Cookies and Community Gaetano’s Bakery Brings North End Quality to Holliston
Gaetano and Brea Rose show off the cookies at Gaetano’s Bakery.
by Jane Lebak
Nestled at the junction of 16 and 126 is Holliston’s answer to the best Italian pastries and cookies.
Gaetano’s Bakery highlights their fancy Italian pastry, cookies, and cakes, but this unassuming shop holds so much more. “We make everything here,” says Gaetano. “Cakes and cupcakes, cream puffs, cannoli. We’ve got pizzas and calzones if you want to stop by for lunch. A lot of people who want Italian food will go to Bertucci’s for dinner and come next door to us for dessert.”
Bakery assistant Amber Rose adds, “Plus, Gaetano makes the best cup of cappuccino in town.”
Gaetano (that’s his first name, by the way) moved to Holliston in 2017, and he’s been a part of the community ever since.
Gaetano has been professionally baking for over 40 years. He began as a young boy working with at his father at a bakery in the North Shore. “Summertimes, with no air conditioning, it used to be a thousand degrees in back.” He laughs when he remembers. “We’d spend the whole day hauling bread in and out of ovens, but I found something there that never let me go.”
For Gaetano, the joy of baking is not just in the cookies, but in the community. The bakery has a family atmosphere, with lots of laughter and regulars known by name. “We get to know our customers,” says Gaetano. “They tell us about their lives.”
“Gaetano talks to everyone as if he’s known them all his life,” says Amber. “You could be the pope, or you could be walking in the store the first time, and he talks to you the same.” Gaetano says that’s because he’s Sicilian. “It’s a comfortable atmosphere. We’re always laughing about something, joking around, just making everyone feel welcome.”
Customers tend to stop in the first time for coffee and a cookie, just to try it. “But then they start coming back for everything,” Gaetano says. “Birthday cakes, cookie trays for parties, wedding cakes—whenever they’re getting together with family or friends, they think of us first.”
Amber says, “My favorite customers are the ones who want a box of cookies and then go back and forth in front of the cases. ‘A few of these. Some of those. Oh, do you have these, too?’ They get so excited. For some customers, these cookies are nostalgic, and tasting them again brings them right back to their childhood.”
A sign over the display case says, “I’ll have one of everything.” It’s a gift made by a loyal customer.
The biggest sellers are the pistachio macaroons. Gaetano says, “Come Thanksgiving and Christmas, people stand in line out the door, waiting for cookies to come out of the oven. Customers will be walking outside with the box lids open and the hot cookies steaming in the cold.”
Amber adds, “One customer brings them to tailgate parties.” It turns out, he brought them once, and ever since, everyone demands he bring nothing else. “He came in asking for five pounds to take on a plane to Philadelphia. The host said, ‘You’re bringing those pistachio cookies, right?’ and he said, ‘I guess I am.’”
Another customer came in with an emergency request for a wedding cake. “Normally there’d be no way to do this,” says Amber. “We need at least a week’s advance notice. But because it was such a unique circumstance, Gaetano got it done in a few days. The community is that important to him.”
A glance at the online menu shows an overwhelming selection of cookies, pastries, and cakes that rotate through the bakery. While not every option is available every day, if a customer knows they’re coming in for one specific item, they can call ahead. “We’re flexible,” says Amber. “Moreover, if it’s not on the menu, just ask. Nine times out of ten, Gaetano can make it.”
One break with tradition is the list of allergy-friendly offerings. The menu offers gluten free bottomless cheesecakes, gluten free cannoli, gluten free cakes, and even vegan options for froyo. The famous pistachio macaroons? Also gluten free.
“It’s about making what people love, in the way they need it, when they need it.” says Gaetano. “People tell me what they want, and I’m here to bake it for them.”
Gaetano’s bakery is located at 412 Washington Street in Holliston, at the junction of routes 126 and 16, and you can visit online at www.guyscakes1.com.