THIS FORMER MANHATTAN MARKET RESEARCH SALES GURU ELECTED TO CAREER PIVOT IN ORDER TO BRING REAL FLAVOR TO THE BOROUGH
BY JESSICA JONES-GORMAN PHOTOS BY AMANDA DOMENECh
If you ever wondered what heaven tastes like, try a piece of Mark Intoccia’s carrot cake. The perfect blend of carrots and walnuts, it’s sweet, yet not too sweet, and enveloped in a thick layer of cream cheese goodness (no mix of buttercream here; this is heavy duty).
“There’s a lot of bite to it,” Intoccia said, gently laughing at a request for the recipe. “You immediately taste the carrot and the walnuts and you can definitely pick out the other ingredients if you try.”
It’s delicious and it’s pretty, and at Mark’s Bake Shoppe in Richmondtown, it comes in layer, cupcake, and “cake bite” form. Oh, and it’s Intoccia’s favorite.
“Everyone who walks in asks for their favorite cake,” he said.
“That’s why we offer a range of traditional but unique items. Me?
I love carrot cake, and I put a lot of love and passion into it.”
The boutique bakery has a lot more to offer, too. Fresh pastry, cookies, donuts, bread, and gourmet coffee are all on the menu. “We create all kinds of unique treats here, and make custom cakes for weddings and other special occasions,” Intoccia said. “If you’re looking for something special for a party or event, we have it. And if we don’t have it, we’ll make it.”
Intoccia, who started working at a bakery when he was just 15 years old washing dishes and working with the owner to develop a skill set and cultivating his craft, had his first adult job in nance, trading golden oil for a company in Manhattan.
“I was stisfied by that job, and the commute, so I continued to work in the bakery on the weekends because that’s what I truly loved,” he said. That’s also why he took classes in cake design at the International Culinary Center in New York City, continuing to bake and decorate special occasion cakes while working full time in market research sales. Three years ago, Intoccia and his wife, Amanda, decided to take a chance, sell their house, and start something fresh modeling a new shop after some of the niche bakeries in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
“These beautiful little shops exist all over the city…in Williamsburg and Dumbo people go crazy for beautiful cakes, and there was nothing like it on Staten Island,” he said. “Levain Bakery [in Manhattan] literally changed the way the whole city ate cake 20 years ago. I wanted to create that same kind of attraction in our borough… and everything just aligned.”
Richmond town residents welcomed the new shop with open arms, and then the rest of the Island (and beyond) discovered it, too
“I live in Richmondtown, so I’m familiar with it,” Intoccia said. “I actually went to St. Pat’s [Saint Patrick’s School] and grew up nearby, so launching here was comfortable for me. The community welcomed us wholeheartedly.”
In time, Intoccia received an email from Shake Shack asking him to partner with them on a dessert menu for the brand’s first Staten Island store.
“I thought it was fake,” he laughed. “But it turned out to be legit.”
The company selected Intoccia’s brownie for use in its Marshmallow C.R.E.M.E. and Chocolate Brownie Shake. When Empire Outlets location opened last December, the Shake Shack there opted to sell his Nutella Pretzel Cookie.
“The collaboration is nothing short of amazing,” he said.
His baked goods can be found in other parts of the borough, too. Historic Richmondtown and Mount Loretto use Intoccia’s goodies at all of their events. Last year his carrot cake took top prize at the CSI Savor the Flavor event.
“It’s been a crazy ride,” he observed while describing a cake replica of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel he was commissioned to make for the famed NYC institution before it closed for renovation. “People and companies find us on social media and request our collaboration. But I still haven’t figured out how Shake Shack found us; I’ve never gotten to the bottom of that [laughs].”
Mark’s Bake Shoppe cookies are locally legendary, and his donuts come in unique flavors like Nutella, Smores, and Maple Bacon. Intoccia has even made cake replicas of people’s dogs, and once topped a Chanel-themed cake with an edible shoe.
At home, he bakes with his three young boys and talks expansion with his wife.
“We’re working on adding breakfast and lunch options, something more savory, and we’re definitely reaching the limits on what we can do with this space, so we’re deciding on just exactly how to grow,” he pondered. “We’re hoping to expand upon our pop-up events, and talk a lot about new and innovative things to add to the menu. Right now, I’m contemplating something ice cream sandwich related. How’s that sound?”
Mark’s Bake Shoppe
3479 Richmond Road / 718.688.2600 / marksbakeshoppe.com