Carlo’s City Hall Bake Shop

Carlos will be on the Food Network tonight at 10pm in a cake contest. See the website for other times it’s on.

Celebration Cakes
Ten chefs, all strangers, pair up in five teams of two. For the first part of the competition, they work separately. Then, in the final two hours, the teams get to work together. Their challenge: to come up with a cake that’s worthy of $10,000. Only there’s a twist…and it’s a big one. The competitors won’t find out until minutes before the competition WHO their partners are and WHAT the theme is. This is a competition that tests creativity and cooperation, all under a ticking clock.

More baked goods. Tasty though.
Description – Italian Bakery specializing in custom cakes.
Services – Custom birthday & wedding cakes. Full line of Italian & American baked goods, Tiramisu, Espresso
Website –
Address – 95 Washington St, Hoboken, New Jersey ( NJ ) 07030-4533
Telephone – (201) 659-3671,(201) 659-3480
Carlos Bake Shop.JPG

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80 Comments on "Carlo’s City Hall Bake Shop"

9 years 4 months ago

One of the coolest things I’ve ever read.
Sorry I don’t have the original link.

Hoboken bakery grants Calif. man’s dying wish – its famed crumb cake
Saturday, October 09, 2004
By Maria Zingaro Conte

Mauro Castano had one package that he knew absolutely, positively had to reach its destination overnight.

Castano, one of the owners of Carlo’s City Hall Bakery in Hoboken, was on a mission to fulfill a dying man’s last wish: He had to get one of his shop’s special crumb cakes across the country to Albert Florentine’s home in Sacramento, Calif., and he had to get it there right away.

Never mind that Federal Express, the overnight courier, told Castano that it wasn’t making pickups in the Mile Square City or guaranteeing regular overnight deliveries because the Republican National Convention, taking place just across the river in New York City at the time, was making travel difficult. Castano was going to get the cake to California if he had to take it himself.

His mission began with a heartbreaking telephone call on Sept. 2 from Susan Florentine, Al’s daughter.

She explained that her father, a former Jersey City resident who grew up on Danforth Avenue, had never lost his taste for the cake from Hoboken with the “big bumps” of sugar and butter on top.

She also told Castano that her father had been diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer just days earlier and didn’t have much longer to live.

For weeks before the diagnosis came, Al Florentine, 71, had suffered from a sharp pain in his hip and an even sharper decline in his appetite, causing his weight to drop precipitously.

“By the time we got the diagnosis, the cancer was so far advanced,” Susan Florentine recalled.

There was little the doctors could do. But they gave the ailing man medication to ameliorate his discomfort. To his family’s delight, one drug even restored his appetite.

Asked what he wanted to eat, Al Florentine was unequivocal.

“He wanted a crumb cake from Carlo’s Bakery. That was the first thing he wanted. Nothing else,” Susan Florentine said.

Clearly, a crumb cake from Carlo’s meant more to Al Florentine than the average baked good.

Florentine – a man his daughter describes as a cross between Fred Flintstone and Frank Sinatra, a “classic East Coast Italian” who would walk into a room like he owned it but never seemed snobby or arrogant – left Jersey City in 1962 in search of new opportunities. He decided to move his young family to California to join his sister who had already relocated there.

But he never completely let go of New Jersey or of his beloved hometown. Every few years, Florentine would drive across country – refusing to fly – to visit his old stomping ground, Susan Florentine said.

“He loved growing up in Jersey City. He loved Jersey City. Every best memory of his life was spent in Jersey City,” his daughter recalled.

Whenever her father or anyone else from the family made the trip back east, a stop at Carlo’s was a must. And somehow, one of those crumb cakes found its way back across the country to California every time, she said.

“He just shared such wonderful stories of his childhood back there (in Jersey City). He had certain memories and Carlo’s bakery was one of them,” she said.

A Carlo’s crumb cake meant home.

So hearing her father’s sickbed request, Susan Florentine called the bakery.

Castano, on the other end of the line, promised he’d ship out a cake right away. It wasn’t such an unusual thing for him to do.

The bakery – owned by Castano’s wife’s family – has been operating in Hoboken since 1910, first out of a shop at Fourth and Adams streets and then moving 14 years ago to its current location, on Washington Street. Castano said the man who originated the crumb cake recipe decades ago is still an employee.

“That’s one of the few items I do ship out,” he said. “They’re the best. They’ve got the really thick crumbs on top and sponge on the bottom.”

But fate had other plans for Castano’s cake.

“The convention was happening in New York and I was having a hard time shipping stuff out,” the baker said.

FedEx couldn’t guarantee overnight deliveries because of convention-related traffic restrictions at the bridges and tunnels in the area.

The next day, Castano spoke to Susan Florentine again and told her the shipment would have to wait until Monday, after the convention cleared out of town.

The news moved Susan Florentine to tears. She knew her father’s window of opportunity was closing and he wouldn’t be able to eat for much longer.

“With all the other pressures, it was just the last thing and I started crying to the poor man on the phone.” she said. “Poor Mauro, I think he was crying on the other end of the phone with me, but I said I understood.”

They hung up.

But minutes later, Castano called her back.

He couldn’t turn his back on this woman in her time of need, he said, when his own family was facing a similar situation. As it happened, Castano’s wife’s grandmother was also gravely ill. The baker understood all too well what was at stake.

“I hung up the phone and I said ‘I can’t do it,’ so I called her back and said give me your exact address,” Castano said.

Florentine recalled Castano promised to make sure the cake got out that night, even if it meant he had to take the package himself to the Federal Express terminal on Church Street in New York City. Instead, Castano wound up taking it to the UPS station in Hoboken.

“My cousin works for UPS in town. I got it to him,” Castano said. “He said ‘I’ll make sure it gets there.'”

The crumb cake arrived at the Florentines’ house early the next morning.

“And not just one cake, three cakes,” Susan Florentine said. “And he didn’t charge me a penny.”

She said her father sat with his family around the kitchen table one last time and ate the Hoboken cake for breakfast, telling stories about New Jersey all the while.

“I don’t know what he enjoyed more, the cake or the fact that somebody did that for him. He kept saying, ‘He doesn’t even know me.'” Florentine said. “But I’d say he probably ate half the cake himself.”

Susan Florentine said she will remain forever grateful to the Hoboken baker, whom she’s never met, for going out of his way for her family. Had Castano waited until Monday to send the cakes, her father would not have been able to eat them.

“He declined so quickly,” she said. “When he got really sick, he had no appetite whatsoever.”

Al Florentine died on Sept. 12, just eight days after receiving the cakes.

But because of Mauro Castano, Susan Florentine said she has no regrets over her father’s last days and she jokes that St. Peter probably had to wipe cake crumbs off her father’s chin before he was allowed into heaven.

“It wasn’t just about having the cakes,” she said. “It was about what the cakes meant to my dad. It was about the flood of stories that came with them. (Mauro) would never know what it meant to us . My father was a happy man with no regrets. He died the way he wanted to.”

9 years 2 months ago

I read that article above and thought it was awesome as well.

This food network thing sounds great. I am addicted to food network and HGTV. gonna set my dvr so i remember.

9 years 2 months ago

FAP – thanks for that story – it made me cry into my coffee!

I’ll have to try the crumb cake soon…and the cannolis etc!

9 years 2 months ago

Okay have to say I was a bit disappointed in Buddy’s orginality. His demonstrated good team work but his design was a bit lame. We never found out what place he came it but it wasn’t the top three.

They mentioned he makes over 400 birthday cakes a day. That seems a little high for such a small city as Hoboken dont you think? 400 a week i can believe.

9 years 2 months ago

Maybe the bake shop makes birthday cakes for other non-bakery stores and ships them? Lots of bakeries do this, for all sorts of breads and cakes.