Dining Out: Love in a loaf at King’s Highway Bakery

December 29, 2014 Helen Klein
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Gorgeous loaves of traditional Italian bread are the stars at Kings Highway Bakery, an institution in Gravesend for close to three decades.

But, at this jewel box of a store, the bread is just the beginning. Cookies, cakes and pastries glisten in glass cases, just feet from the double doors that lead to the back, where workers create and shape dough, roll it in sesame seeds and bake it in huge ovens, the old-fashioned way.

If the breads are just like grandpa used to make, there’s good reason for it. The recipes that are the bakery’s mainstay were passed down to owner Rocky Crupi from his grandfather and uncles, who ran a bakery on Smith Street that specialized in bread, made from recipes brought over from Calabria, Italy.

“We don’t compete against anybody,” noted Crupi, extolling the virtues of his house-made olive bread, semolina bread and prosciutto bread, as well as twisted and traditional loaves. “We use the best ingredients and make sure the stuff is fresh.”

It’s also likely to be fresh out of the oven when you come in. “We have hot bread all day,” Crupi stressed. “We bake all day, till 5 p.m.”

Tasting is believing. If anything, the bread was even better than Crupi led me to expect, with chewy soft interiors and crispy exteriors, fragrant and flavorful. I particularly enjoyed the seeded twist ($2, small; $4.50, large) and the prosciutto bread ($6), the latter studded with chunks of meat, making a slice or two almost a meal in themselves.

Their popularity is, therefore, no surprise. Crupi – who started the bakery with his father back in 1986 — does a large wholesale business locally, delivering his loaves to delis, pizzerias and sandwich shops. He also has a growing Internet business, Brooklyn Bread, which ships the fresh loaves far and wide, to people who, he said, need their fix of Brooklyn bread.

Local customers need their fix as well. Crupi said that many customers come in almost daily for their loaves. “They are like family because I see them almost every day because everyone needs their fresh bread,” he noted.

They also come in for the selection of sweet baked goods, including many traditional Italian specialties such as Struffoli and Panettone that, said Crupi, many bakeries don’t turn out any more.

Certainly, sampling the Struffoli ($14.95 per tray) was a delight. The honey soaked balls of dough piled dramatically into a pyramid and garnished with colored sprinkles are as delicious as they are festive, as were the biscuits ($6.49 per pound) and the fancy cookies ($13.95 per pound), both of which beguiled the eyes and tantalized the palate.

For Christmas, the fancy cookies included ones shaped like candy canes, colored red and striped with white icing, and sugar-sprinkled Santas. The biscuits, in a range of shapes and textures, are perfect for nibbling out of hand or dunking into coffee.

For a real treat, try the Rainbow Cookies ($16.95 per pound) or the Pignoli cookies ($22.95 per pound). The former are taller and wider than those made at other bakeries, cake-y and delicious. The latter, studded generously with pine nuts, have a macaroon-like texture that makes them darn near irresistible.

Like everything else displayed in glass cases and on platters, they are clearly made with passion.

“I was born into a baking family,” noted Crupi who can be found at the store on a daily basis. “I didn’t have a choice. But, I love what I do. It’s my way of life.”

292 Kings Highway
Brooklyn NY 11223
Monday-Saturday, 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

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