Come on, admit it. You’ve been to Hoboken and waited in line for at least an hour—or six—to step foot inside the Carlo’s City Hall Bake Shop made insanely famous on TLC’s popular show, Cake Boss. Or maybe you went but threw up your hands in exasperation, settling for an oversized Crumbs cupcake down the street (because you didn’t know about the awesome little delights over on Garden Street at Sweet, perhaps).
Well, here’s the good news: you can have your cake without the wait because Carlo’s now has several locations around New Jersey. The fifth, and largest, just celebrated its grand opening in Morristown last month. And once the ribbon-cutting crowd made off with their piles of classic string-tied cardboard boxes, toting sweet treasures to be shared at home, the spacious, welcoming shop began enjoying an easy flow of traffic without the Hoboken pileups.
Buddy Valastro, the Cake Boss himself, was on hand for the opening and told Jersey Bites why he is so excited about this new location. “I know that sometimes there’s a misconception,” he explained. “People think we’re always too busy, that we can’t make a cake for someone, or that we’re going to be too expensive. But you can come in here and buy a $2 cupcake or you can buy a giant cake that could be thousands of dollars. It’s whatever you want. And it’s going to be quality; it’s going to be done right.”
“This is our biggest store yet, square-footage wise,” Valastro said. “We have an awesome party room in the back, where you can have your kid’s birthday party. We’ll also have cake decorating classes for adults, kids, beginners, experts. But what I love most about this store is that we have an open kitchen. I want people to know that we make stuff here fresh, in front of you. This is going to be the bakery that we’ve been to Hoboken for hundreds of years—we want to be that same bakery to Morristown.”
In addition to the party room, the new location also boasts a small seating area and generous floor space that sets it favorably apart from the cramped original storefront that attracts eager autograph seekers. But will stopping by the Morristown location give fans a chance to see Buddy or any of la famiglia in action behind the counter?
“I’ll probably be in here more often because it’s closer to my house,” Valastro laughs. “But, oh yeah, the family—everybody’s always around. This location’s going to be the easiest because we’re right around the area. We’re all Morris County residents.”
If you’re new to Carlo’s, you may not realize that the business is rooted in old-school Italian bakery standards. While the reality show focuses on the elaborate and sometimes mind-bending special order cakes resplendent with fondant and artful modeling chocolate creations, the bake shops offer glass cases filled with butter cookies, cannoli, Napoleons, sfogliatelle, crumb cake, pecan wedges, pignoli, biscotti, tiramisu, cheesecake, éclairs, cream puffs, and more. Whew! Asked what a visitor to Carlo’s should be sure not to miss, the Cake Boss replies before the question is even complete: “The lobster tail, hands down. The best!”
Similar to sfogliatelle, lobster tail is layered, flaky pastry shaped like a shell or cone. “The secret about the Lobster Tail,” Valastro says, “is that it was actually invented in America, not in Italy where the sfogliatelle was invented.” Though it is not unique to Carlo’s, Buddy has put his own special spin on the Lobster Tail, adding Bailey’s Irish Cream to its custard and whipped cream filling. “Just a touch of it,” he explains. “It’s not like you’re gonna get drunk from it – it’s just a splash. You’ve never eaten anything like it!”
Having sampled the Lobster Tail (and the cannoli, and the cream puff, and the mousse puff … hey, I’m just doing my job here!!), I can tell you Buddy’s not steering you wrong. Sink your teeth into the crispy-crunchy shell of a Lobster Tail, taste the sweet smooth cream inside, and you’ll instantly find your inner Italian emerging, no matter what nationality you are. You’ll have no choice but to smile and say fuggedaboudit if someone tries to reach for a bite.
But whichever treat becomes your favorite, what’s really sweet about Carlo’s Morristown shop is not having to wait in a long line to get another one as soon as you finish off the first.
In case you missed it on Facebook, Valastro gave Jersey Bites readers their very own shout-out. Watch it here!
Carlo’s Bakery Morristown
40 Market Street
Mon/Tues/Wed: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Thursday: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday/Saturday: 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Additional locations in Hoboken, Red Bank, Ridgewood, Westfield, Times Square/NYC.
Deanna Quinones is the Jersey Bites Regional Editor for Morris County. A freelance writer, blogger, and unrepentant chocolate addict, Deanna spent 20 years in the San Francisco Bay Area where life was good and the burritos even better. She recently returned to the Garden State and now resides in Morristown, where she and her Texas-born/Jersey-raised/California-found husband are raising two wild and wonderful kids. An experienced book marketer, award-winning greeting card writer, and entertainment writing dabbler, Deanna can be reached at [email protected] (photo credit Pete Genovese/The Star-Ledger)