Founded in 1904, Isgro is the oldest family owned pastry shop in Philadelphia. Gus, grandson of the original owners, Mario and Crucificia Isgro, with the help of his extended family, continues to produce traditional Italian pastries the old-fashioned way. Mr. Isgro attributes his bakery’s success to his love of fine Italian pastries, quality control, maintaining a size that ensures the best possible products, and having the discipline to remove pastries from the shelf immediately when they are no longer fresh. There are no short-cuts. Everything is handmade using natural, highquality ingredients. Isgro’s is the only bakery in Philadelphia that still hand-fills your cannoli with a spoon after you’ve decided whether you prefer the ricotta, chocolate, or vanilla cream filling. Unfortunately, zucca, a once common ingredient in cannoli fillings made from watermelon rind, is no longer readily available.
Uncle Vito is in charge of the signature dessert which is an excellent Rum Cake (Cream Cake) decorated with creamy ricotta and sliced almonds. The traditional coating of marzipan is available for this cake upon request. Sfogliatella is pastry in the shape of a clam, made with layers of light crispy pastry, filled with ricotta, and flavored with the zest from oranges and lemons.
Many Italian desserts are only made for certain occasions, but since Zepolli (or St. Joseph Cake) is so popular, Isgro’s carries it year-round. It is made from dough similar to a French cruller that is deep fried, coated with cinnamon sugar, and filled with Italian cream or ricotta. Ash Wednesday brings Pignolata, a confection with pignola (pine nuts), and Christmas and Easter dessert offerings wouldn’t be complete without Ricotta Pie. Other favorites are strawberry shortcake, miniature fruit tarts, cheesecake, and special occasion cakes in many styles.
Featured in “Specialty Shops: Bagels, Breads, and Pastries”