Maria and Anthony Perreca-Papa are artisans. They run a family owned bakery in the "Little Italy" neighborhood of Schenectady, just a few blocks from our VITA site.
Perreca's Bakery is one of the treasures of Schenectady. Legend has it that actor Jack Nicholson discovered this bread when he was in this area filming a movie decades ago (long before the days of movie tax credits!) and that he was so captivated by its excellence that he still has it delivered on a regular basis.
I have no way to confirm whether that story is still true, but I can tell you for sure that many of the finest restaurants all over this area boast that they get their bread from Perreca's. But it's absolutely best bought and eaten in the small cafe right on the premises of the bakery.
Their prices are very reasonable, yet the quality is superb, because the family that has run the place for almost a century takes enormous pride in their work. (They have been in business since 1913, the same year the 16th Amendment paved the way for the income tax!)
The bread wrappers, T-shirts, signs and other Perreca’s paraphernalia note that the business dates from 1914, but “that’s not exactly true,” says Maria Perreca-Papa. “My grandfather actually started the store in 1913, but later he was too superstitious to say it was that year.” Perreca-Papa and her brother, Anthony, are the third generation to own and run the business. Source: Metroland
A blogger called "Forgotten Buffalo" (no relation to me, just an Upstater from Buffalo, NY way over on the far side of the state) has a post on his blog with great photos that show how Perreca's still uses their 80-year-old coal-fired oven and time-tested old world techniques to make bread that truly deserves the title "artisanal." Old-fashioned technology and devoted bakers who know their craft and pursue it with a passion for excellence make a product that is a really special treat.