Prior to opening The Italian Bakery, Frank Chiaravelotti worked for his sister and brother-in-law, Jennie and Sam Bennett, at Sam’s Italian Sandwich Shop. During this time the sandwich business was booming and Sam was purchasing bread rolls from a Portland bakery. At the age of 20, Frank attended The Restaurant Institute of Connecticut in New Haven, now known as The Culinary Institute of America, in NY. He learned many culinary techniques including bread making. Frank eventually encouraged Sam to start his own bakery. Frank ran the highly successful bakery for roughly ten years.
In 1960 Frank decided to venture out on his own with his wife, Philamena, and open The Italian Bakery. Initially the bakery was a wholesale producer of Italian sandwich rolls, bread, and pizza crust with customers throughout Maine. A few years later the retail end was opened, offering pastries, doughnuts and bread products. Although Frank and Philamena are both 100% Italian, the predominantly Franco-American Community greatly influenced what was made and sold in the bakery. Saturday baked bean specials, salmon pies, and meat pies (toutiere) were, and still are, local favorites. Frank sought input from friends and customers and many have claimed to be the “One“ who gave Frank the recipe for one thing or another.
All seven Chiaravelotti children have worked in the bakery over the years with a third generation now learning the ropes. As the family grew so did the menu. Pizzas and Italians were added in the ‘70s along with subs and calzones (Pizza Hut wouldn’t have calzones for about 10 more years). Most customers had no clue what a cannoli was. Now they are one of the most popular desserts along with tiramisu and raspberry bismarcks. New specialty pastries are being added all the time. But, happily, some things don’t change. The doughnuts are still hand cut and the Italian bread and rolls are still made from scratch with no preservatives or chemicals added.
With the addition of “bakery” departments in the supermarket chains, many of the local bakeries have closed. But thanks to loyal customers and the dedication and hard work of the Chiaravelotti Family and staff all these years, The Italian Bakery continues to thrive in these tough economic times. New customers are being seen almost daily along with the “regulars”. Children who once came in with their parents are now coming in with children of their own. The public is again realizing the value of a small local business and appreciates the commitment that goes into it.