Tag Archives: serious eats

Letizia’s Fiore Bakery: Face to Face with Pretention

10 Dec

Dear Readers, we thank you sincerely for keeping up with our adventures.  We’ve been receiving several Pastry Tip-Offs lately, which make our job that much easier.

Our tip this week came from Ms. Triphena Wong, who pointed us in the direction of a donut list compiled by Serious Eats, a website for people like us who enjoy categorizing and itemizing food.

We’ve been to several of these places already, but a few new names popped out.  First up: Letizia’s Fiore Bakery in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood.

Letizia’s prides themselves on their all-natural, organic ingredients.  We weren’t totally sure how this would work in the world of donuts, but we knew we had to check it out.  So we hopped in the Donut Mobile and headed over.

Letizia’s is definitely an upscale place; we felt a little under-dressed as we slunk in, prowling for donuts.  It seems like it’d be a great location at which to come back and have a legitimate meal.  Still, we pushed these thoughts from our minds and secured our donuts before retreating to the Donut Mobile.

Here’s what we found:


Chocolate Frosted

Coffee Girl: Uh-hunh, uh-hunh … so the first thing to say about these donuts is that they are natural and organic.  Frankly, I’m a lot happier when the first thing to say about a donut is that it’s delicious.  Not nearly so important — at least to yours truly — is the donut’s biography.  This is not Rocket Science, you overly self-conscious foodies with too much time on your hands.  This is Donuts, which I divide into two categories:  Good Donuts and Bad Donuts.

But it’s also important to be nice, so here’s what I’m going to say about Letizia’s Fiora’s donuts:  they are Interesting.  The doughnut itself is surprising in the subtlety of its taste.  After a disconcerting initial taste of almond, however, the flavor wandered off and got lost somewhere in the land of Where the Hell’s the Sugar?  Donuts Are Supposed To Be Sweet, Letizia!  Nevertheless, I kept chewing, next noticing that the donut failed to achieve any Crunch to separate the Texture Experience into the two necessary components of the True Donut:  crunchy exterior and soft inside.

Donut Boy: I can honestly say the dough in this donut is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.  Strong hints of butter and frying oil, but an overall more nutty flavor, as opposed to super-sweet doughs one sometimes encounters.  The chocolate frosting was creamy and an interesting balance to the more savory dough, but I still needed more sweetness.

Score: 6.5

Vanilla Frosted

Coffee Girl: Sadder but wiser, I was prepared for Letizia’s next offering.  Same curious, kosher-tasting, slightly soggy donut.  Good frosting.

Donut Boy: Pleasing texture to the frosting, but a somewhat timid flavor profile that I forgot moments after ingesting.  Meh.

Score: 6.5


Coffee Girl: Same donut + lack of frosting = Unhappy Donuteer.

Donut Boy: I always enjoy a nice crunchy sugared donut.  Here, though, the sugar wasn’t enough to overcome the nutty pastry.  I felt like I was eating very refined bread.  I suspect dipping it in coffee would have helped, but I prefer a donut that doesn’t require assistance.

Score: 4.8

Raspberry Frosted

Coffee Girl: Fantastic frosting!  Thank you, Letizia!  Real raspberries seemed to be involved.  Delicious.  This by-now-deflated Donuteer savored the beginning of a large bite of this donut, then quickly fell asleep to avoid tasting that dough again.

Donut Boy: This donut would be the winner of the bunch for me.  An interesting frosting (really, how often do you ever come across raspberry frosting in the Donut World?) that paired the best with Letizia’s dough.  Here, the whole package makes the most sense.

Score: 7.5


One of the most intrinsically appealing qualities about donuts is their lack of pretension.  Places like Letizia’s make us a little uneasy, to be honest.  Donuts should come in cheap boxes and be, like, $7 for a dozen.  Not $2.50 each.  Let’s not over-think things here, let’s just heat up some oil and get to frying.


Letizia’s clearly puts great work into their baked goods — each and every pastry was beautifully and thoughtfully put together.  Cosmetics should come after nailing down flavors, though.  For that reason, we can’t recommend Letizia’s to anyone who enjoys a good donut (or two) and a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning.  Save your money and look elsewhere for your Donut Fix.

By all means, keep the Donut Suggestions coming.  We’ve got a good few months of investigating ahead of us, but we’re always happy to take on a little more work.

Until next week!