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alloccos tribuneAllocco’s Italian Bakery in Cambria offers a taste of the traditional

Allocco’s Italian Bakery on Main Street specializes in baked goods such as cookies, pastries and oval pretzels called ‘taralli’

It’s getting harder and harder to find true traditions anymore, but Allocco’s Italian Bakery in Cambria is rising to the occasion.

Phyllis Simeone yearned for the traditional Italian pretzels known as “taralli” that her mother had made for her as a kid. She started baking the crunchy oval snacks at home, and within three years found herself not only a full-time baker but also the owner of a wholesale gourmet food business.

As the taralli continued to find fans, Simeone’s husband, Bob, joined her in the business, and the couple moved Allocco’s to Cambria in October 1989. They added more pretzel flavors, and began selling them at local farmers’ markets. Eventually, they also opened a retail space — now on Main Street between the East and West Villages. Somewhere along the way, Allocco’s quietly established itself as “the only taralli baker in the Western United States,” Simeone claimed.

The expanded exposure of the retail bakery also allowed Simeone to introduce more and more of her mother’s truly authentic recipes. Among those are focaccia breads, biscotti, cannoli (a fried, tube-shaped, filled pastry), pizzelles (a thin waffle cookie), and about 12 different flavors of tiny, round, traditional Italian cookies.

Like most bakeries, the whole process starts when most people are fast asleep, in Allocco’s case at about 1 a.m. In addition to the Italian specialties, the bakery also makes a considerable amount of American pastries that are sold at farmers’ markets and to local hotels for continental breakfasts.

At its heart, however, Allocco’s is really about the Italian products because “you just can’t get these things in most bakeries,” said Simeone. “We’re really a specialty bakery, an ethnic bakery.” That commitment to tradition includes using high-quality ingredients, as well as doing things like using both the anise seeds and oil in Allocco’s anise-flavored items to impart a very time-honored taste.

“That (licorice) flavor is an acquired taste for most people,” she said, “but it’s one that you grew up with if you grew up Italian.”

She says that while the business is “a labor of love with a little bit of insanity added, I love talking to the people that come in here — from all over the world — that say, ‘Oh, my grandma or my aunt used to make these for me when I was a little kid.’ Or sometimes, even though someone doesn’t have an ounce of Italian blood in them, they lived next door as a kid to someone Italian that made these recipes.”

“Really, we’re a nostalgia bakery trying to keep the flavors of a traditional Italian kitchen alive,” Simeone said. “It brings a little bit of home, a little bit of Italy to the coast, and my whole goal is to keep that alive, something that’s otherwise slowly fading away.”

alloccos food for thougthPublished by Karyn Zoldan September 21st, 2007 in
Food for Thought, Food Travel Destinations, Living Your Dream, Comfort Foods

Living in the desert, the ocean has a special draw for me especially at summer’s end when I feel I’m going to explode from the heat. Thus, I found myself in Cambria along with some good friends and the coolest, cleanest air that I had experienced in awhile.

While everyone piled on warmer jackets, I walked around in a light sweater. I swear that it felt good to feel cold.

Cambria is a small tourist town with not much to do but oggle the ocean view, walk, go shopping, eat, and have cocktails while enjoying a sunset. Not bad for a vacation.

Nearby is San Simeone and Hearst’s castle. To the east is Paso Robles, where some great pinot noir grapes grow and there’s 60 plus wineries (more about that later) and to the south is Morro Bay and Morro Rock, San Luis Obispo (techie college town), and Pismo Beach. The central coast is not nearly as crowded as southern Calif. beaches and that’s still a good thing.

We ate dinner at the Sow’s Ear which was so-so and had drinks at the Moonstone Beach Cafe. Here I learned to play Texas Hold ‘Em poker which will come in handy for a fundraiser that I plan to attend.

One of the best finds in Cambria is this unassuming Italian bakery called Allocco’s. We just peeked inside to pick up some coffee but then I noticed the anise pizzelles. I love pizzelles. When I was growing up, my neighbor Rose always gave us pizzelles. At Allocco’s, there were several flavors of pizzelles but I opted for anise.

Then there were all kinds of wonderful Italian pastries and none of them were too sweet. Sugar did not mask the cinnamon or the lemon or the walnut or pistachio. Everything was really fresh.

Bob — the proprietor was friendly and happy to tell us all about every cookie. Allocco’s has been around for 20 years and most likely one of the most important ingredient to its success is the passion of the proprietors and the friendliness.

Allocco’s also services many of the Italian retail stores in southern Calif as well as Roma Imports in Tucson. So amazingly enough, we had a connection as we both knew the proprietor of Roma by her first name.

So when you’re heading north on Highway 1, get off at Cambria and take the main road and be sure to stop at Allocco’s for coffee (Italian roast), the sandwich of the day, and some wonderful pastries that are worthy to travel the miles home or to the beach for a picnic.


Published by Karyn Zoldan in Food for Thought, Food Travel Destinations, Living Your Dream, Comfort Foods.




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