Leonelli is defined by a focus on the craft of traditional Italian baking methods. Inspired by iconic shops such as Roscioli in Rome—a family-owned bakery, café, grocer, and restaurant dating back to 1824—the team works the “old way,” using techniques often sacrificed in favor of time or ease of production. Flour for the focaccia dough is milled in-house; cannoli are filled to order; quality is never compromised.
In Italy focaccia is often enjoyed as a quick daytime meal, with many “focaccerias” that specialize in serving the thick squares of bread with a variety of toppings. Inspired by famous destinations such as Rome’s Pizzarium Bonci, Leonelli recreates this experience in the heart of New York, while introducing local seasonal ingredients from the neighboring Union Square Farmer’s Market.
Leonelli offers a dazzling array of Italian Pasticinni (pastries), Biscotti, Cookies, and Confezioni (candies). Says Chef Benno, “We wanted to bring back the traditional Italian pastry shop—and do it exceptionally well.” This means all confections are made in-house daily utilizing the best products available.
Inspired by classic Roman bakeries and focaccerias, the team wanted to find a name that paid tribute to The Eternal City. The word Leonelli refers to the significance of the lion in Roman history, where it has been depicted to symbolize strength, courage, leadership, and ‘the majesty of the Roman people.’ There are three lion head figures lining the façade of the historic Evelyn Hotel in which Leonelli is located, which brought the idea for the name full circle.