If you aren’t already a fan of Carlo’s Bake Shop, the eponymous spot that has garnered national attention through the hit show, Cake Boss, then get ready to have your Italian pastry world rocked to its cannoli-loving core. The famous sweet shop has opened in Santa Monica, delighting foodies, locals, tourists and reality television enthusiasts alike. Check out our review below and get ready to indulge in the east coast’s latest dessert import.
What began as a neighborhood bakery in Hoboken, NY in 1910, has recently become a 20-location pastry phenomenon around the world (literally, there’s a shop in Brazil). Thanks in part to its over-the-top cake creations and hit series Cake Boss on TLC, Carlo’s Bakery has become a household name. This fall, the latest (and only west coast location), opened in the heart of Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade. Just like its other locations, this spot is certain to fill visitors of all ages with sugar and smiles.
Stepping inside Carlo’s Bakery, you’re immediately greeted with a warm welcome and a seemingly endless display of beautifully lit pastries. Kiddos are offered a treat while you pace the case like a lion stalking its buttery, sugary prey. Everything sold at Carlo’s Bakery is made on site, making it as fresh and delicious as it looks. The shop also offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at where the magical creations happen with a fully viewable kitchen from the retail store. Kids and adults will drool at the sight of cupcakes getting frosted, lobster tails (a delectable creation made from sfogiatelle dough stuffed with French cream) getting their final sugar dusting. And for those in the reality-show know, you might even spot a familiar family member or two.
A Famiglia Affair
Part of what makes Carlo’s such a special bakery, is their emphasis on family. After founder Carlo Guastaffero sold the business to Bartolo Valastro Sr. in 1964, Valastro’s son, Bartolo Valastro Jr. (aka Buddy) and family started running the joint, and still do. From the sidewall adorned with life-size portraits of various members to the real-life versions working away in the kitchen—you’ll find family everywhere you look. And on any given day, you might see one of Buddy’s brothers-in-law in the back dipping cannoli shells in chocolate, readying trays upon trays for their sweet cream filling. Speaking of those cannolis…
Those familiar with Carlo’s will be pleased to know this location offers the brand’s full menu of signature treats, including their ever so popular cannoli and lobster tails, cupcakes, tiramisu, plus more. The shop can also create the jaw-dropping, custom cakes seen on Cake Boss for any occasion. If you’re looking to take away a little something that will last you longer than the car ride home, they also sell souvenir items like cups, shirts, hats, and even cookbooks.
Open early morning until late at night (Mon.-Thurs., 8 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Fri.-Sun. 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m.), the shop is ready to satisfy that sweet tooth whenever the craving hits. Start the morning with a danish, donut, or croissant and maybe even be the office hero by picking up a box of goodies to share. Tip: When you buy six cupcakes, you get one free! Coffee is available for purchase but latte-lovers will have to wait for the arrival of their big beautiful espresso machine (coming soon). Now, who’s ready to mangia?
1354 3rd Street Promenade
Have you visited Carlo’s Bakery yet? Tell us what you’d recommend in the comments below.
—written and photographed by Kellie Fell