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Published August 12th 2020
Sicilian sweets meet classic bakehouse favourites
The enticing waft of freshly baked bread has been a constant in Ashgrove Avenue, Brisbane since 1934 thanks to historic brick bakehouse which has been supplying loaves to the community for over 80 years.
Once known as Whiteoaks Bakery, Gerbino's is a local, family-run Italian Pasticceria and Bakery, which offers handmade food following traditional recipes and methods. It is also Brisbane's only Italian bakery and "aims to bring the authentic taste of Italy to Brisbane - a taste you can't get anywhere else". .
While it well frequented by locals, Gerbino's is well supported by the Italian community where calls of "ciao" and "bella" can often be heard amongst patrons and staff. A sleak, black maserati sports car was even parked at the front on the day of my visit bringing just a little more of Italy to Ashgrove.
Gerbino's is located on the border of Ashgrove and Newmarket in an area that was formerly called Three Mile Scrub Road.
At the height of the pandemic in Queensland, Gerbino's signage reminded us of its longevity (see above). This gave confidence to those who formed a long line outside at this time of uncertainty.
Today Gerbinos Patisseria and Bakery has retained the charm of the past, while also offering a modern, Italian flair.
How will I know it when I see it The facade of the suburban, brick bakehouse is much the same as it has been over its 80-year history. Walking off the street and up the duo of steps leads visitors to the front counter. From here, you can sometimes sneak a peek of the expansive kitchen through the swinging doors, where the pastry chefs create their works and emerge carrying trays of fresh bread and to re-stock the cold cabinets with cakes and cannoli. They are a real-life reflection of the image in the leadlight window beside the counter of a friendly baker in a white bakers' hat.
The bakery is split level with eat-in capacity on the lower level which features raw brick, exposed wooden beams on the ceiling and two large glass windows to let in the light. The combination of the wood, brick and glass brings warmth and cosiness to the space and is a nice place to rest and enjoy the shop's baking delights.
Bi-fold windows open from bench seating and oversee the curbside dining for those who want to watch the passing traffic of those entering and leaving Ashgrove Avenue. So what's on offer?
Italian Pastries and Baked Goods Gerbino's offers a selection of bread (including gluten-free options) and old school, bakery staples. What is a bakehouse without the Australian classic of chunky meat pies (in a range of flavours), tasty sausage rolls, chocolate coated and coconut sprinkled lamingtons, and vanilla and apple slices and jam and cream doughnuts?
I would stop by the bakery as a child (when it traded as Whiteoaks) after my weekly Saturday morning tennis lesson. The shop attendant at the time, Mrs Lemon, would wrap a jam doughnut into a white paper bag for me to have on the walk home. It seemed so special to enjoy this little delicacy.
While the world is going through so much upheaval, it's good to know that some things, like our favourite baked good, never change.
Companions to this traditional selection are the individual slices and whole family-sized quiches, pies, boxed tortellini, Sicilian arancini, lasagne and pizza bases to answer that much-asked question, "what's for dinner, mum?" Fresh sandwiches and salads are a good option for a quick lunchtime stop.
But once the essentials like bread and dinner are sorted, it's time to get serious with classic Italian celebration cakes (which can be ordered online). It's a tough challenge deciding between the luscious and indulgent Italian Torte, Bianco Nero, Cassata Sicilian, Crostata di Nutella, or Monte Bianco and more.
Prices range from $38 for an 8-inch cake serving 10 dessert slices through to $95 for a 14-inch cake serving 30-35 dessert slices. You will certainly bring a wow factor to the party with one of these.
For something bite-size, Gerbino's Poggio's (Italian biscotti) are one of their signature sweets in unique flavours, including Postachio Almonelo, Merangazelo, Ettiello and more. The decadent cannoli is highly sought after and even the greatest of will power makes them hard to ignore. The challenge is to stop at just one. Sweets can be enjoyed over a segafredo zanetti coffee ($3.70).
Photo courtesy Gerbino's website
In keeping with the Italian theme, jars of olives, boxed and wrapped biscuits (jam drops, Anzac biscuits and biscotti) are ready for last-minute gifts.
Overall, Gerbinos is a mixture of old fashioned simplicity alongside the sophisticated international flavour of its Italian cakes and biscuits. Within that mix, it is laid back and non-pretentious. For something special or something simple, Gerbino's has much to offer.
In case you are wondering. Did I leave with a jam doughnut for my journey home? Well, of course!
Gerbino's is open 7 days. Street parking is available on Ashgrove Avenue and neighbouring side streets. The 373 Council bus stops outside. This family-owned bakery is one of four stores. You can also visit a Gerbinos in Kelvin Grove, QUT Gardens Point and Toowong Village and bring the taste of Italy to your next bakery experience. Ashgrove is located 5 kms from the CBD.