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Pastry shop near Aviano is a sweet surprise

By KENT HARRIS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 20, 2014

There are more than 130 “restaurants” listed on the Trip Advisor website for Pordenone, Italy, a city of about 80,000 people just a short drive from Aviano Air Base.

The highest rated is a pastry shop: Pasticceria La Dolce Mania.

While Italy is known around the world for its cuisine, it’s the main courses — and not the last one — that are generally the best received. In the land of pizza and pasta, desserts are often treated as an afterthought.

And — other than perhaps gelato, and maybe tiramisu — the eyes tend to have a better time than the tongue. Unlike their American peers, Italian bakers seem to listen more to their dentists when creating sweet treats.

So we just had to investigate a pastry shop getting top billing in Pordenone — home to more than a handful of very good restaurants.

Shop owner Giuseppe Sorrentino is from Naples. He moved his family north at the invitation of a former boss, who wanted Sorrentino’s baking skills. In 1999, Sorrentino decided to open his own pastry shop.

Pasticceria La Dolce Mania can be found a few blocks from the main pedestrian area in town.

Sorrentino, who doesn’t speak much English, laughs and shrugs when asked about the Trip Advisor rating. He says it must be the quality of the baked goods and customer service.

That customer service was noticeable during a recent visit. The place is small, with only a handful of stools and a counter for people to quickly down an espresso and/or a pastry.

Sorrentino offers everyone a quick smile, greeting many of his customers by name.

It’s clearly a neighborhood hangout with plenty of return customers.

The shop doesn’t just offer those pastries most associated with Naples. But it has plenty of those for sale.

Sorentino is the main baker. He arrives at 5:30 each morning, more than two hours before the shop opens, to produce the sweets behind the counter.

A few specialty items take the better part of two days to produce. Not everything is that complex. A few others take only an hour or two to make.

Sorrentino’s not divulging his recipes, but he seems to include more sugar than many of his peers up north.

Though it’s possible to get only one item — for about a euro or so — many customers seem to want more. They pick and choose, and Sorrentino or his son, Emanuele, puts the selections together on a small paper tray and weighs them. In most cases, it’s possible to fill the tray with goodies for about 5 or 6 euros.

Does La Dolce Mania rate as the top place to eat in Pordenone? That’s for you and your sweet tooth to decide.

Harris.kent@stripes.com

 

Pasticceria La Dolce Mania

 

Address: Via Vallona 9, Pordenone, Italy

Times: 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3-8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays.

Costs: Pastries, cakes, tortes and pies ranging from about 80 euro cents to 25 euros ($1 to $32); mini pizzas sold by the kilo and occasionally other savory offerings. Espresso costs 1 euro. There’s also cappuccino for 1.40 euros. A bottle of spumante costs 8 euros, a bottle of prosecco 9 euros or two bottles of red wine 2.90 euros.

Attire: Casual.

Menu: In Italian. Might be confusing as some of the products are priced individually, with others priced by the kilogram. Not much English spoken.

Customers: Local Italians, with an occasional outsider lured in by Trip Advisor.

Information: Telephone: (+39) 0434-26630; email: pasticcerialadolcemania@gmail.com

This torte featuring almonds is one of the most expensive offerings at Pasticceria La Dolce Mania, where it's possible to get an espresso and a pastry for a few euros.
KENT HARRIS/STARS AND STRIPES

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