It’s a chilly November afternoon and Amore Bakery and Café in downtown Gretna is bustling. It’s the lunch hour, and folks have come in to sample salad, sandwiches and sweets in this quaint local bistro owned by Sage Spicuzza, her mother Bonnie Pecot and her sister Calli Boullosa.
Open since 2016, Amore serves homemade French and Italian pastries made in-house by Spicuzza, who graduated from Delgado’s culinary program in 2013 and previously worked for Hotel Monteleone. When Spicuzza and Pecot saw that the building at 307 Huey P. Long Ave. was available, they thought it would be the perfect place to serve coffee and pastries in a part of Gretna that was lacking.
Today, the café serves what Spicuzza refers to her as her specialties: bread pudding, tiramisu and crème brulee ($6.95), as well as an assortment of croissants, cheesecake, sugar cookies, muffins, fig cookies, scones, turnovers, and tarts ($2.95 to $6.95). Spicuzza stays busy and has worked out a system to keep her pastry case packed.
“I usually prep all of the pastries the night before and bake them in the morning,” she says.
The variety of pastries available here is ever-changing.
In June, Amore started serving a lunch menu that includes salads and sandwiches such as chicken salad, gourmet grilled cheese, turkey avocado BLT and chicken bacon avocado ranch. Tomato basil soup is also on the menu and the café offers daily specials. Spicuzza has worked hard to ensure that she serves the freshest, best food to her customers.
“Everything is preservative-free, including the meats,” she said. “All of our dressings and soups are made in-house.”
The coffee served is by local roaster Coast Roast and Amore offers espresso, lattes, affogato and flavored frappes, as well as tea, hot chocolate and Italian sodas. The shop also offers special seasonal flavored frappes and lattes.
Amore Bakery and Café has been one of my favorite spots not only in Gretna, but the entire New Orleans metro area, since they first opened. Walking in, you hear lovely music playing over the speakers, and you are transported into one of those cafés that you only see in Hallmark movies. The cozy atmosphere is welcoming and I love the personal touches of the seasonal décor. One of the first things that drew me in upon my first visit, three years ago, was the big Christmas tree in the front room of the café and the vibe makes you feel as if you’re enjoying your morning in a storybook. The display case is not only packed with homemade treats, but there are also various flavors of gelato, courtesy of Angelo Brocato’s ($3.95). That’s right, you can get famed Brocato’s gelato on the Westbank!
I have a few personal favorites here and the first is the buttery croissants. The croissants here are so fresh and flaky that they practically melt in your mouth and you can even get them warmed. Another fantastic treat is the bread pudding. It’s homemade and full of the sweet/savory satisfaction that you expect from bread pudding. It’s so decadent that I have to make a habit of only having it every once in a while, but it’s one of those desserts that is totally worth the calories. Amore’s version of tiramisu is exquisite. Flavors ooze out of every bite and I like that it isn’t overly sweet. It makes for a nice, decadent afternoon treat.
As often as I visit the café, I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to sample the lunch menu. When I saw that they offered a chicken salad sandwich ($9.95), I was in. Chicken salad sandwiches are my weakness and I decided to get mine with a side of pasta salad. The sandwich was large and the chicken was chunky and juicy. I appreciated that the chicken salad wasn’t “mayo heavy” — I don’t like it when the taste of mayonnaise overpowers the flavor of the actual chicken. The pasta salad was perfection and fully flavored, yet light. It made for an excellent accompaniment.
Spicuzza hopes that in the future she can add hot meals to her ever-expanding menu, although the daily lunch crowd is keeping her busy. For now, she plans on keeping the sweet treats and convenient lunches coming in this welcoming spot in “old” Gretna.
Know Before You Go
Salad and Sandwiches: $8.95 to $10.95
Soup: $4.95 to $6.95
Pastries: $.95 to $6.95