Salvatore Alba, whose popular Bensonhurst bakery shop counted Donald Trump and Frank Sinatra as customers, died September 17 at the Sunrise Assisted Living at Sheepshead Bay. He was 87 years old.
The cause of death was cardiac arrest, his son Nicholas said.
Salvatore, known as Sal, was born in Little Italy, but grew up in Brooklyn. He attended Seth Low Junior High School and New Utrecht High School.
After high school, he joined his father Nicolo at the family business, Alba’s Pastry Shop, at 18th Avenue and 70th Street, a neighborhood staple since 1932.
“My father needed him in the pastry business,” his sister Blanche Migliaccio said.
At the shop, Sal grew to develop a passion for baking—something his customers could taste in each cannoli or sfogliatella.
“He took a lot of pride in it, his son said. “He was hard-working and dedicated.”
Sal was an innovator at the shop, starting a mail-order business, and was a forerunner in baking sugar-free pastries.
“He took great pride in his cooking, there’s no doubt about that,” said friend and neighbor Frank Giordano.
Customers would line up in the street for a chance at one of Sal’s pastries. On cold days, they were given a bit of espresso, for a bitter jolt of warmth.
To celebrate an anniversary of the store, Sal once cooked up a five-foot cannoli, which he stuffed with thousands of smaller cannolis, recalled former customer and friend Carmine Santa Maria. “People just dug in,” he recalled.
Aside from baking, Sal loved to play golf and tennis, sing, and paint. Instead of using a brush, Sal used a piping bag—typically used to decorate cakes—to get the details of a veiled woman just right, his sister said. “It was so intricate. It was beautiful,” she recalled.
After his wife Dorothy died last October, Sal recalled her with love. “We started out as friends,” he said at the time. The two met as teenagers in front of the stand where Sal’s father sold Italian ices. They were married 65 happy years.
Salvatore Alba is survived by sons Nicholas, Thomas and Robert; grandsons Michael, Jonathan, William, Nicholas and Thomas; sisters Blanche and Ann.
A wake was held at Andrew Torregrossa & Sons at 13th Avenue and 79th Street, and Funeral mass was held at St. Bernard’s Church in Bergen Beach. Salvatore Alba was buried on Sept. 20 at St. John’s Cemetery in Queens.