The 3 contessas of Hillside Avenue

I gave a talk in Chicago last summer on the psychodynamics of team sports. 

My most vivid memory of Chicago was a stop in Molly’s Cupcakes in the center of town. It had lines out the door, swings to sit on instead of stools and cupcakes that were magical, glorious and a joy to eat. I went back every night.

But hey, who needs Molly’s when we have Cupcake Contessas at 78 Hillside Avenue right here in Williston Park. Just as good at half the price. 

The three contessas are Laura Andreacchi, Francine Azzariti and Rosie Oliva. Laura and Francine are in fact accountants and Rosie is a social worker. They all had that Italian urge to feed people and to do a start-up business. 

A few years ago they could see that cupcakes were a growing trend and using good accountant sense they jumped in with the help of their families and brother Phil Steghe.

They told me that gourmet cupcakes are popular because of the diversity of selection. When you buy a regular  cake for a party everyone is stuck with the same item but not so with cupcakes. Cupcakes can be served to individual taste. You can offer black forest, Boston crème, carrot cake, chunky monkey, classic vanilla or coconut cloud at the same table. 

They are seeing more success as time goes on and I can attest to this. This is the first time that I have interviewed three people who did not stop working as we talked. One was making cake pops, one was making specialty cupcakes for Heineken and one was mixing up some great looking whip cream. Madonna, Kathleen Rice, the Dolans and Village of Williston Park Mayor Paul Ehrbar have all sampled their work.  They service weddings, business meetings, sweet 16 parties and bar mitzvahs.

I asked them why settle in Williston Park and they told me “This is the town that stood still. It does not change. It is safe here, quiet here, we like it here.” Laura has lived here her whole life and so has Rosie. I asked them how they managed to hold down full time jobs and also run a thriving business.  “Easy” Laura said, “All you need is to have family support and enough energy to work eight days a week.”

While there I learned how labor intensive the gourmet cupcake business is. It is not just butter, sugar, eggs and flour. It is all the frills too. The toppings, the sprinkles, the fillings and candy on top.

The front of the shop has a charm to it with lovely ceramic cupcakes on display, all of which have been given to them by devoted customers. The ceramics look like they belong in a Beatrix Potter book along with Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny.  

So if you want to feel some small town charm combined with an Italian flair from the kitchen go do yourself a favor and visit the Cupcake Contessas right there next to Hildebrandt’s. Who knows maybe when you get there they will have those fun swings installed so you can swing while you eat a red velvet cupcake. 

Yummy, yummy. Watch out, here comes Peter Rabbit!

Tom Ferraro, Ph.D. is a psychologist who has lived and worked in Williston Park for the last 25 years. He can be reached for comment at [email protected]

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Dr Tom Ferraro

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