Holy Cannoli! Vesuvio Bakery & Deli in North Riverside

20 Nov

Donut Hunting can sometimes require a sharp eye.  Sure, there are widely heralded bakeries that draw you in through word-of-mouth and big reputations.  But there are also the smaller, lesser-known bakeries, the ones that don’t speak up at first but would love to have you stop by once you’ve made your rounds with the Big Shots.

Not a whole lot goin' on outside Vesuvio Bakery...

Vesuvio Bakery & Deli is such a place.  Located on Cermak Road in North Riverside, IL, it’s kind of hard to spot at first.  We just happened to see it one day as we were driving by, and we made a mental note to come back later and check it out.  Which we were finally able to do this morning.

Here’s what we found:


Donut #1: Chocolate Frosted

Coffee Girl:

The best part of this donut was the chocolate frosting, which was thick, creamy and delightfully sweet.  But the donut below the frosting was just a space-saver.  Boring and not worth the calories.

Donut Boy:

While the chocolate frosting had a pleasing, rich, classically sweet flavor to it, the dough of this donut was undeniably drier and breadier than what we have normally encountered in chocolate frosted donuts thus far.  It didn’t really do it for me.

Donut #2: Chocolate Frosted Cake

Coffee Girl:

Again, good frosting that’s wasting its talents with this bland, dry-ish cake donut.

Donut Boy:

“If the regular chocolate frosting donut was that dry,” I thought to myself, “the cake donut is going to be even more so.”  And so it was.  Again, I liked the chocolate frosting, but that was about it.  Simply not moist enough for my tastes.

Donut #3: Vanilla Frosted

Coffee Girl:

Sweet and slightly granular, Vesuvio’s vanila frosting is even better than its chocolate frosting.  The donut … let’s see, the donut … we know we ate it but we can’t remember it.

Donut Boy:

As I had already tried the chocolate frosted donut, I knew what to expect from the dough.  I was pleasantly surprised, however, by the frosting on this donut.  A very sophisticated vanilla, which actually kind of made up for the donut’s lackluster dough.  Of the donuts we tried, this was my favorite.

Donut #4: Sugar Twist

Coffee Girl:

It’s fresh, and they roll it in sugar for you as you order it. Maybe it tasted better right after 5 A.M., when Vesuvio opens.  By 8:30 A.M., this donut — and any inherent flavor personality it possessed — had gone back to sleep.

Donut Boy:

The sugar provided a nice texture.  Unfortunately, that was about it.  Without even frosting to dress this pastry up, all you’re left with is Vesuvio’s dough (see above).  Meh.  With coffee, I could get through this.  If I had to.


Bonus Pastries

Vesuvio clearly does big business.  We got there pretty early (or so we thought), around 8:30.  But by then, the only actual donuts remaining were the ones mentioned above.  Luckily, there were a few other interesting pastries waiting to be sampled…

Bonus Pastry #1: Raspberry Danish

Coffee Girl:

We would recommend this pastry for any of you who don’t get up on Saturday mornings, drive for half an hour, and then eat way too many donuts.  It would be delicious on its own with coffee and the newspaper.  It’s fresh, the raspberry jam is light and fruity, the white frosting drizzle is light and sweet, and the fluffy, bread-y roll dunks well.

Donut Boy:

Normally, I am slightly skeptical of Danishes.  It seems that they are usually drier than their donut friends.  Ironically, the exact opposite proved to be true at Vesuvio.  This Danish was light and sweet, like a schoolgirl in a fresh summer dress.  Delicious raspberry jelly coupled with vanilla frosting made this my #2 pastry of the morning (read on for #1).  I would get this again.

Bonus Pastry #2: Sfogliatelle

We thought this was a “Lobster Tail” until we asked.  Turns out it’s called a sfogliatelle.  After a little Googling, we determined that the two are closely related, but not quite the same (see here).

Coffee Girl:

As my teenage friends would say, this item was a situation.  Donut Boy?  Please expound.

Donut Boy:

This pastry really got to me for some reason.  Maybe it’s the fact that it appeared so light and airy at first glance.  “This could be like an awesome croissant,” I thought.  Wrong.  This sfogliatelle was surprisingly tough.  I could not cut it in half with a knife or rip it with my hands.  The very tail of it was so hard it resembled uncooked pasta.  I didn’t bother eating that.  The filling itself turned out to be ricotta, and was more savory than sweet.  Hmmm…

Bonus Pastry #3: Chocolate Frosted Cannolo with Pistachios

Coffee Girl:

Finally, we get to where my attention has been all along: to wit, the 800-pound pastry in the middle of the room.  Let’s talk about it.  The light pastry shell is loaded inside with sweet, heavy cream that is dotted with petite chocolate chips.  Vesuvio’s grade-A chocolate frosting on top is embedded with a gracious plenty of chopped pistachios.  This cannolo would make a perfect dessert after lunch or dinner, provided you skip the actual lunch or dinner so as to leave room in your stomach.  Deeply satisfying.

Donut Boy:

After a disappointing run of pastries (okay, the Danish was actually really good), a light clicked on when I bit into this cannolo (the singular of “cannoli”).  So many awesome things happening all at once.  Unlike all the other pastries of the morning, this cannolo’s dry, hard dough served as the perfect casing for its decadent filling.  Topped with a great chocolate frosting and flavorful pistachios, this was easily my #1 pastry of the whole trip.  If we go back to Vesuvio, I’m just going to get a few of these and call it a day.


Two quick notes:

  1. Regarding the dryness of the pastries. Without knowing more, we will venture a guess and say that Vesuvio’s drier pastries are an Italian thing.  A significant portion of their display was dedicated to a certain variety of drier, cookie-ish offerings (see below).  While it might not be what we’re looking for, we’re willing to bet there are many locals who wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Pre-wrapped plate of cookies.

  2. So much more than just donuts. The “deli” part of Vesuvio’s title only begins to hint at everything they offer.  We saw some delicious looking foccacia bread, tubs of seasoned chicken drumsticks, and cured meats hanging from the ceilings.  On Saturday mornings, we are on the prowl for donuts, but so much could be gained by returning at a different time in the week and picking up some authentic Italian groceries.

    Lots of goodies.


So, in closing…

This wasn’t really our cup of tea.  But it could be yours.  If Italian-style pastries strike your fancy, by all means, head to Vesuvio.  We recommend sticking to the cannoli, though.



One Response to “Holy Cannoli! Vesuvio Bakery & Deli in North Riverside”


  1. Ancona Bakery in Northlake: How dry is too dry? « The Breakfast Adventures of Coffee Girl & Donut Boy - May 21, 2011

    […] since the ’20s — but we confess we are not among them (we were baffled when we visited Vesuvio Bakery last […]

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