OGDEN — If you’ve never had a pastry filled with Bavarian cream, this holiday season just might be the time to try it.
Similar to custard, it’s a level above the cream in a grocery store donut — and now an authentic Italian version is available in downtown Ogden.
About two weeks ago, Sapori Italian Bakery and Cafe opened on 24th Street, just east of Union Grill. In that short time, the establishment has garnered 23 Google reviews, each rating the food and service with five stars.
The bakery and cafe specializes in pastries, but it also offers savory items for lunch, like cheese tortellini in cream sauce, as well as authentic Italian Lavazza coffee.
Sapori is run by a husband-wife team, Luca La Mantia and Azzurra Cuchel, who are both from Sicily, a large Island in the Mediterranean near the Southern tip of Italy’s “boot” peninsula.
La Mantia said that Cuchel has always had the dream of owning a bakery.
Before the couple moved to Utah, she worked in restaurants in Florence, and she also grew up watching her mother and grandma make pastries at home.
“(Azzurra) is the heart and passion of this bakery,” La Mantia said, “ ... and so when we work together, she’s the one who coordinates the work, so we’re a good team.”
La Mantia manages the finances of the business and the relationships with customers, he said.
Sicily is a poor area, La Mantia said, so one of the main ways Sicilian families experience joy is through food.
“People used to have their happy moments when the family were together ... for the holidays, all the grandmas, all the moms only had the chance to ... offer happiness (by) cooking pastries and sweets for all the family,” he said.
“That’s why probably they are the best (pastries) you can have — because ... they are made with love,” he continued.
Although flours in the United States and Italy are different, Cuchel has experimented relentlessly to recreate authentic Italian pastries with U.S. ingredients. The couple has resorted to ordering gelatin from Germany to perfectly recreate the cream in some of the pastries.
Just being similar to Italian pastries is not enough, La Mantia said.
“We want to make sure that it’s exactly the ones that you can have in a coffee shop in Italy,” he said.
While the bakery offers Sicilian pastries, like cannoli, they also offer items that the entire country is known for — like classic Tiramisu, which is from northern Italy, La Mantia said.
Prices are almost too good to be true, with most pastries costing about $3 apiece, while lunch items range in cost from $5-$7.
The menu for lunch changes, but it is posted daily on Sapori’s Instagram page, which you can find by searching “@saporicateringllc.” The page also features pictures of Cuchel’s beautiful pastry creations.
While Cuchel worked at restaurants in Italy, La Mantia was a police officer — but he said they were not satisfied with their life there.
The couple decided to move to Utah with their now 5-year-old daughter (she was only 1 when they moved) because Cuchel has family living here who encouraged La Mantia and Cuchel to come.
Before opening the bakery and cafe, the couple started a catering business, supplying pastries for coffee shops in Farmington and Ogden, which they’ll continue to do.
They’ve even created specialty items for their customers, like a vegan pastry for Cuppa, a vegan coffee shop in Ogden.
They will also continue to take catering orders, La Mantia said.
Though they spent 3 1/2 years living in Farmington, Ogden won them over.
“We fell in love with Ogden,” La Mantia said. “The reason why we are here instead of somewhere else is because the historical buildings here remind us of Europe for some reason.”
They were also happy to find the spot available on 24th Street.
“We felt like ... this was the place we were looking for,” he said.