Georgina’s Says ‘Ciao’ to Rockaway
As you walk in, the smell of cappuccinos and pastries immediately hits your senses and your mouth starts to water. The cobblestone path below your feet takes you right to the roads of Rome, as above you the vines bearing lemons that match the bright tables and chairs transport you to Sicily, while scenes of seaside towns make you feel like you’re on the Amalfi Coast rather than New York. That feeling is reinforced as you’re greeted with a “Ciao, bella” from an Italian woman with a welcoming smile. Now comes the tough part. What to order? After all, the delicious endings are never ending at Beach 116th Street’s new café and bakery, Georgina’s.
Perhaps you fancy a slice of Italian cheesecake filled with fresh ricotta that melts in your mouth with each bite. But if New York style cheesecake is more your heart’s desire, they have that too, topped with fruits like cherries, blueberries or pineapples, or without. Bite into an Italian cookie so fresh it crumbles right on your tongue as a burst of jelly tantalizes your taste buds. Or maybe you’re just there for a classic cannoli, which are filled with cool, fresh cannoli cream right before your eyes. Wash it all down with a strong cappuccino, espresso or maybe an iced coffee on a hot day. Still need to cool down? Try one of the many frozen delicacies you can’t get at any other shop on the peninsula like tartufo, spumoni or a refreshing lemon granita, an actual lemon stuffed and overflowing with Sicilian sorbet. One thing is for sure—no matter what you pick, you won’t be disappointed.
Part of what makes everything delicious and authentically Italian are the first- and second-generation Italians who own and operate Georgina’s. Charlie D’Ancano has been coming to Rockaway since he was a kid and about six months ago, he decided to make it his permanent home. However, coming from a family that has 60 years in the restaurant and bakery business, he wanted to bring a taste of it with him to share with his new hometown. So he partnered with longtime friend, Frank Fodera, a Rockaway resident for 35 years, and both set out on a new retail venture—an Italian bakery and café. They came across the perfect spot on Beach 116th Street, the former home of Blue Bungalow, just a few doors down from where the busy shopping corridor saw its last bakery about 15 years ago.
In a rush to meet the busy summer season, D’Ancano, a retired carpenter, and Fodera, an electrician for Pappas & Fodera Electric Co., acted quick and built out their own shop within a month. However, by the looks of it, it’s clear that they put great care and detail into the build out. On July 4, Georgina’s opened its doors to the community, and to rave reviews.
Georgina’s sees a steady flow of customers all day, so much so that they’ve already extended their hours. “We were originally going to be open until 8 p.m., but we still had people walking in at 9, 9:30 every night, so now we close around 10 p.m. We didn’t expect that. It’s been a pleasant surprise. It’s exhausting, because we’re here since 6:30 in the morning, but we don’t mind it. It’s great,” D’Ancano said.
As The Rockaway Times sampled some treats, D’Ancano spoke to two women from Ozone Park sitting nearby, already calling them “regulars.” D’Ancano said this has become the norm with people coming from near and far to experience what Georgina’s has to offer, especially with the ferry bringing in international customers that have shown appreciation for the Italian-inspired décor and scenic murals, with one woman even pointing out her own home in a photo, showing that Georgina’s is making a personal connection with their customers in all that they do. As you walk through the door, the staff greets everyone with a smile and even offers a fresh cup of lemon water, as they treat everyone like a family member.
For those at Georgina’s, family is very important. The shelves are stocked with fresh products delivered from D’Ancano’s family’s wholesale bakery business based in Brooklyn, by family members such as his nephew. Behind the counter, making customers feel at home are two young family members of the owners and D’Ancano’s sister-in-law, Josephine LoGiudice, whose family brings in the frozen desserts. And the name of the bakery was inspired by a new member of the family—Georgina, D’Ancano’s one-year-old granddaughter.
Making sure everyone feels at home, Georgina’s tries their best to accommodate customer requests. They take special orders and will make cakes for any occasion. “We’re a specialty café and bakery. We try to give great service and hospitality, along with the best quality that we’ve been used to in all our years,” LoGiudice said. “We do trays of cookies, all kinds of cakes, mini pastries large pastries, all kind of Italian cookies, morning danishes, muffins, gelato, everything.” And for those feeling something savory, they offer that as well. “We have all different types of breads that are picked up fresh every morning. We have olive loaf, broccoli loaf, eggplant loaf, prosciutto loaf, spinach load, focaccia, a wide variety of everything,” D’Ancano said, pointing out the array. They also offer arancini (rice balls) and plan to offer even more food options in the future.
What else is in store for the future of Georgina’s? With things going so well, D’Ancano says he’s already scouting a second retail location in Queens so that even more people can say “ciao” to Georgina’s.
Georgina’s Bakery Café is located at 165 Beach 116th Street. They’re open seven days a week, from about 6:30 a.mn. to 10 p.m. For more info, call 718-945-1250.