A local bakery spreads holiday cheer with festive desserts

Tim Malone, Associate Producer

As the holiday season approaches and students prepare to head home for winter break, many holiday traditions are making their return. Of those traditions, a local bakery is showcasing how their festive desserts magnify the holiday spirit in Connecticut.

Petonito’s Pastry and Cupcake Shoppe located in East Haven, Conn. has been extra busy preparing for the holiday rush.

“I started here when I was 16, back in 1983. I worked for Mr. Salvatore Petonito,” Regina Criscuolo, the bakery owner said. “I was here for 11 years, left to, you know, go to college, become a teacher. Then four years ago, his son Mark was selling the business. So my husband and I decided to buy it.

Although Criscuolo spent many years away from the bakery as a teacher, she said it was always a dream to come back.

“I’ve always wanted to own a bakery and to be able to own this bakery had a lot of sentimental value. My husband and I met at this bakery and this is where we fell in love. So there’s a lot of history in this particular bakery for us.” Criscuolo said. 

Petonito’s holds a wide variety of desserts and they say they really get creative when finding new ideas for their sweets. These include cannoli wreaths, cannoli cookies and even a large cannoli that is filled with more cannolis. Plus, each of these cannolis are hand made on the cannoli press from the 1930s.

“You know, I tend to always be pushing something new. I’m a teacher by trade, so I think, you know, the teacher in me always comes out with new ideas, but everybody comes up with different ideas at different times here,” Criscuolo said. “So it’s a, it’s a family-run business. And even our staff is like our family. It’s a small, small group of us and everybody just pitches in to make everything work. We couldn’t do it without, you know, our wonderful staff and family.”

Bringing this bakery right to the Quinnipiac community, Petonito sells a ‘bobcat box’ which has an assortment of Quinnipiac-themed cookies for students, faculty, friends or family to share. Criscuolo says she encourages all students to come and try her delicious offerings.