HOW THIS CO-OWNER OF A NEARLY HALF-CENTURY-OLD BAKERY SHOP, RECENTLY EXPANDED TO RED BANK, LEARNED BUSINESS AND LIFE LESSONS FROM HIS DAD
BY AMANDA McCOY • PHOTOS BY CHRIS LOUPOS
Every morning at 5 a.m., pastry chef Anthony Campitiello begins his day at the Victory location of Alfonso’s Pastry Shoppe. As the co-proprietor of the nearly 50-year-old business, his daily duties vary; he’ll finish a specialty cake, throw a loaf of bread in the oven, order supplies, or anything else that needs to be done before heading over to the Red Bank location. The chef has worked full-time for the bakery since 1985, though his memories of it date back a lot further.
“I was seven years old,” he recalled. “We lived right down the block from the original one on Manor Road. When we got in trouble, we got sent to work [here]; we’d stand on milk crates washing pots, stuff like that.”
The pastry shop was the brainchild of Campitiello’s father, Alfonso, who opened its first location in 1970. The patriarch was introduced to the art of baking in his hometown of Pagani, Italy. Upon immigrating to the United States, he sharpened his gustatory skills at the Plaza Hotel and Hampshire House. When Alfonso took the leap of faith of opening his own bakery, he had no idea that he would create a legacy.
“My dad was my biggest inspiration,” added the younger Campitiello. “He’s a man who came to this country with a couple of dollars, and built an empire.”
Campitiello began officially working for the bakery when he was in high school, looking after the store at night and “perfecting his decorating skills.” As graduation neared, he was faced with the decision of either working full time or going to college. He opted for a more hands-on education, studying culinary techniques and business operation under the tutelage of his father.
“I gravitated toward hard work, chores, and jobs, so the work aspect never scared me,” he said. “And creativity always piqued my curiosity. I went from pot washing to decorating to managing… things I would have never learned in school. Plus, what little boy wouldn’t want to work with his dad?”
A Staten Island staple, Campitiello and family recently expanded to Red Bank. Their bakery items include cakes, cookies, pastries, freshly baked breads, Italian biscuits, and more. The same classic cannolis that won over the hearts of borough residents 49 years ago are still on the menu, too, and every item is crafted from scratch and baked fresh daily. In addition, the new Red Bank location includes an eat-in dining room and a line of lunch items, from homemade Sicilian pizza to focaccia sandwiches.
“To be a great pastry chef, you have to have a great level of creativity and drive,” said Campitiello.” “There is a certain ambition you have to achieve to be successful and always stay on top of your game.”
With his father now retired, Campitiello oversees the Victory Boulevard and Red Bank stores with the help of his wife, Jill. To sweeten the deal, his three oldest daughters, Diana, Christina, and Angie, have also joined the business.
“It was important to keep the family involved,” added the chef. “It adds a special touch that you cannot get from corporate America. My wife is my advisor and business confidant. I couldn’t do it without her. And my kids…they grew up the same way I did. They grew up here.”
Alfonso’s Pastry Shoppe
1899 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island / 718.273.8802
86 Broad Street / Red Bank, NJ / 732.212.8802 / alfonsospastries.com