Missy Antonelli always wanted to honor the memory of her grandmother Mary DeNegre Antonelli (pictured at age 16 with bow) by creating a shop that echoed the old Italian bakeries on Wooster Street with their multi-level wedding-cake displays she remembered as a kid.
She has followed through by opening Sweet Mary’s on Court Street between Orange and State.
It has shining old-fashioned displays in the window showing the sizes of cakes available. Inside the gleaming built-out former nail salon are marble counters and old sweet-shop style decanters of turquoise rock candy on a stick.
Yet what would the original Sweet Mary make of one of Missy Antonelli’s latest creations—including the “Elvis” (pictured), a cupcake with chocolate, peanut butter, and banana rocking all over the place?
Mmmmmm . . . yummy.
Click on the video of great-granddaughter Hayley DiGianni creating the latest in the endlessly evolving cupcakes at Sweet Mary’s.
Wednesday morning it was the “Spartan,” a pistachio green and white confection to honor the colors of DiGianni’s Michigan State University.
She has just finished her freshman year with a 3.1 average, sufficient to renew her scholarship. She returned home in time to help mom in the new store for a month.
Missy Antonelli (who asked not to be photographed) says business is going very well in the first weeks. She is struggling to keep up with demand, especially for the most popular item in the store: Death by Chocolate.
The original Sweet Mary lived on Academy Street. Then the family moved to the Annex, where Missy Antonelli’s dad was born. She grew up in East Haven, but visits to Libby’s Italian Pastry Shop and other eateries on Wooster Street were common.
Two years ago she began thinking about opening the business, her first, at the urging of friends. Her volunteer baking for the Spirit All-Stars gym in Hamden had become a fundraising hit.
The bakery recently added cookies to the menu. A scone recipe is on the way. But just to keep up with the cupcake demand it’s an all-hands-on-deck effort for Antonelli’s large family, not only kids, but cousins and nephews who are all pitching in.
Pleasure in the sparkling place and pride in the product are certainly evident. At this point “nobody’s getting paid,” Antonelli said.
Antonelli works from early morning until it gets dark or until they’ve finished preparing the lemon cupcakes with blueberry, or the Elvises, or the Death by Chocolate, or the ones with mango filling that Raquel Santiago-Martinez (pictured) came in to buy before 8 a.m. Wednesday: 18 of them, to take up to her office in Hartford.
There Santiago-Martine;s boss Lena Rodriguez was celebrating her 50th birthday at the same time that the agency, the Community Renewal Team, is also marking a half century.
That’s worth lots of Elvises and Death by Chocolate. Santiago-Martinez tasted some of Antonelli’s creations at an event at Hopkins School recently and made a special trip to Court Street for the special occasion.
Missy Antonelli said she was born on her grandmother’s birthday, so the cupcake spirit runs deep here.
On June 7 local economic development folks will drop by with the golden scissors to mark a formal opening, and certainly to grab a cupcake or two. Or three.