Basket Not Required

Part of the Easter holiday tradition of many South Jersey natives is a trip for specialty items to Philadelphia’s Italian Market and a stop to Isgro Pastries on Christian St.
Isgro’s bakery gets so busy on Easter weekend that the owners hire a police officer to direct traffic on Christian Street.

Gus and Lucille Isgro, who live in Haddon Township, continue a 94-year family tradition of making four different kinds of ricotta pies, two kinds of sweet Easter bread, and marzipan lambs in their bakery.

Some of the best-selling kinds of ricotta pies are the less traditional chocolate chip, melon rind and almond, says Gus Isgro, The bakery also sells the traditional ricotta pie flavored with lemon zest.

Isgro also makes the pastera, a traditional grain pie made with tealed wheat and heavy cream. Very few bakeries used tealed (or very clean) wheat because it is hard. But it tastes better, Isgro says.

Many customers ask for the savory ham pie, Isgro says, which is prepared with a few different cheeses, tavern ham and pepperoni. Isgro, sells the ham pie by the pound.

Isgro’s Easter bread is “almost challah-like” and is yolk based. He uses anise and non-alcoholic rum, and sells two versions:braided and in the shape of a cross with hard-boiled, colored eggs.

One of Isgro’s signature items for Easter is the marzipan lamb, which the bakery makes in nine different sizes. The molds were crafted by Isgro’s grandfather decades ago.

“My mother (Mary) makes the marzipan lambs herself,”Isgro says. “She decorates them by hand. She’s the only one with the patience to do it.”

By Cheryl Squadrito, featured in,”Courier Post” April 8, 1998