Handwritten Recipes Have Etched Gino’s Pastry Shop Into Bronx History
One bite into a cannoli from Gino’s Pastry Shop takes you on a journey through history. The recipe hasn’t changed since Gino Raguso established the business in 1960. Now, 59 years later, his son Jerome Gino Raguso, still uses the same methods and recipes his father wrote in a cherished notebook.
The handwritten recipes have etched Gino’s Pastry Shop into Bronx history. The Belmont neighborhood is home—Jerome wouldn’t have it any other way. “I never went to college,” he shares, “if you ever read my bio, it says ‘Where did you attend?’ And I say I attended the University of Belmont.” Homegrown relationships are seen with every wave into the shop window. They’re heard when a bride-to-be speaks to Jerome and fiancé Giovanna Petti about her dream wedding cake, and they’re tasted in every bite of the rows of handmade treats.
No matter the distance, fans find their way back. “One guy comes from Boston every three, four months and gets an item called Bones of the Dead,” says Jerome, “This type of cookie—they’re very hard—it’s supposed to be for [All Souls Day on November 2] but we make them all year round.”
Though the assortment at Gino’s Pastry Shop is wide, it’s the cannoli that garners the most acclaim.
Every part of a cannoli is essential and interdependent—just like the Bronx. Being there for the community is a large part of what makes Gino’s so special. When funding was threatened to be cut from the Bronx Zoo, whose foot traffic impacts local businesses in Belmont and Fordham, Jerome transformed his specialty into a pointed message. During a lawmakers’ meeting to discuss the proposed cuts, he delivered cannolis with a surprise twist. “When [each councilmember] opened up the box, inside the box was a cannoli,” he shares, “but inside the cannoli was a handwritten letter that I wrote saying ‘Due to budget cuts, this is what 53% of a cannoli would look like—an empty shell.”
The strategy worked, and the budget cut was reduced. That’s the power of a great cannoli.