Baking a taste of Easter in South Philadelphia

At Potito's Bakery in South Philadelphia, the tastes and smells of Easter are drawing in faithful customers.

Joseph Marano was shopping for holiday treats tonight. "They have the best pastries in the city," Marano said, as he surveyed the tempting array treats in the bakery cases of the shop 1614 W. Ritner St.

"People talk about who makes the best cheese steak," Marano said. "I think the real debate is who makes the best cannoli. They make the best cannoli in Philadelphia right here."

The owners, Matt and Cristina Benigno, said they were expecting a wave of customers over the weekend for favorites such as braided Easter bread, wheat pie, rice pier. Matt Benigno, spoke with pride as he pointed to his "original colossal cannoli," a confection more than a foot long and about 10 inches high and stuffed with about more than a dozen small cannolis.

"Our big thing is our custom cakes," said Benigno, who operates the business which has been family owned for 25 years. He pointed to one featuring a volcano and a jeep from a children's cartoon series.

Benigno said he expects hundreds of customers over the weekend. The shop is open on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Easter the store is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., especially to serve neighborhood residents.
"We have Easter eggs, Easter pound cakes, we have everything."

Marano said he has been coming to Potito's since he was a child.

"I grew up two doors down from here, and when I would come home some nights at 2 o'clock in the morning, I would smell them baking. The smell was great," said Marano. "I can't leave without getting the chocolate roll. It's completely addictive."