2012-03-02 / Community

Sweet taste of Italy

Tuscan-born Carrara brothers open Italian pastry shop in Moorpark
By Darleen Principe darleen@theacorn.com

CHEFS—Damiano Carrara, right, recently opened Carrara Pastries in Moorpark with his brother Massimiliano, left, and father, Ivan. 
WENDY PIERRO/Acorn Newspapers CHEFS—Damiano Carrara, right, recently opened Carrara Pastries in Moorpark with his brother Massimiliano, left, and father, Ivan. WENDY PIERRO/Acorn Newspapers In Italy, a kindness is often repaid or a guest welcomed with a box of sweets from the “pasticceria” on the corner.

These authentic Italian pastry shops traditionally offer a mouthwatering selection of cakes, cookies, breads, and sometimes even coffee or gelato.

Brothers Damiano and Massimiliano Carrara—natives of Lucca, Tuscany in Italy—know just how much an Italian dessert can warm the soul.

So now that the two have reunited in the United States, they’re excited to share a customary piece of their home and culture with their new neighbors in Moorpark.

“ For the past two years I have been saving money here, and my brother was saving money in Italy,” Damiano, 26, said. “And then (in December) my brother came from Italy and now our dream is a reality.”

Two years ago, Damiano started working as a bartender at Café Firenze in Moorpark, after he met Jacopo Falleni, co-owner of the restaurant, through a bartending association.

Damiano said he’d often ask to work double shifts at Café Firenze so he could maximize his earnings, while 24-year-old Massimiliano refined his skills as a pastry chef in Lucca.

As they worked hard on opposite sides of the world, the brothers dreamed of opening a business together in America. Their original idea was to open a warehouse specializing in Italian pastries and sell them to catering companies and restaurants throughout Southern California.

But when a space opened up on West Los Angeles Avenue in Moorpark, Damiano came up with a better idea—to open a storefront based on the authentic pasticcerias of Italy.

“People are able to come in and look at what we are doing,” Damiano said. “Instead of being in a warehouse, we can talk to people. What we want to do is keep the freshness and do the good things that come from Italy.”

On Dec. 12, Carrara Pastries opened in Moorpark. Since then, it’s been building a reputation as one of the most promising new businesses in the city.

Decorated with a Tuscan flair, the small shop gives residents a taste of classic Italian favorites, including profiteroles, tarts, sponge cakes and tiramisu.

Carrara Pastries also specializes in sandwiches, homemade croissants and “semifreddo” desserts, such as cold cakes and semi-frozen mousses made with yogurt or fruit.

“Many people think Italian (food) is just cannoli and pizza,” Damiano said. “But that’s because most of the people are influenced here in America—especially in California—by Southern Italy. We are not from the south of Italy, so we bring here the real Italian pastries . . . from the north, the south—a little bit of everything.”

Made from scratch

Moorpark residents Rock Galotti and Jackie York discovered Carrara Pastries last week when York ordered a guitar-shaped cake for her niece’s birthday.

When they came to pick up the cake on Saturday, they were impressed by the final product and surprised by the warm welcome.

The Carraras offered them a taste of their special frittellas, bite-size Italian doughnuts with a Chantilly cream filling.

“We call them little balls of heaven,” Galotti said. “When you put it in your mouth it literally melts. It’s phenomenal.”

On Monday, the pair returned for the third day in a row to purchase more of the little desserts.

“In Moorpark, to have a place of this caliber is amazing,” Galotti said. “And then, for the owners to be the nicest people you’ll ever meet. They’re just this down-toearth, good family. It’s just so nice.”

Massimiliano, who graduated from the Italian Pastry Academy of Rimini in Italy, started working in pasticcerias when he was 14.

These days he is a professional pastry chef who specializes in chocolate sculpting and sugar pulling, a special decorating technique where caramelized sugar is used to make artistic sculptures.

“You’ve got to see it to believe it,” Damiano said about his brother. “You just have to watch what he does—the sugar-pulling techniques, the wedding cake techniques. The things he does are just outstanding.”

Together, the Carrara brothers have just the right combination of skills to make their business a success, Damiano said.

Massimiliano handles all the creation, while his older brother takes care of the marketing and business aspect of the shop.

“I let every single person try the product,” Damiano said. “I like the more friendly touch and talking to people. I love it.”

Carrara Pastries is at 476 W. Los Angeles Ave., Unit A-13 in Moorpark. The shop is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, go online to www.carrarapastries.com.

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