Past the Venetian’s famed gondola rides, up and over a bridge and down a long hallway, my adventure with Carlo’s Bakery begins. I know I’m in the right spot when I see people pointing and snapping pictures of bakers adorning mini cheesecakes with a crumb mixture, filling cannolis with pastry cream, and assembling glazed fruit into tart shells. The army behind the window seems to be having a good time, laughing and enjoying their involvement in this zoo-like experience, working in a room that would make Willy Wonka sing a sweet tune.
“Are you kidding me? Look at that line!”
“Do you see how big those strawberries are!”
Exclamations erupt from the masses as I take a ticket and edge closer to five massive pastry display cases. I was expecting a strong aroma wafting from cupcakes, rugelach and biscotti—everything dressed in chocolate—but not so much.
Finally, my number comes up. I hear myself blurt out: “Where’s my white chocolate mousse and carrot cake slice going?” A woman beside me matter-of-factly explains they will return, only on smaller trays. My little loves end up nestled inside a white box, wrapped with red and white striped twine courtesy of a clacking machine stationed near the display of Cake Boss star Buddy Valastro’s books and T-shirts.
The merch is a wake-up call that while Carlo’s feels like a neighborhood bakery, this one is on the Strip. Indeed, Fat Tuesday cups and cameras strapped to chests indicate I’m not among my local Las Vegas kin, and maybe that’s a good thing, considering the way I polished off my treats.
Carlo’s Bakery Grand Canal Shoppes, 607-2356. Sunday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 8 a.m.-midnight.