Panettone, an airy sweet bread classically filled with candied fruit, is a Northern Italian Christmastime tradition. This year, lots of local bakeries knead homemade versions to give Washingtonians the freshest takes on the hyper-seasonal treat. The labor-intensive process usually requires three days; after baking, the breads hang upside down to ensure the airy interiors don’t collapse.
Often wrapped in pretty packaging for the holiday season, imported panettone can also be found at a bevy of area Italian markets. In D.C., that includes Radici in Eastern Market, A. Litteri in NoMa, and Il Canale in Georgetown. The mercado at CityCenter DC’s Centrolina sells large-scale rounds for takeout and delivery. In Virginia, customers can pick up a panettone at both Italian Store outposts or Osteria Da Nino in Arlington, and in Maryland, Filippo’s Italian Specialties in Wheaton and Vignola Gourmet in Rockville have them in stock. And Eater DC’s restaurant of the year L’Ardente uses panettone as the base for its bread pudding, which is served with custard and cinnamon chocolate sauce.
The following area eateries take the time to recreate the iconic European treat.
4434 Connecticut Avenue NW
The art of panettone is a longstanding tradition at this Van Ness standby. But this year, carbs king Mark Furstenberg changes things up by naturally fermenting the bread for the first time. The holiday specialty is filled with dark and white chocolate and bourbon-soaked cherries, and topped with a chocolate-hazelnut meringue.
3221 Mt Pleasant Street NW
The acclaimed Mount Pleasant bakery whips up two types of panettone: a plain and a chocolate-hazelnut variety. The classic version is flavored with candied citrus and citrus zest, vanilla bean, and rum soaked fruit. The chocolatey spin takes those components and adds in 70-percent chocolate shards, toasted hazelnuts, and a dulce hazelnut crust. In a break from tradition, head baker Mike Phillips combines two preferments in the bread.
391 Morse Street NE
Naturally-fermented panettone at this Union Market bakery is filled with 70-percent chocolate and Italian Amarena cherries, glazed with hazelnut, almond, cocoa, and pearl sugar. Last year, the holiday delicacy was only available via pre-order but the bakery made enough this year for walk-ins.
Firehook’s family recipe-inspired panettone is filled with raisins and candied orange. Its Dupont, Old Town, and Chantilly outposts all offer the seasonal specialty in addition to other holiday treats like yule logs and Christmas and Hanukkah-themed cookies.
1120 Maine Avenue SW
Swing by Officina’s first-level mercato to pick up two types of homemade panettone, in addition to imported selections sent straight from Italy. “Classico” contains dried fruit and raisins and “Cioccolato” folds in dark chocolate chips. Both come in individual or regular sizes.
The NYC-based bakery with two local outposts in Navy Yard and Arlington folds golden raisins, candied citrus, almonds, hazelnuts, and cocoa into the Christmastime treat, which is neatly wrapped in a custom-printed tea towel. The bakery ships its panettone nationwide, with all orders going out on Mondays.