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Famed for horn bread, cafe hears final trumpet

Peter Nionakis, holding a basket of Italian horn bread last year, has closed his 3A Café and Bakery in north Plymouth. Peter Nionakis, holding a basket of Italian horn bread last year, has closed his 3A Café and Bakery in north Plymouth. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff/File)
May 3, 2009
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It appears to be the end of an era. The 3A Café in north Plymouth, believed to be the last local place still baking Italian horn bread from an old family recipe, shut its doors this month.

The bread was so popular that customers came from out of state to purchase it, according to 3A Café owner Peter Nionakis. Recipes for the horn bread were closely guarded family secrets in north Plymouth for generations.

The first to introduce horn bread to this side of the Atlantic, at least according to Plymouth Italians, was a northern Italian immigrant named Etelredo Pedrini, who opened a bakery on Standish Avenue around 1915. Several bakeries produced horn bread in the following decades, but Pedrini's was the recipe that had been passed along to 3A Café baker Jackie Jardim by a member of the Pedrini family about four years ago.

The peculiar-looking bread, with horns jutting from its four corners, calls to mind some prehistoric crustacean, and its crusty exterior is similarly hard. As one north Plymouth Italian recently put it, "you could pound in a nail with it." Inside the hard shell was soft, flavorful bread.

The 3A Café and Bakery sold the bread at its location, as well as at Piantedosi's Butcher Shop, Perry's Market, and Clyde's Deli, all in north Plymouth. The future of the 3A as well as horn bread is unknown, according to frequent patron and lifelong resident of north Plymouth, Charlie Vandini. "I was in shock to see it closed," Vandini said. "I don't know what's going to happen."

Nionakis, in a recorded message left on the cafe's phone, said, "Regrettably, we had to close, and thank you for your patronage."

Christine Legere