“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”
Edit: Mastroianni Bros. is now closed.
I’m from Schenectady and I would love to see anyone who would fight the fact that Schenectady has the best Italian food in the Capital Region. It’s just that- a fact. What goes best with Italian food? Italian bread. I’m so happy I had the opportunity to get a tour of the facilities of one of my personal favorite bakeries in the area, Mastroianni Bros.
I was met by Bill Busacker [President], who is probably one of the nicest people I’ve met, and we were off! I probably fangirled a little too hard since I found it so fascinating to see where my favorite bread is actually made.
When I first walked in, the smell hit me in the face. It was delicious! Sure, you can bake bread in your own house but imagine loaves on loaves on loaves of your favorite bread being baked in one room, aka. heaven. The process starts in a room with this huge bag for flour. Their flour is cut and brought in from the Port of Albany. They bring flour in huge tanker trucks a little more than once per week and put them through tubes that dump into this huge bag that can hold 60,000 lbs of flour. When I say huge, I mean huge. You would have to put 5’10” me standing on my head at least 3 times over for that height.
Next, the flour is brought in by vacuum to mixing bowls to weigh all the ingredients so that they get the same measurements every time. Each mixing bowl holds about 650 lbs of dough. After that, the bowls with the dough are rolled over and dumped into hoppers. They have one that has a mold for loaves and the other for their rolls. It felt like I was on a real-life episode of Unwrapped. it was so cool! Once the loaves are cut and put on a rack to sit, each one holding about 80, they’re then rolled into a room to rise. Most of the facility is 50 degrees but one step in this room and you can feel the humidity. 90 degrees and 70% humidity, I felt like I could do a hot yoga session in there with the delicious smells of bread!
Finally the best part in the bread-making process, the cooking! There are 10 beautiful brick ovens with 2 doors each (20 ovens, technically) where they can bake about 1280 loaves an hour! These ovens were incredible. I got a chance to peek inside of one and it went so far back that they have a special machine to put the loaves in and take them out since it’d be hard to reach in there otherwise. I think the special trick is the 23 inches of stone at the bottom of each oven that Bill told me about. That’s how they cook the magic, happiness, and delicious in each loaf.
It was overall an incredibly interesting process. Mastroianni Bros was founded in the 1923 by 8 Mastroianni Brothers and they still hold the same delicious standards to this day. Now, you can find their bread all across the state and they’re still growing as a company. They’ll soon be coming out with a homemade sourdough (I got to get a preview smell of it, I approve), a Brooklyn Deli Rye, and an All-Natural 7 Grain that I’m pretty excited to try. They also recently started a partnership with some other delicious Schenectady brands like Gatherer’s Granola, Villa Italia, Casa Visco, Garafalo’s and Pede Brothers. They’re planning on working together to promote locally owned food and beverage manufacturers in Schenectady and across New York State. If you haven’t tried a loaf of their Italian bread, Whole Wheat, Cinnamon Raisin, Honey Oat or more, you need to. This is the first brand I grab from the grocery store when I’m eating anything that involves marinara sauce. Next, I’m gonna make pizza with their pizza dough, also available in stores. So, grab a loaf and tell me how much you loved it, because I KNOW you will!
They’ll be sponsoring a ton of events in the future with their new partnership, starting with a retirement party for Uncle Vito from PYX106 at Malozzi’s on October 14th!
[Quote from James Beard]