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Ridge grocer finds the sweet path to success

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Robicelli’s Gourmet Market has found the perfect cure for the recession blues: cupcakes.

The year-old Third Avenue grocery was struggling month-to-month until married co-owners Matthew and Allison Robicelli started making their own baked goods.

Now, they can barely keep up with demand — and that’s in a neighborhood known, believe it or not, for its exemplary cupcakes, such as those crafted at the Little Cupcake Bakeshop further down Third Avenue and at the Ivy Bakery on 87th Street.

“I travelled two hours on the subway to try these cupcakes, and I will gladly travel two hours again to get another one,” one customer told Robin Robicelli the other day.

These aren’t just boring old chocolate, vanilla, or red velvet treats. The Robicellis have put their experience as gourmet chefs to use, crafting what have become known as Bay Ridge’s best — and only — “extreme” cupcakes. The snacks have earned their name for cramming various far-flung ingredients into a single dessert (see chart below).

Every week, the deli offers up a different selection, from Allison’s classic carrot cupcake to her husband’s most-adventurous creation, the Elvis, which comprises a banana cupcake, peanut butter frosting and candied bacon bits.

It’s all icing on the cake now, but it didn’t look good almost from the day Robicelli’s opened on Sept. 28, 2008. The next day, the stock market dropped 686 points. The Robicellis got back to work, maintaining a nice selection of prepared foods, gourmet groceries and cheeses, and organic deli meats, but the future did not look bright.

Robicelli suggested that they start baking pastries, which soon led to dispute over who could craft the best cupcakes.

They “battled” it out — and customers won. Nowadays, The Robicellis bake a batch in the morning, and all the cupcakes are gone in hours.

Robicelli’s [8511 Third Ave, between 85th and 86th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 748-6804]; Ivy Bakery [278 87th St., at Third Avenue, (718) 833-1626]; Little Cupcake Bakeshop [9102 Third Ave., at 91st Street, (718) 680-4465].

Updated 5:13 pm, July 9, 2018
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