PASTRIES ARE TRADITION IN HIS ITALIAN FAMILY, AND SO THIS CHEF IS PROUD TO PAY TRIBUTE TO HIS FATHER’S LEGACY
BY AMANDA McCOY • PHOTOS BY CHRIS LOUPOS
Every morning at five 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, and do whatever else needs to be done before heading over to the Red Bank location. The chef has worked full time for the bakery since 1985, though memories of being within these walls date back a lot further
“I was seven years old,” recalled the chef. “We lived right down the block from the original one on Manor Road. When we got in trouble, we got sent to work [laughs]. We’d stand on milk crates washing pots, stuff like that.”
The shop was the brainchild of Campitiello’s father, Alfonso, who opened the first location in 1970. The patriarch was originally introduced to the art of baking in his small Italian hometown of Pagani, in Campania. Upon immigrating to the United States, he sharpened his skills at the Plaza Hotel and the Hampshire House. And when the chef took the leap of faith of opening his own bakery, he had no idea that he was also creating a legacy.
“My dad was my biggest inspiration,” added the younger Campitiello. “He’s a man who learned in his home town and came to this country with a couple of dollars.”
Campitiello began working for the bakery officially when he was in high school, looking after the store at night and “perfecting his decorating skills.” As graduation neared, the budding pastry chef was faced with a decision between working full time and going to college. Realizing the resources already at his fingertips, he opted for hands on education, studying culinary techniques and successful 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 the creativity peaked my curiosity. It’s something I would have never learned in school. Plus, what little boy wouldn’t want to work with his dad?”
Now an established Staten Island staple, the Alfonso nameplate spans multiple locations, and has even expanded to New Jersey. Bakery items include cakes, cookies, pastries, freshly baked breads, and Italian biscuits. e same classic cannolis that won over the hearts of borough residents 49 years ago are still on the menu, and every item is crafted from scratch.
“To be a great pastry chef, you have to have a great level of creativity and drive,” Campitiello explained. “ There is a certain ambition you have to maintain to be successful and always stay on top of the game.”
With his father now retired, Campitiello oversees the Victory Boulevard and Red Bank stores, while his brother, Vincent, runs the Eltingville location. To sweeten the deal, Campitiello’s wife, Jill, and three oldest daughters, Diana, Christina, and Angie, have also joined the family business.
“It was important to keep the family involved, from my wife to my children,” added the chef. “It brings 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 / 718.273.8802 / alfonsospastries.com
200 South Avenue East, Suite 103 / Cranford, NJ / 908.276.8802
86 Broad Street / Red Bank, NJ / 732.212.8802