August-September 2018 Issue of Inside New Orleans

Page 42

brother in a while, Father Tony.’” he says. What drew—and continues to draw—the pastor of historic Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is the same thing that’s attracted locals and tourists to Brocato’s for 113 years, the same thing that generates long lines of customers most nights. “The gelato and pastries are absolutely authentic to Sicily,” Father Tony says. “They make everything fresh, every day. For me, it’s a connection to my childhood and to Italy.”

A Family Tradition Eighty-year-old “Miss Mickey” Brocato (named for her grandmother, Michelina, Angelo’s wife) is the third generation of the Brocato family to offer New Orleans the tempting tastes of Sicily. Her grandfather Angelo Brocato

Angelo Brocato’s

Arthur Brocato. 42

A New Orleans Institution Since 1905

WHEN FATHER TONY REGOLI hosts out-of-town guests, one of the first places he takes them is Angelo Brocato’s in Mid-City. A transplant from Buffalo, New York, Regoli first discovered the authentic Italian ice cream parlor and bakery 16 years ago when he moved to New Orleans. “My parents are both from Sicily, and I grew up in an Italian neighborhood,” he says. “When I first found Brocato’s, I went crazy. I was in there every day and sometimes more than once a day.” He visited the Carrollton Avenue business so often, in fact, that he jokingly told a young employee he was one of identical twins. “She said, ‘Weren’t you just here?’ So, I told her that was my twin brother, Anthony, but I was Tony,” he laughs. “She took me seriously and, each time I came in—which was several times a week—she’d ask me which brother I was. Today, I’d be Tony. Tomorrow, I’d be Anthony.” Of course, she eventually caught on to the ruse, and it’s become a running joke between the priest and the Brocato family. “When I visit now, they tell me, ‘We haven’t seen your

Inside New Orleans

was born in Cefalù, Sicily, and, at the age of 12, became an apprentice in one of Palermo’s most elegant ice cream parlors, learning the recipes and techniques that had been handed down for generations. When he migrated to the United States as a young man, he brought those recipes and all that knowledge with him and opened his first business, a tiny ice cream store on Decatur Street. The enterprise quickly prospered. In 1905, he was able to open a larger parlor in the 500 block of Ursulines Street in the French Quarter, and then to expand again in 1921, this time with an iconic white-tiled space modeled after fashionable parlors in Palermo, including ceiling fans, gas lamps, and sawdust on the floor. Also located on Ursulines, it was in the heart of a thriving Italian neighborhood known as Little Palermo. Brocato’s quickly became known for its rich, dense, custard-based gelatos, its cassata cake filled with ricotta cheese and iced with marzipan, lemonfilled “grandmother” cakes, candied fruits, and handchurned ice cream in authentic Italian flavors, such as


by Mimi Greenwood Knight