Hoboken Residents Take the Cake

As a new resident of Hoboken, I have a voracious appetite for all there is to see (and eat) in the Mile Square City. Yet up until this past weekend, there was one place I vowed to never set foot in: Carlo’s Bakery.

It’s nothing against the Cake Boss himself. I’ve seen his show on TLC—and I love sweet treats as much as the next person. Yet every day as my tired feet drag me home from the train station to my apartment a few blocks away, I marvel at the ever-present line snaking its way around the corner of Washington and Newark streets (renamed “Carlo’s Bakery Way” last summer).

These people aren’t rowdy or rude; the bakery’s “bouncers” do a great job at controlling the crowds. But waiting in line for two hours (so I’ve heard) just to get inside a small bakery where you—yet again—wait to order? It sounds a little crazy.

So when my roommate’s family came to town this past weekend and suggested we take a walk over there in the sweltering heat, I was less than enthused.

Then I learned a local secret from my roommate’s little sister, a huge “Cake Boss” fan. “If you have a Hoboken license,” she informed us, “you can skip the line.” My intrigue was piqued. Visions of cannolis and pignolis began to dance in my head.

Armed with a newfound sense of curiosity, my roommate and I sauntered past the line, marched straight to the door and flashed our Hoboken licenses. Without a second glance, we were whisked inside with my roommate’s mother and sister in tow (each resident can bring in one guest). Once inside, we were taken to the front of the line. Catching the attention of a girl behind the corner, the bouncer pointed to us and said, “They’re next.”

I peered through the crowds into the display cases—themselves crowded with éclairs, napoleons and marzipan—while my roommate’s mother frantically ordered cupcakes and lobster tails. In an instant I was a kid again, peeking over the counters of the Italian bakeries in Brooklyn that my family would visit on trips to see my grandmother.

Minutes later, we were back out in the heat again, and I felt myself wanting more. I checked the hours and told my roommate that we’d have to make a return trip on a random weekday night right before closing. I want to get up close and personal with those pastries.

Later that evening, my roommate’s family departed, leaving us with two cupcakes to savor. We sampled the vanilla-frosted vanilla one. Moist and fluffy, with a sugary icing so sweet it almost hurt. Who knows? Maybe it’s even worth the wait.

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