Once you walk in the door, the smells of a robust kitchen, cranking out traditional Italian and homemade foods, might beat the friendly staff in greeting you. It will be a tight race, and either way, you are in for a treat.
The Collegeville Italian Bakery, located along Ridge Pike, is a true family affair. Owners Steve and Patrizia Carcarey are carrying on the family traditions Patrizia learned as a child.
“When I was a kid, I always watched my mom cook,” said Patrizia, whose family, she said, hails “off the boat” from Nusco, Italy. “I definitely got my inspiration to cook from my mom.”
Patrizia’s father worked a number of years in construction, an odd way to get a start as a baker.
“He worked so many years outside, hurt his back, and, I don’t know, one day he just decided to open up a bakery,” she said.
The rest, as they say, is history. Now the Trappe-based family operates a bustling Lower Providence Townships business baking bread, pastries and dishing up everything from hoagies to pound cakes.
“It’s got a lot of charm, I think that’s what people love,” said Patrizia. “It has a little bit of everything.”
From her mother’s recipe for chicken cutlets to hand-rolled, homemade meatballs, the menu here has so much to chose from, it is hard to pick a favorite.
“These are real, local products,” said Patrizia. “We bake our own bread, everyday. We carry local goods.”
Even the cutlets are made by hand.
“They aren’t frozen, we do them by hand,” said Patrizia. “If you go to my mom’s house, you’d get the same that you get here. You can really taste the difference.”
The business is surely not one-sided, however, she explained.
“It takes a lot of teamwork,” said Patrizia. “Steve is great in the front of the house. He has the skills there. I work more behind the scenes. I like to say he has the ideas, and I execute them. There is no way this place could operate without one or the other.”
Steve lived up to his reputation during a recent busy lunch stop. Each third Thursday the location hosts a Pork and Beans Pig Roast. With a full roasted pig placed on a buffet table, lunch diners can choose to make a sandwich right there and dine in, or take an entire container home for later.
As streams of customers, including everyone from the local FBI offices, to the Lower Providence Police Department, entered the front door, Steve greets each person by name. He knows all his regulars, and never forgets a face.
“We’ve been here since 1994,” he said. “We really try to make it one-stop shopping. You don’t have to go downtown.”
Instead of a long trek to South Philadelphia or Reading Terminal Market, Steve aims to carry products all local shoppers can enjoy without the traveling.
From DiBruno Bros. meats, to Martin’s Sausages and Czerw’s kielbasa, there is an endless assortment of goods in the Bakery’s refrigerated cases.
The couple also recently expanded the facility to allow for a full dining room. When the neighboring business, a car rental office, when up for sale, the two knew what they had to do.
“We lowered the floor, added three big televisions,” explained Steve of the expansive dining room. “We do confirmations, communions, parties.”
Lining the new dining rooms are strings of photographs of Patrizia’s family. Hailing from the Old Country, pictures of vineyards and dirt roads bring that extra level of “charm” Patrizia mentioned.
The space also allows for unique nights at the local business.
“We have Ladies’ Night, Family Night, Men’s Night,” said Steve. “We have each once a month, it is BYO, with a set price. There is even live Italian music.”
Offering dining in, take-out, shopping aisles, party space, catering and baked goods, the products here are vast. While they offer much, Patrizia said it is the small size that keeps them going.
“It is such a mom and pop shop,” she said. “We are carrying on the traditions. I grew up in the east end of Norristown, and you’d have so many places to shop, but now you have mega supermarkets. You start to lose the charm.”
With hand-carving stations offering ham on Mondays, turkey on Wednesdays and roast beef on Fridays, there are endless specials popping up on the shop’s menu.
For more information on upcoming events at the Collegeville Italian Bakery, keep an eye on the website here or Like them on Facebook here. You can also order online here or call 610-489-3354. The Collegeville Italian Bakery is opened from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
During the Arcola Bridge closing, the business is offering a discount Monday through Friday for those that wish to stop in for dinner. Those dining in can get 15 percent off from 4 to 7 p.m., turning some frustrating traffic into a delicious excuse to dine locally.
The bakery is located at 3846 W. Germantown Pike.