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The New Buon Pane Italiano: Best Bakery On The Beach

Buon Pane Italiano's Baguette, photo by Dario CestaroPane Pugliese at Buon Pane Italiano, photo by Dario CestaroAlberto Lionette, Buon Pane's Master Baker, photo by lee kleinTarts at Buon Pane Italiano, photo by Dario CestaroA Few Offerings at Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee kleinPotato, Mozzarella & Rosemary Pizza, photo by lee kleinSlice Of Potato, Mozzarella & Rosemary Pizza, photo by lee kleinPanzerotti (Fried Pizza) at Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee kleinTomato & Herb Pizza at Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee kleinFresh Peach Tart at Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee kleinFresh Cannolis! at Buon Pane Italiano, photo by Dario Cestaro Buon Pane Filone Bread, photo by Dario CestaroTartarughino at Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee kleinBaking Space At Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee kleinDario Cestaro, Manager And Face of Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee kleinAlberto Lionette, Master Baker And His Dough, photo by lee kleinBreads At Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee klein

Buon Pane Italiano bakery boasts having “probably the best bread in the world.” I’m not certain this is true, but I know that Buon Pane Italiano has the best bread on Miami Beach (and maybe Miami) as well as the best baguette in South Florida -- which may not be the world, but it ain’t bad. The recently opened bakery sits in a tiny storefront on 5th Street in South Beach (between Euclid and Meridian Avenues). 

Alberto Lionette, Buon Pane's Master Baker, photo by lee klein

The baker, Alberto Lionetti, is from Lucera, Foggia, in Puglia (the boot heel of southern Italy). Foggia is referred to as “the granary of Italy,” as well as “Italy’s bread basket.” “There are bakeries up and down every block in Lucera,” says fellow Puglian Dario Cestaro, the manager and face of the business, and the one who will likely be serving you at the shop. His father Walter Cestaro is the owner, providing not only the money but, according to Dario, "the bravery." Walter came with Dario to Miami and got down to business without hesitation: in a matter of weeks he had a property on 5th Street secured and the business plan moving ahead. 

Breads At Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee klein

Dario tells me of the evening when all the equipment and ingredients were finally in and Alberto could spend some time trying things out. Indeed, Mr. Lionetti spent the night baking away; no doubt he was ecstatic to finally be back at his art. When Dario walked in early the next morning, the entire counter was covered in dozens of breads, all manner of baked goods, a variety of pizzas...everything beautiful and astonishingly delicious. I hear this story and I'm thinking it's like the pastry version of that Stanley Tucci film Big Night.

Buon Pane Italiano's Baguette, photo by Dario Cestaro

Alberto has been baking in Italy for 35 years, 25 of them in his own bakery in Lucera. He came here with his 19-year old son Michele (who inherited his father's magic touch and assists him at Buon Pane). They left family and everything else behind in order to work with the Cestaros in Miami. They all thought it would take two months to open the bakery, but, in typical Miami food-establishment-opening-procedures it would be ten months. It wasn't to be an easy time for Alberto and Michele: They were in a new country, they don't speak English (but are taking classes), and both were itching to get to work.

You can watch Alberto make the breads, stuffed breads, sweet breads, breads with olives, breads with chocolate, fennel-accented rings (scaldatelli o taralli) baguettes, fruit tarts, crostada, cookies, cannolis, biscotti, bombolinis, rosettes, panzerotti...and the signature Foggia-style pizzas. And you should watch Alberto produce these wondrous goods, because it's much better than the movies. It is not an exaggeration to say Alberto Lionetti is a master at his craft. And Buon Pane Italiano is absolutely like that charming, family-run bakery you might encounter down a side street in Italy. 

Alberto Lionette, Master Baker And His Dough, photo by lee klein

Pane Pugliese is a wheaty, crusty bread made with flour, yeast, salt and water. By the name you can probably guess it's a specialty of Puglia. It's a flavorful country bread, is huge, and gets sold by the piece. You say how much you want and it gets sliced accordingly:

Pane Pugliese at Buon Pane Italiano, photo courtesy Buon Pane Italiano

Also worth trying is the filone bread, a yeasty, baguette-like loaf:

 Buon Pane Filone Bread, photo by Dario Cestaro

A steady stream of customers flow in and out of the shop all day – an amazing amount, really, in light of the newness (debuted in April) and lack of publicity. And do you know what all of these Buon Pane patrons are saying as they leave the bakery with their little bags of freshly baked treats? Neither do I, as they mostly speak Italian. But they look very happy. Plus their speaking Italian is a good sign in itself.

Tarts at Buon Pane Italiano, photo by Dario Cestaro

Buon Pane has become the talk of the neighborhood – I know, because I live in the neighborhood. This is the most exciting food event to hit 5th Street since TapTap premiered on the next block in 1994. And it is the best bread-lover news since Zak The Baker opened shop a couple of years ago. I really can’t say enough good things about Buon Pane, but I’ll try.

Baking Space At Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee klein

The baking gets done throughout the day by Alberto and Michele. They can barely keep up; as soon as they lay out a sheet tray of, say, freshly baked croissants, WHOOSH – they are scooped up and carried out and gone until tomorrow. As with all worthy bakeries, the early bird at Buon Pane gets the best goods. 

A Few Offerings at Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee klein

I’ve had potato & rosemary pizzas in Sardinia, but this one, with creamy mozzarella cheese below the spuds, is…well just try it and thank me later. The other pies come with an assortment of toppings, from straight tomato, to ones with mushrooms, or with ham, or stuffed with spinach or olives...

Potato, Mozzarella & Rosemary Pizza, photo by lee klein

Tomato & Herb Pizza at Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee klein

Slice Of Potato, Mozzarella & Rosemary Pizza, photo by lee klein

The Bomboloni are delectable (a round Pugliese donut -- fresh, hot, light, sweet). A second breakfast treat, less sweet, is the tartarughino (small breakfast roll; name derived from it looking like a turtle shell):

Tartarughino at Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee klein

Panzerotti, filled with mozzarella and tomato, is another Pugliese specialty and yet one more item worth trying:

Panzepotti (Fried Pizza), photo by lee klein

Don't miss the peach tart -- although if you arrive too late in the day that is exactly what you will do.

Fresh Peach Tart at Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee klein

Holy Cannoli:They're freshly made! 

Fresh Cannolis! at Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee klein

I haven't yet mentioned the affordability -- you can pick up a baguette for $2.40, and a small baguette for $1.20. Pizza slices start at $1.90. I'm not going to go through the whole menu but trust me: The pricing is more than fair.

Dario Cestaro, Manager And Face of Buon Pane Italiano, photo by lee klein

And so, in summation: Get the heck to Buon Pane Italiano right away if you enjoy great bread, pizza, pastries...it's not every day (or year) that a place like this arrives.