By Linda Bladholm
L’Arte Bianco Bakery is a family-run place in a Kendall strip mall with Peruvian specialties plus traditional French confections. The name means ”the art of white” in Italian, referring to flour, the main ingredient in the baked goods made on the premises daily.
The mixed menu makes sense when you know that master baker Rafael Bautista, a native of Lima, Peru, and his wife, Iranian-born Reyhaneh Moghaddam, took a class together in classic French baking after they met as university students in Los Angeles in the early 1990s.
As a graduate student in theology at Princeton, Bautista kept his hand in, making wedding and birthday cakes for the four bakeries his brother owned in New Jersey. The couple moved to Miami in 2004 and opened their own bakery last year.
The generic space is nothing to swoon over, but the baked goods, generosity and yapa are worth a visit. The more you drop by, the more yapa you get. (Giving regulars a treat is a South American courtesy.)
The breads, in wicker baskets behind the register, include French rounds, mini baguettes, croissants and whole wheat rolls. There’s also Peruvian carioca (egg bread sprinkled with sesame seeds), chancay (sweet egg rolls with anise seeds) and bizcoche (round anise breads filled with custard cream).
Usually there’s also nan-e barbari, Persian-style flat bread baked in long oval flaps from frozen dough that’s shipped from L.A.
Sandwiches can be had on French rolls with chicken, roast beef, tuna salad, ham, turkey or butifarra (marinated, steamed and sliced pork loin).
Other specials include white corn tamales steamed in banana leaves and stuffed with chicken or pork chicharron; soft, flaky empanadas filled with ground chicken or beef, and pan con asado (bread with spicy roasted beef).
There are jars of black olives from Peru, eaten with bread for breakfast, as well as ají amarillo and ají panca, hot chile pastes used in Peruvian cooking.
Peruvian-style layer cakes are sold in thick slices, frosted in whipped cream. The most popular are the tortas de chantilly — vanilla or chocolate cake layered with dulce de leche, fresh strawberries, peaches and whipped cream.
Pinono are sponge cakes rolled up like a jellyroll with whipped cream and strawberries or powdered lucuma (a butterscotch-flavored tropical fruit) mixed with whipped cream.
Crisp, buttery torta mil hojas (thousand-layer cake) is composed of thin pastry
sheets assembled like napoleons with dulce de leche or other fillings.
Baking is truly an art here, served with a warm smile.
Linda Bladholm’s latest book is Latin and Caribbean Grocery Stores Demystified.
12572 SW 88th St.; 305-279-4778; Mon.-Sat., 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m., until 6 p.m. Sun.; prices: bread rolls two for $1, cake slices $2.50, sandwiches $4, tamales $3.50.