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Alpine Pastry Shoppe

59 Route 111 Smithtown, NY 631-265-5610

Traditional Italian pastries sfingi, left, and zeppoli are

(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

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Type: Sweets, Food, Shopping Description:

Don't let its bakery's name mislead you: The Cuccia family hails from Sicily, a good thousand miles from the nearest Alp.

Angelo Cuccia explained that when his father, Anthony, bought Alpine in 1981, the lawyers suggested he keep the name, lest wholesale clients flee. More than 30 years later, the original German owners are a dim memory, and Alpine has established itself as a highly regarded Italian bakery.

It's a year-round destination for fragile, freshly filled cannoli, gargantuan flaky lobster tails -- and virtually every other cake, pie, tart, cookie and pastry you can think of. But Sicilian origins are front and center as St. Joseph's Day, March 19, approaches.

"As soon as Christmas is over, people start calling," said Angelo's brother Peter. " 'When are you going to start making the sfingi and zeppoli?' " About 10 years ago, they decided Super Bowl Sunday would mark the beginning of the sfingi season. It lasts through Easter. "If you make these things all year round," Angelo said, "they lose their meaning."

Sfingi and zeppoli both start with the same egg-enriched cream-puff dough. Sfingi are piped out using a plain-tipped pastry bag; zeppoli with a fancy fluted French tip. Both are deep fried, then sfingi are topped with a ricotta-based cannoli cream; zeppoli are split, then filled and topped with an Italian custard. Both bear the hallmark garnish of the Sicilian kitchen: candied fruit. (Both sell for $1.99 small, $2.99 large.)

Sfingi and zeppoli will be followed by grain pie, pastiera and other paschal treats.

Hours: Mon.-Thurs: 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Fri.-Sat.: 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Sun: 6:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.