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Dining Out: Family-run Flemington bakery remains true to Italian roots


When you bite into a pastry, cookie or cake from Italian Bakery & Espresso Bar in Flemington, N.J., you are biting into recipes developed during 100 years of family history.

Jack Mannino operated a pizzeria when he first came to this country but wanted to return to being a pastry baker, a job he trained for and loved in Sicily.

In 1985 he opened the first Italian Bakery & Espresso Bar at Circle Plaza in Flemington. In 2001 he and son Joseph and daughter Rose moved the bakery to its current location on Reaville Avenue.

Jack Mannino passed away in 2003, but the family tradition of making Italian cookies from family recipes using quality ingredients continues with his children.

“We love the town and our customers,” said Rose Mannino, who is proud of her family’s history of making treats and great coffee.

Joseph Mannino is the main baker for the shop, which specializes in traditional Italian pastries, but also makes American favorites such as danishes, cheesecakes, pies and wedding cakes.

The bakery bustles with customers during the holidays, when many come in search of the flavors of their own family histories.

“People love to come in and remember when they ate different cookies or pastries with their parents or grandparents,” said Rose Mannino.

The Italian Bakery features seasonal favorites including cassata cake, strufali (honey balls shaped as a tower), homemade marzipan and imported Italian favorites.

But you don’t have to have an Italian heritage to enjoy the beautiful treats at the bakery. “We want people to experience what it’s like to visit a family-run bakery,” said Rose Mannino.

Many bakeries in Bucks County and elsewhere have closed, she pointed out, so the time to enjoy those that are left is now. At the Italian Bakery, enjoying a quality cappuccino or espresso is a bonus on a chilly day.

The shop is located in the Staples shopping center in Flemington; a satellite coffee shop can be found in Raritan, N.J. The Manninos use all fresh ingredients, no preservatives and bake on a daily basis. They are known for their pignoli cookies and other Italian treats, cannoli, cheesecakes and pies.