No doubt, a slice of warm bread slathered with butter on Thanksgiving Day is gilding the lily. But isn't that what the day is all about? Here are a few places in the area to pick up something special for the Thanksgiving table, but you might call early in the week to see if you need to place a special order.
Laura Reiley, Times food critic
Café de Paris Bakery
2300 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach; (727) 593-0277
8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, closing at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving
Xavier De Marchi has owned the bakery for the past 10 years, but he expanded and added a cafe last year with crepes and sandwiches. Breads are textbook, offered in 10-grain, wheat, rye and a classic baguette ($2.30), but the prettiest bread is the Marguerite ($2.95 small, $3.90 for large, which is nine rolls). The French word for daisy, it's a wheel of conjoined crusty rolls. As De Marchi says, "It's nice for when you have guests, because it's a table decoration and also a bread." Ordinarily French pastries are the main draw, but he adds classic American pies for the holidays (pumpkin, pecan, cherry).
Mazzaro's Italian Market
2909 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg; (727) 321-2400
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, until 2 p.m. Saturday; closed on Thanksgiving
Mazzaro's always makes a broad array of breads, but adds different dinner rolls for the holidays. In slightly smaller sizes (you don't want to fill up on bread, after all), there's a standard white Italian dinner roll, a crustier roll like a ciabatta with a fluffy interior, and a pumpernickel roll. They will stock their regular Italian bread, both seeded and unseeded, as well as a Kalamata olive loaf, an Alpine or farmer's rye, and baguettes. Mazzaro's also adds to its lineup of sweet breads during the holiday season with a pumpkin bread, cranberry orange, zucchini walnut and corn bread loaf.
2602 S MacDill Ave., Tampa; (813) 902-1979
7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, Saturday until 5 p.m., Sunday until 2 p.m.; closed on Thanksgiving
Mike and Susan Kalupa had a shop on Neptune for 25 years, before moving to S MacDill nine years ago. Mike says Thanksgiving "is a roll day," and so they do dinner rolls. There are old-fashioned ones called butter-flake rolls with lots of butter, baked in small muffin pans so you can pull them apart. Mike says they reheat beautifully. There's also a Southern style, sweeter roll, as well as traditional pumpernickel and wheat breads. Rolls go for $3.50 to $4.50 for a dozen. For dessert, this year is all about the pumpkin praline pound cake (it's on the marquee out front right now), one of the shop's most popular items. In addition, Kalupa's does pumpkin cheesecake and pies, and they still make a mince pie, somewhat of a rarity these days.
906 W Robertson St., Brandon; (813) 689-0320
7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, until 5:30 p.m. Saturday; closed on Thanksgiving
For almost five years, Susan and Jose Moreno have been generalists, a rare thing in this time of cupcake shops and macaron stores. They do it all, from napoleons and eclairs to iced cookies and loaves of bread. They make traditional Cuban breads with the palmetto leaves all year long as well as a mini Cuban roll (a 4-inch size) that Susan says people tend to order for Thanksgiving. The big seller for Thanksgiving is the Portuguese dinner rolls: white, sweet and soft, all the better to mop up gravy. On the sweet side, you'll find seasonal items like pumpkin whoopie pies and pumpkin gooey butter cake.
3225 S MacDill Ave., Tampa; (813) 902-8828
8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, closed on Thanksgiving
Bread fans won't be surprised to find this one on the list. This South Tampa restaurant/bakery has long been a go-to place for great sourdough (offered in baguette, long baguette and pan loaf), a tangy light rye with caraway seeds, a seeded seven-grain bread, focaccia with rosemary or tomato and cheese, Venetian olive bread, rustic Italian loaves (big holes, chewy exterior), breadsticks golden with olive oil and dotted with rosemary — I could go on. They take special orders for Thanksgiving. Place orders by Monday for the seasonal cranberry, pumpkin corn bread and cinnamon bread (all $6). And grab an intense espresso cookie while you're there, just for your ride home.