Tampa has several excellent restaurants that are considered iconic to the city — Alessi Bakery is one of those select places that are among the greats. Alessi Bakery dates back to 1912 and has been an institution in the city ever since.
Alessi Bakery is well known for its great Cuban sandwiches, delicious deviled crabs, sumptuous pastries, and elaborate wedding cakes. And I can’t write this piece without a shout out to the Alessi scachatta.
What is scachatta, you ask?
Scachatta is a type of flat, square pizza. Alessi’s scachatta is a Sicilian recipe involving a soft, evenly textured bread, lightly scattered cheese, a sweet — but not sugary — tomato sauce, and seasoned ground beef.
You could go to Alessi’s just for the scachatta… and many people do. But I have never left with scachatta alone. In fact, a meal at Alessi Bakery for me is never complete without a Cuban sandwich and something from the pastry counter.
And, at the place “where quality rules,” you will never be disappointed when you sink your teeth into an eclair, brownie, or one of their countless specialty sugar cookies. They always have something colorful for the season or nearest holiday, cookies celebrating the local professional sports teams, and they even sell political cookies. They even let you “vote” for your favorite candidate based on which cookies you buy.
Back to those Alessi Cuban sandwiches for a moment. Now, if you’re privy to the Tampa Cuban sandwich wars, you know that everybody has their own idea as to what bakery has the “best” Cuban sandwich, most “authentic” Cuban sandwich, or what have you.
Alessi Cuban sandwiches come on crunchy Cuban bread and are filled with ham, salami, Spanish pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and mayonnaise. As diehard Cuban sandwich aficionados know, a “real” Cuban sandwich doesn’t come with lettuce and tomato. If you want either of those on your Alessi Cuban sandwich, you better stop by the sandwich counter for a special order.
And while you’re at that special order counter, which is off to your left when you enter Alessi Bakery, be sure to buy a deviled crab or papa rellena (“stuffed potato”). If you’re like me, you’ll top them off with lots of Texas Pete hot sauce (packets are provided for free at Alessi Bakery) and have lots of napkins on hand (also complimentary!).
Last but not least, the service at Alessi Bakery is top notch. I’ve always been greeted with friendly smiles and helpful, courteous staff. The lines can get a little long during lunch, but isn’t that supposed to be a good thing? When it comes to the restaurant industry, I’ve always heard that long lines equal excellent food. Among the third generation of Alessi Bakery patrons in my family, I can see why this restaurant is as much a tradition in my household as it is in the Greater Tampa community.
If you want to stop on by and see for yourself how great Alessi Bakery is, they’re located at 2909 W. Cypress Street in West Tampa, about two miles west of downtown Tampa and around two miles southeast of Raymond James Stadium.
If the weather is nice, be sure you take some time to enjoy your meal on the covered deck attached to the west side of the bakery, or sit under the shade of the store’s covered front walkway — you will find plenty of tables and chairs in both locations. If you’re heading to the Florida State Fair in February, you can find Alessi Bakery selling their treats to fairgoers inside in the Expo Hall.