Often when I'm in the Arthur Avenue neighborhood of the Bronx, I unexpectedly cross the sun-baked intersection of Hughes Avenue and 186th—which, though near the main drags of 187th and Arthur Avenue, is actually kind of off the beaten track and nearly free of traffic. I'm then confronted by Addeo & Songs Italian Bakery, which stands quite along on its corner, unencumbered by other businesses.
The sight always brings a smile to my face. This, I think, is what a bakery should look like. Addeo is so perfect in its simplicity and old world charm, that one might think it was built from scratch by a movie crew to represent a classic New York neighborhood bakery. It's not flashy. There's nothing about it, inside or out, that doesn't serve a purpose: no slick awning, no neon (bakeries are day businesses), no corny framed photos of idealized bread on the walls inside, no products for sale that are not freshly made baked goods.
The only bit of ballyhoo about the place is a sign hanging in the window advertising "Addeo's Original Pane di Casa." It's an Edward Hopper bakery. The shelves in the window are for displaying bread; they fill with loaves in the morning, they are empty at closing time. The place sells bread. Not iced coffee.
These days, mercantile purity is a rare and beautiful thing.