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The little ricotta tart that Vito Semeraro calls pasticciotti has been on the menu at Romeo & Juliet’s since the Italian bakery and café opened on Hertel Avenue in the late 1990s.

In the years that followed, pasticciotti remained on the bakery shelves as the business expanded to three locations: 1292 Hertel Ave. (873-5730); 5199 Sheridan Drive, Amherst (839-4960); and 2512 Sheridan Drive, Town of Tonawanda (862-3980).

But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago, when Semeraro took a trip back to his hometown, that the pasticciotti reached its present form, he said.

It always started with tart dough in a single-serving pan, with most of the filling similar to the bakery’s cassata cake filling: sweetened ricotta cheese with hints of rum and orange flavor. Underneath the ricotta was a layer of chocolate chips – until his trip home gave him pause.

In the town of San Vito dei Normanni, in Brindisi province, Puglia region, Semeraro tried the pasticciotti and found the ricotta on a foundation of Nutella, the chocolate hazelnut spread.

“I like it better, so I switched, and since then I make it this way,” Semeraro said.

Some people like it just as is, but Semeraro recommends having it warmed up. Not steamy hot, just enough to open the flavor of the aromatic cheese and chocolate. It’s $4 to eat in, $3.50 to go.

“It’s so good,” the baker said. “The customer eats it with a spoon, and they can get a little of the ricotta, the Nutella and the short dough together.”

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FOODIE FIND:

Food Truck Rodeo.

A herd of Buffalo food trucks gathers in one easy-to-find spot from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and the third Wednesday of the month through September at the Buffalo History Museum, 1 Museum Court (Nottingham Terrace at Elmwood Avenue). Patrons can grab dinner ranging from barbecue to Thai food and desserts. Part of the proceeds benefit the Buffalo History Museum.