Even before stepping through the door of Grandaisy Bakery on 73 Sullivan St., it helps to know that head baker, Cristóbal Julio Guarchaj, as a boy in Guatemala watched how his father, a baker, milled wheat using using large rotating stones powered by wind and water to pulverize the grain into flour. As he grew older, he mastered treadle, the intricate Mayan craft of fabric weaving. Why the history lesson you ask? Because Guarchaj’s acquired skills and nationality are both an anomaly as well as perfectly reflected in the baked goods lining the racks in this warm glass cube fronted shop. The intricacy and complex interplay of flavors belie the fact that like other crafts, baking benefits from cross disciplinary influences. And the results? Deliciously Italian!
At the age of eighteen and new to the U.S., Guarchaj firmly established his own baking legacy with a signature line of brioche and seven-grain breads. Not only is this a community bakery loaded with artisanal breads and pastry made in small batches using local seasonal ingredients, you can eat a full meal here! My favorite offerings include their long tubular filone “big loaf” bread coated in wheat bran. Its dark baked crust gives it a burnt appearance but the taste is anything but. What a flavorful contrast to its moist interior! Their top pizza is the Bianca con Pecorino made with their crisp bianca dough (unbleached wheat flour and breadcrumbs) with 13 month aged Sardinian pecorino cheese folded in. The Finochio is smothered with fresh fennel, brushed with olive oil, and baked to perfection. For dessert, try their Pasticcine tart, raised layers of puff pastry spread with frangipane and then topped with a caramel-colored poached pear infused with vanilla and quince. Or dunk some Ossi di Morti, a delicate crunchy and crisp biscotti puffed with meringue and sugared almonds, into your coffee. Mangia!