Cardinali bread at Freshway Market
330 E. Jericho Tpke. Mineola, NY 516-280-6880
Freshway Market opened in October 2009, a modest supermarket with well-kept produce (much of it organic), meat and fish departments staffed by knowledgeable counter workers and a fantastic selection of artisanal breads baked by Frank Cardinali.
Yes, that Cardinali. Frank Cardinali founded his eponymous Cardinali Bakery in Carle Place in 1972 and subsequently opened bakeries in Syosset and Huntington. After selling the first two in the late 1990s and closing Huntington in 2005, he tried retirement for a few years but found that he missed getting up at the crack of dawn, lifting huge sacks of flour and standing in front of a hot oven.
When Freshway opened, Cardinali asked owner Peter Bivona if he needed a baker, and soon he was set up between the produce and the prepared foods. While the mixing and proofing are done in the store's basement, the oven is right there on the floor. As soon as you walk into Freshway, you can smell the fresh-baked bread.
According to Cardinali, who emigrated from Genoa, Italy, when he was 15, speed is the enemy of good bread. "Most bakeries take 12 minutes to mix the dough. I take 22 minutes and that way the temperature stays below 80 degrees."
Cardinali makes about 70 different varieties of bread, using a dozen different doughs. The rustic Italian loaves, made with a prefermented "biga" starter, have a crusty, deep-brown exterior. There are six different focaccias, walnut-hazelnut-raisin-cranberry breads (and rolls), baguettes, epis (baguettes cut to resemble stalks of wheat), brioches, panini rolls and a rich, porky "prosciutto bread." Everything is piled onto five sturdy, marble-topped tables that would be the envy of any specialty bread bakery. -- Erica Marcus
Frank Cardinali is the head baker at Freshway Market in Mineola. (June 7, 2010)