You wouldn’t know by its name, but House of Cakes in Park Ridge has deep Italian roots. Owned and operated by Gerardo and Marie Nigro since 1987, the tiny storefront is a cornucopia of cannoli, pizza, focaccia, sfogliatelle, cuccidati and more, as well as wedding cakes and a host of American pastries and baked goods.
Tortes, coffee cakes, donuts, cookies, strudels and breads fill their shelves to capacity, and all of their butter cookies are made with real butter. Seasonal favorites include pumpkin, apple and cherry pie as well as pumpkin and apple slices.
By far their most popular items are their cheese sticks. Often imitated and never duplicated, they feature an airy cream cheese filling nestled in flaky pastry and topped with powdered sugar. “People have tried to copy them, but our customers tell us that they never come close,” Marie proudly notes. Available in regular and mini sizes, they fly off the shelves by the tray during the holidays and make a wonderful addition to sweet tables at weddings and other special events. (They’re only 99 cents each on Tuesday if you want to stop in and give them a try.)
With son, Vincent, and daughter, Christina, joining their parents in the family business, customers will be happy to know that their cheese sticks and other baked delights will be available for a generation to come. (houseofcakeschicago.com)