WICKER PARK — A bakery offering contemporary and classic Italian pastries is now open in Wicker Park with another location opening in Lakeview this weekend.
Dolci Amori, 2010 W. Pierce Ave., is the latest project of Ciro Longobardo, who also owns Italian restaurant Piccolo Sogno in River West. The Wicker Park bakery opened Thursday, the first of four Longobardo plans to launch this year around the city.
Operating an Italian “pasticceria” in Chicago has long been a dream for Longobardo, who grew up in Naples, Italy before moving to the United States in 1996 to work in restaurants.
Longobardo said whenever he’d return to his native country, he’d discover new and inventive pastries, ones you couldn’t find in the United States, where Italian bakeries felt “a little old fashioned.”
“But when I go in Italy to see my mom and I walk into a pasticceria, the place is so beautiful, there are so many different items, all new, from the usual let’s say biscotti or tiramisu, things like that. So my idea was to bring a chef from Naples, a pastry chef and open some real Italian pasticcerias,” he said.
Dolci Amori’s offerings include a fiocco di neve “snowflake” pastry and a Neapolitan baba on top of more familiar staples like biscotti, cookies and panna cotta.
Longobardo’s Lakeview location opens Sunday at 3025 N. Clark St. He then plans to open a location across from Piccolo Sogno at the former Maillard Tavern, 494 N. Milwaukee Ave., later this summer, followed by a Gold Coast bakery later this year.
But Longobardo’s ambitious vision and expansion of Dolci Amori almost didn’t happen at all.
Longobardo had a stroke in August 2021 that led to an extensive brain surgery. He said he’s “alive by miracle.” Shortly after, his mother died.
He also had trouble bringing one of his pastry chefs to the United States from Italy because of COVID restrictions, although he finally arrived earlier this year.
But amid the challenges, Longobardo said he never considered closing up shop.
“I didn’t want to give up. I could easily give up and say no, ‘this is too much for me.’ But this is what I like to do. This is my passion,” he said. “There were so many things … but here I am now.”
Dolce Amori is serving coffee from Caffe Umbria, which operates a nearby roastery in Logan Square. All of the pastries are baked daily at a central kitchen near Damen Avenue and Fulton Street.
Longobardo said he recognizes Dolci Amori’s Wicker Park location is joining a neighborhood filled with other coffee shops and bakeries, but is confident his will stick out.
“I have all the competition around the corner, Le Colombe, Starbucks. … That’s fine, but to me, first of all competition is good. And then what I have, I’m not competing against them,” he said. “I have all new selection, it’s different items.”
For Longobardo, the bakery is a passion project, one he hopes will translate into a loyal customer base who will stop by to grab treats for family gatherings and parties on a regular basis.
“It’s not about money. It’s about the little review that people write, ‘wow. A new pasticceria opened in Chicago. It’s so good.’ That’s good enough for us,” he said. “The reward that we can get is only to make the customer happy.”
Dolci Amori’s Wicker Park location is open 7 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.
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