When I was a little girl, I always looked forward to my father’s New York business trips. He never returned home empty-handed. Without fail, he came bearing treats from Veniero’s.
Veniero’s Pasticceria and Caffe opened in 1894 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. My father grew up in Stuyvesant town around the corner. His Italian mother passed her love of Italian confections early on to him, and as a result, my father haunted Veniero’s throughout his childhood and young adulthood. In turn, my father passed this taste onto his daughters.
Although we lived all the way across the country in Portland, OR, Veniero’s became an important fixture in our family life. My father's favorites became our favorites, which we then passed on to our children. To this day, extended family Christmas celebrations are not complete without Anise Toast, Pignoli (pine nut) cookies, and the famous Veniero’s cookie tray.
I cherish Veniero’s. This old world café, with its stamped copper ceilings and long glass display cases filled with ornate Italian pastries and the scent of freshly baked biscotti, has played an important role in the story of our family. This place was part of my father’s, my own, and now my daughters' childhoods. It is a place that connects us to the life my grandparents lived in old New York. It is a place to take a small family pilgrimage. For the sake of my family and the many others for whom Veniero’s has a similar significance, I hope their business continues to flourish for generations to come.
Passing rituals down through the generations is a vital way to keep family bonds strong and healthy. If your family has a tradition already, continue to carry the torch. If not, take some time to reflect on some thing or place you cherish, and consider introducing it to your family, thereby making it a part of your family story.