RAMSEY, N.J. -- Vicki Wells may have roots in New Jersey (she grew up in Plainfield, now lives in Hoboken), but the heart and soul of her pastry creating is Italian/Mediterranean influenced.
In other words, when you visit Ramsey's L'Arte , expect items like cornetti (an Italian version of croissants), handmade cannoli (shells and cream made that day and with candied citrus to boot), and schiacciata, a sweet yeasted bread with champagne grapes.
The cafe, which bills itself as a "pasticceria" offering contemporary Italian pastries and breads, also features its housemade gelato, now served year-round.
And Wells' favorite: a limoncello cheesecake.
Wells said she likes cooking with olive oils and local, seasonal items such as grapes apples, pears and figs.
She got her love for these ingredients from her grandmother, who grew up in a farm in Italy.
She came to the cafe a year and a half ago -- after eight years as executive pastry chef at famed chef Bobby Flay's restaurant's in the City -- first as a consultant, and then, after an offer from owners Vince and Regina Paparo, as pastry chef and partner.
She said what differentiates L'Arte from other pastry shops is its use of all natural ingredients. "Everything is made from scratch," she said. "We use a lot of local fruit, produce, eggs, milk and cream."
The shop also uses Wells' personal recipes she's developed over the years, many of which utilize her love of olive oil, nuts, and citrus fruits.
Right now she is making lots of items with late-summer/early fall produce including heirloom tomatoes, corn, figs, apples, peaches, plums, and grapes.
Popular sellers include L'Arte's fruit crostate made with homemade jams, rum-soaked babas, cookies, specialty cakes, and pizza, which is served on Thursdays and Fridays.
Wells said half of the shop's products are traditional Italian pastries and the other half are innovative products she's developed using Italian flavors and Mediterranean ingredients.
L'Arte is at 109 E. Main St., (201)-934-3211, www.larte.biz/ .
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