Viso's cakes, cannolis and cookies have been filling bellies since the 1920s and now the family's fourth generation will soon open its newest location in Media Borough.
Viso's Authentic Italian Desserts is located 23 S. Jackson Street, at the former Four Paws Shop, near Koffee Korner. The dessert shop is currently open for business but still putting a few finishing touches on the place before the official Nov. 10 grand opening.
Co-owner Donna Viso says the grand opening will include a ribbon cutting, live music and a $1 cannoli special.
Donna Viso's great-grandfather opened his first shop in South Philadelphia soon after arriving here from Italy in the 1920s. Then in the '70s Viso's father, Anthony, opened another South Philadelphia location and the family lived in an apartment above the bakery. Anthony Viso sold that bakery in 1985 but still worked there until his retirement in 2006.
But Anthony Viso couldn't stay out of the kitchen for too long. The Viso's had been living in the suburbs for many years by that time and Anthony Viso decided to open his first suburban bakery on Pennell Road in Aston in 2008.
"He wanted to teach his trade and the art of baking to his kids," Donna Viso, Anthony's daughter, explains. "You could have a recipe but its most important to learn how to create the item. The secret is how the recipe is crafted and made and mixed."
Now, Donna, along with her father and two brothers, Rob and Joe, will open their second suburban bakery in Media.
"I've always known I wanted to have our business here in Media," she says. "I love the hometown feel and it's great with all the other businesses here. The town really seems excited for us to be here and we're really excited to be here."
Donna Viso focuses on the business end of the dessert shop while her brothers do most of the baking and her father of course still has his hand in things too.
All of Viso's products will continue to be baked at the Aston location and Donna transports her many bakery boxes full of delicious treats to the Media location each morning.
Donna, who has a degree in nutrition, never imagined she would go into the family business but she loved it so much she couldn't stay away and now uses her degree to keep the baked goods as healthy as possible.
She says she keeps an eye on calorie count and all the products are made from scratch with no preservatives or high fructose corn syrup.
"Unlike chain stores our products are all made from scratch and with the finest ingredients," Viso says. "We take pride in the quality of our ingredients."
The ricotta cheese used in the cannoli is even organic.
The Specialty Shop
In July, Viso says, the family team decided to create a niche market for themselves and move away from being a full service bakery.
"It's hard to compete with the super stores so we wanted to focus on the items we do best," Viso says.
So Viso's is technically not a bakery, it's a dessert specialty shop.
"Sometimes it's a hard concept for our customers to grasp especially since we're closed on Sundays, bakeries are never closed on Sundays," she says.
Viso's does not have early morning hours and will be closed on Sundays (but throughout December they will be open on Sundays) in order to spend time with their own family.
"We decided to regain some lost family traditions and our loyal customers are very understanding of our decision to be closed on Sundays," Viso says.
The Customers and Family
Viso's has a great customer following and their customers are the shop's greatest advocate, she says.
"When they come in and try things they say, 'it's just like my grandmother's,' and it brings them back to the past," Viso says. "Everything tastes as if it was made in your own kitchen. It's hard to find that quality today."
Along with thanking her customers, Viso says, the shop couldn't function without her entire family, immediate and extended, and all of the Viso employees who are also like family.
"We couldn't do this without everyone and I'm really thankful for that," she says.