Neat Neighborhood History: Catania Bakery in Photos

Back in Nov. ’09, Danny Harris wrote a People’s District post titled Nicole on the Last Remnants of Italian Life on North Capitol Street. It was fascinating. I finally went for a visit myself last weekend and I was absolutely blown away (as I should’ve known.) The place is a true time warp for many reasons but for all those who’ve been pining for a proper bakery – I don’t care if you live nowhere near here – it is worth the travel! I would go just to talk with the former owner, Mr. Caruso (now retired), who will tell you all about the history of the bakery and the neighborhood. They are only open for retail Sat. morning around 7:30am until around 1pm.

I bought a chocolate bread that was ridiculously good – seriously no other way to describe it. Plus they have proper Italian bread and rolls, other pastries and their famous biscotti. For those who know good Italian subs in DC – these folks are the suppliers for Mangialardo’s and A. Litteri among many others. Enough said, right? So next Sat. go visit! They are located at 1404 N. Capitol St, NW (just south of P).

As I said – this post will give you a taste of how old school and awesome this place is in photos:

The oven from 1946

Real Italian bread!

Lots more photos and history after the jump.

Memorabilia from the Caruso family (original owners)

Left, Mr. Caruso (son of founder/owner) Right, Nicole Tramonte current owner for 32 years

Old school mixer

Mixer plaque

34 Comment

  • shame about the neighborhood though. when they started opening on saturday mornings, they were doing a test to see if it was a good idea to be open to the public possibly more days. but shortly after that they were robbed a few times. i think employees were beaten. such a sad depressed area.

    wisely, the bars stay on, the place retails mostly wholesale.
    they own a few other buildings in the area too. but they are reluctant to either sell or develop them.

  • I *love* this place. It’s right around the corner from me, so I wake up on Saturday mornings and just stroll down. Nicole is wonderful, and the croissants are some of the best I’ve had.

  • I worked for an Italian American engineer who grew up in this once viable, vibrant Italian neighborhood. He introduced me to Litteri’s. He remembered vividly the smoke rising from the 1968 riots, immediately after which his parents moved the family to Anne Arundel county.

  • Oh, is David Catania related to the bakery family here?

  • Anyone know their hours on Sat? As a Brooklyn transplant, I’ve been missing some “real” Italian baked goods.

  • Thanks for the reminder; I’ve been meaning to check this place out. As an Italian-American from New Jersey I do miss those old school bakeries.

  • I love the bakery, however I’m torn on the negative impact their squatting on next door buildings is having on the corridor.

    “…For now, Tramonte is content to rent her buildings to small businesses and companies that need D.C. addresses to qualify for city contracts….”

    full article at:

  • I had an amazingly good pastry on my one and only visit. It is a little neighborhood secret. The bakery is located on a block that is a shame and a disgrace. All the drugies hang out drinking and selling pills.

  • The owners’ actions have become quite controversial, with some saying they are standing in the way of redevelopment on that block. I dont know where I stand, but I know if the buildings that these folks owned were in better shape, they’d have my business. As it is, I dont go there because there is a robbery a week on that block. If it were safer, I’d love to go.

  • It’s sad to think that development in that area is probably a long way off. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call it one of the most dangerous and dilapidated parts of town.

  • My realtor told me about this place while we were driving around looking at places but I still need to visit. Reminds me of Liguria Bakery, an old school bakery that sells only foccacia, in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco.

  • There’s plenty of crappy intersections in this area that can be developed, don’t be hating on an old school bakery that’s been here since before you were born!
    P.S. Can’t wait for the firehouse bar.

    • The bakery isnt the problem. The owners of the bakery who also own vacant properties adjacent to the bakery are the problem.

      I dont care when the bakery was opened, they need to be more responsible neighbors.

      Shiloh Baptist Church has been here a long time too, does that mean everything they do is beyond criticism?

  • Once I went there on a Sat. and chatted a bit with her. She tolled me how once they were once robbed and the robbers tied up the employees and her nephew or granddaughter (i don’t remember well) and tried to rape her but one of the employees was able to free himself and fight off the robbers. Pretty messed up story.

    • See, I don’t understand why they’re keeping those properties vacant. I have a ton of sympathy for them and I admire their willingness to tough it out in a tough neighborhood, but you’re just begging to become a crime victim when you’re work or live next to a vacant property.

  • I just noticed this place last Monday walking the dogs and wondered why haven’t I tried this place, then I passed aroung the corner and noticed all the dealing going on and said OH that’s why. I am still going there this weekend.

  • Danielle will let you come in with your dog … if you ask nicely

  • Judging from the Caruso memorabilia photo, looks like someone served in an armored division during WWII.

  • Last time I checked, we lived in the United States of America, the woman has the right to keep her property until she gets her price, not the price YOU think she should accept for the good of the neighborhood.

    • yes, they have that ‘right’. However they have a responsibility to their neighbors to keep their properties in good repair. The blighted character of the surrounding buildings is their fault.

  • This post just breaks my heart 🙁 I’m an Italian American from New York, and I still haven’t been here yet. I’ve only been to A. Litteri twice, too…I don’t have a car and I wouldn’t feel safe walking from the metro to either places or waiting for a bus in these neighborhoods. I’m just dying for a real Italian bakery in this city, and here is one so close, but so far! Aghhhhhh the pain. Well, at least I can get to Mangialardo…which is still like a good 45 min metro trip for me.

    • Really? Really??? It’s only open on Saturday mornings from 7:30-1p.m. what the heck do you think is going to happen to you??? You’ll die much faster and more miserable from your current fears. And without good bread.

    • saf

      See, your post makes me sad.

      No, I wouldn’t walk alone in either of those neighborhoods late at night. But during the day, there’s NO reason not to go.

      Makes me sad to see people scared of my city.

      • I accidentally missed my bus stop this morning and ended up in Anacostia. I panicked for a second, then told myself my chances of getting shot at 9am are incredibly slim, and plenty of people manage to live there without getting themselves killed, so I should be fine.

  • This is just down the street from me and I never even noticed it! Perhaps they should invest in a new sign? Either way, I now know where I’ll be this Saturday morning.

    On a broader note, and possibly to help allay some of the concerns about safety, I have lived within four blocks of this bakery for the past three years and would not think twice about travelling down this street on a Saturday morning. You should be prepared for random homeless people and the average over-achieving drunkard who is already stumbling, but otherwise it is relatively benign.

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