Paczki and politics: Downtowners started arriving at 7:30 for the marketing and public relations firm Truscott Rossman’s 21st annual Fat Tuesday party at Troppo. From left: Marie Tepovz, who interns for state Rep. Greg Markkanan, Tori Sachs of Williamston, and David Tepovz, who interns for state Rep. Thomas Albert. The Tepovzes are siblings.


TUESDAY, March 5 — It's all hands on deck at Roma Bakery for Fat Tuesday.


Though the activity at the dessert counter seems hectic, what is going on behind the scenes is even more of a spectacle. Seemingly thousands of Paczkis are made by hand with veteran baker and Roma Bakery co-owner Sostine Castriciano directing.


Co-owners Filomena “Mena” Castriciano said Sostine Castriciano started making paczkis this year during Valentine’s Day, but the bakery has had calls since mid-January asking when they would be ready.


But how did an Italian bakery come to be so proficient at the Polish paczki?


Roma Bakery started to have inquiries about the Polish dessert in the mid-'70s, Mena said.


“About seven years into the business, we saw paczkis. We weren’t Polish and never heard of this before," Mena said. "My customers every week said ‘where are the paczkis?’ Sostine had a friend in Detroit, they came back here to make them, and now we are the best in town.”


What sets Roma’s paczkis apart are the way they are fried. “We don’t use any lard at all. We don’t put them all the way into oil,” she said.


Instead of dunking the paczkis in the oil fryer, Sostine has them float gingerly on the top and flips each one by hand with what looks like two large chopsticks.


Sostine Castriciano prepares a batch of paczkis.


Roma Bakery paczki also doesn’t skimp on the filling. “We put a lot more than the one tablespoon worth of filling other places do,” she explained.


The paczki with cannoli filling is another Roma Bakery specialty, Mena said.


“One day I said let’s put the cannoli filling into the paczki and then people were ordering two dozen of them.”


Moving along in the operation, scores of workers are filling paczkis two at a time with filling and rolling them in powdered sugar coating. It is the last stop for the paczkis before being boxed for a preorder or taken to resupply the dessert counter stock.


“People love the quality of our paczki.”