If I’m honest, Pasticceria Caruso, is the type of business I’d usually walk right by. Set in a kiosk in the middle of Stockland Wetherill Park, it is surrounded by big chains, like Bakers Delight and Coles, making it all too easy to assume it’s something akin to Michel's Patisserie. Pasticceria Caruso is actually quite a lot more than than that. It’s a small business owned by Giuseppe "Pino" Caruso, and is touted as having the best Italian cakes in the West.
Pulling up at one of their brown bistro-style chairs, I can see they’ve tried to create intimacy with counters running on two sides of the kiosk. Overhead green trellises, and fake green plants in pails also try to soften the effect of dining in a shopping centre carousel. Over a smooth, well-made Vittoria Coffee Latte ($3.50) I notice that every table in this café is full.
On the outside edge of the business, their pastry counter does a roaring trade, offering up everything from full cakes, tarts and pies, to single serve pastries. Whole cakes literally walk out the door - and are clearly a cornerstone of the business.
We start our meal with Grilled Swordfish ($18) – their daily fish special. The golden, pan-fried Swordfish steak is served up with garlic potatoes and a flavoursome cherry tomato, olive and caper salsa. It’s fresh and light, while still being tasty and satisfying; and all the produce on the plate is top notch, particularly the bright red cherry tomatoes.
From the extensive café menu, which includes a good range of all-day breakfast options, we opt for the Calabrese Steak Sandwich ($16.90). It’s a generously proportioned dish that I’m actually glad to be sharing rather than tackling on my own. Inside the panino, you’ll find a tender Scotch fillet layered with rocket, beetroot and tomato, then topped with a slice of tasty cheese, a generous amount of grilled onions and barbeque sauce. It’s a good-tasting steak sanga.
All their cakes are made in their own offsite bakery. Your must-try is their wonderful Mini Cannoli ($1.75/each). There’s a saltiness to their ricotta filling that saves them the too-sweet trap, making them my easy favourite. It’s unsurprising that their most famous made-to-order cake – the Cannoli Bazooka – is stuffed full of these awesome mini cannoli.
If you’re unfamiliar with continental pastries, they’re actually more interesting in flavour than they look. Take the Pesche ($4.50), which looks innocuous and doughnut-like, but actually has a lot more going on. With a bread-crumb like exterior, it’s so named for its resemblance to a fuzzy peach. The bread sponge interior has a creamy centre flavoured with lemon rind and bright yellow Liquore Strega. With chocolate balanced by rum, dates and walnuts, even my non-chocolate eating dining companion enjoyed the Napoli Biscuit ($4.50). The intense, brown, chewy centre eats much more like fruitcake.
Now if you do like things quite sweet, the Italian custard in their Millefoglie ($4.50) should appeal. The name millefoglie, which is similar to its French name, mille-feuille, is Italian for ‘a thousand layers’. Savoury puff pastry layers stop the sweet vanilla custard from being too cloying. It's enough to convince even savoury-focused me that their large cakes would be well worth pre-ordering. Now, to come up with an occasion...
Kiosk 7, Stockland Mall
Polding Street, Wetherill Park
Ph: (02) 9604 1703