to freeze and it is still as amazing as the first time I tasted it.

    • That’s good to hear. You’re not alone in your devotion to Caputo’s. I continue to get a steady stream of visitors coming to this particular Bakery Boy Blog story years after I posted it, and usually it’s people who web-search “lard bread” and find my site. Break off a piece for me next time you’re there. — Bakery Boy

  5. Josephine Passaro

    I grew up eating Caputo’s lard bread, and sesame cookies OMG! Since I moved to Florida 7 years ago, no one here even heard of lard bread 😦 So I ventured out to make my own, well unfortunately, I have to use dough from a grocery store (at least it is not frozen), but my problem is that I cannot add everything in the dough itself. I have to roll it out and then add the pepper, cheeses and meats. Everyone loves it, but I hate that when I roll it up, and after it is cooked it looks like a hollow loaf of bread :(. Is there any way I can get the bread recipe so I can incorporate all of the ingredients myself? I have tried different recipes for bread but it does not have the texture that I am looking for. Any suggestions? Please?????

    • Kudos to you, Josephine, for trying to re-create Caputo lard bread at home. It’s terrific stuff! Off the top of my head, I’m going to suggest you ditch the pre-fabricated grocery store dough and go back to experimenting with incorporating all the ingredients into fresh dough you make from scratch. I don’t have a recipe for you that specifically addresses the situation, but here are some starting thoughts: Make your basic bread dough with the lard kneaded in and let it rise once or twice, punching the dough down between rises, to let the gluten develop into a good stretchy texture. Then fold in the meats and cheeses, all cut into small pieces, but work the dough as briefly as possible, just enough to spread those last ingredients out evenly. Allow another rise in your dough bowl, then mold the loaves into the shapes you want. Wait for one final rise and then into the oven they go. With some luck and a few trial efforts, any “hollow” pockets you get should be minimal and confined to just the area immediately above the pieces of meat. Let’s both try this a few times and then compare notes, okay? Good luck! –Bakery Boy

  6. Pingback: Nostalgic Musings about New York, Longing for Cannoli & Thoughts About the Green Festival, April 19-21

  7. Jean guerriero

    Am looking for the recipe of a Italian cup cake it is made in a mold you press the dough in the shell and fill it with a cream made with lemon corn starch than put a dough on top and bake. I had this recipe for years and it was givin to me by caputo and I moved and lost it I know it began with a. C if you can send the recipe to me I would be forever greatful
    Jean guerriero

  8. Yes most delicious bread. My dad Ruben was a baker there in the 1970’s, may he r.i.p. His bosses were so kind. We used to live across the street at 320 Court Street.

  9. Italian baking at its best! Truly one of Brooklyn’s sweetest treasures.

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