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May 28, 2023

Hidden dessert gem in Little Italy is charming - Vaccarro's pastry café is the perfect place to enjoy an after-dinner treat or stuff yourself silly with the Monday all-you-can-eat

By Samuya Gurbani | November 19, 2008

Baltimore's Little Italy is known for its small local-owned cafés cooking up some amazing authentic Italian foods. Vaccarro's, a local specialty pastry-and-coffee shop, is no exception.

Located just a few blocks from the Inner Harbor on Albemarle Avenue, Vaccarro's is quite the place to go if you're looking for a quick fix for your sweet tooth or something to quench your most sugary cravings.

Vaccarro's has been a Baltimore-based café from the start, when Italian confectioner Gioacchino Vaccaro first emmigrated from Italy in 1956 and set up the pastry shop. It's a family business. Giacchino's son currently runs the place.

Over the past 50 years, it has grown, and now the chain has five other mini-cafés in the Maryland-Washington, D.C. area. But their main kitchen is still located right in Little Italy.

Just taking a peek at their menu will be more than enough to make you salivate, if merely entering and taking a whiff of the smells from their kitchen didn't already. Cakes, gelatos, tiramisu, filled cookies, cream puffs, strong espressos and cappuccinos are just a small sampling of their many treats.

Oh, and you can't forget their famous homemade cannolis, so good that they even give you the option to ship a dozen to a friend anywhere in the U.S. With all of these delicious choices, it can be very difficult to settle on just one dessert.

So why not have it all? Perhaps the most unique aspect about Vaccarro's is their Monday night special: "All-You-Can-Eat Dessert and Coffee," every week from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. For a fixed price of $15.50, you have three hours to enjoy not just one or two, but as many of their delicious Italian treats as your stomach can fill. Hard to top that, isn't it?

There is a catch, however; it is not your typical buffet-style pile-your-plate-high restaurant. Vaccarro's still maintains an atmosphere of a high-class Italian café on Monday nights instead of becoming just a buffet. Though the desserts are unlimited, you can only have one pastry and one drink at a time.

Once you have finished that, you can order another. It's somewhat complicated, but it prevents consumers from wasting the chefs' concoctions by just eating a bite from each dessert available.

Confused? Here's a step-wise guide as to how to proceed.

1) Enter the café and be seated at an elegant spread table.

2) Select a pastry and a drink (alcoholic beverages aren't included) to start, and let your waitress know your selection.

3) Wait just a few minutes, and your freshly-made Italian dishes will arrive.

4) Proceed to satisfy your sugary pleasures.

5) Once you are almost finished, you may order another dessert and/or drink.

6) Repeat until you cannot eat another bite, or until closing time.

I went to Vaccarro's last Monday with the Crew team, and we indulged ourselves in one of the unhealthiest ways possible.

Each person had a different strategy for best combinations of desserts to order so as to get the most bang for their buck. Here are some of the more popular pastries and drinks, which may help you in making your first choice off the menu:

Cannoli - This is Vaccaro's specialty and definitely worth it. With the homemade, thick creamy sweet cheese just oozing out of the crispy shell, each bite will have you pining for another.

Mochaccino - Similar to a normal cappuccino, but with an added twist of hot cocoa. It is a great combination of semi-sweet chocolate and the natural strength of Italian espresso.

Gelato - Italian ice cream, comes in dozens of flavors with a large variety of toppings. Customize it to your favorite tastes!

The Collossus - This humongous dish is as delicious as it is large, and few have been able to finish it. A large Belgian waffle with gelato piled on top. It's not a confection for the light-hearted.

Overall, Vaccarro's is definitely a Baltimore classic, and a café that every Hopkins student should visit in their time here. Remember: Go on Monday nights between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to catch their sweetest deal.

This News-Letter writer gives Vaccarro's a two thumbs up! Buon Appetito!

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