Ricotta-filled sfincis and custard-filled zeppoles are two similar yet distinct Italian pastries. Both are traditionally enjoyed in Italy around St. Joseph’s Day, the birthday of Jesus’ father, which is celebrated on March 19. (But you can get them both year-round.)
“Us Italians, we love to celebrate saints,” explained Emanuele Alaimo, Jr., “Manny,” of Villabate Alba, a beloved bakery in Bensonhurst. “To honor them, we made a pastry.”
Both are available at Villabate, which has been run by the Alaimo family for 40 years. But the family hails from Sicily and prefer the sfinci.
In Sicily, everything is ricotta. For us, ricotta is number one,” said Alaimo. “Up north [in Italy], their version is custard.”
The demand for the pastries became a year-round thing, so Villabate had to leave behind tradition, and start giving the people what they wanted. So if you can’t get to Villabate by Wednesday, you’ve got the rest of the year.