Enriched spring flour, water, salt and yeast.
Those have been the ingredients for success for Perreca’s Bakery for 100 years.
“See the bread?” Bruce Martin said, holding up a piece.
He explained, as one would describe a famous painting or a favorite song, the taste of the bread, how its thick crust balances perfectly with the softness inside, creating a texture that’s unmatched.
“The crust is thicker than most slices of bread,” he said.
Martin was among hundreds Saturday night who shared that same deep affection for Perreca’s, which celebrated its 100th anniversary with a block party.
People poured in to Schenectady’s Little Italy neighborhood to enjoy plates of Italian food, from giant meatballs to sausage and peppers. The Refrigerators, a popular local band, played on a stage as smiling people listened, a beer or a plate of food in hand.
Perreca’s Bakery, at 33 N. Jay St., was founded by Salvatore Perreca and his wife, Carmella. Through the years, not much has changed. The bread is still fresh. And its taste still reels in folks from the city and the surrounding area.
Anna Hunt drives from Wynantskill, 45 minutes away, for that bread. At the block party, surrounded by people enjoying a cool summer night, Hunt sat on the curb with a plate of Italian food, and explained her love for the bread and its unique taste.
Hunt, who was born in Italy and grew up with Italian food, says she knows what good Italian food is supposed to taste like. Perreca’s bread meets her standard.
“That’s Italian bread right there,” she said.
Maria Perreca Papa, granddaughter of Salvatore and Carmella Perreca and owner of the bakery with her brother, Tony Papa, said the block party was a way of celebrating with the community.
“It’s really a birthday gift to our neighbors and the rest of the city,” she said.
She explained how special the relationship is between the bakery and its customers and how in this day and age, it’s amazing how many people still come in to buy bread.
“My parents used to buy the bread every week,” said Carol Ann McCarthy, who came with her daughter Bella, 8, and son Christian, 12, from Ballston Spa for the party.
When McCarthy was 4, her family moved from Schenectady to Clifton Park, but her parents continued to come to Schenectady for Perreca’s bread, she explained.
“I’m bringing my kids up on it,” she said as they sat on a curb and ate, as more and more people arrived, heading straight for the food.
Michael Marimpietri of Albany said he always gets Perecca’s bread when friends come to visit. He has even brought some to his father in North Carolina.
Leslie Hatfield and her wife, Ellen Schwartz, came from Clarksville with their two daughters, Sophie, 12, and Lauren, 8. They’d never been to Perreca’s before but decided to check out the block party.
They were glad they did.
“For a bakery to be in business for 100 years,” Hatfield said, “it says something about the quality.”