When we first opened NEVERTHELESS, a West Village bakery rooted in my family’s rich traditions of Sardinian pastry and throat singing (cantu a tenóre), we had one simple goal: we wanted our food to tell a story. To bring the city baked goods brimming with the same love and passion we hold for the culinary traditions of our ancestors. We are proud to be the first bakery in New York City to graft lip tissue onto the throats of croissants and hear them scream.

Our pastries began moaning softly in February 2024. Holly, our maître d’, working overnight shifts in the walk-in transplanting soft tissue into the folds of sfogliatelle, discovered that a steady IV drip of stem cells and enriched agar-agar caused little spasms of movement. By early March, Holly’s sfogliatelle began crawling all over the dry storage shelves like tapeworms. A few of them even oozed right up the bathroom sink and stared at themselves in the mirror. Holly had embedded rodent eyes between each layer of crust so that they could see. Her attention to detail was impeccable. No matter how far they crawled or how long they stared, their insides remained moist, and their shells retained their flakiness. We knew we were close.

We bought a bunch of custom chore coats from Carhartt and received a grant from Raytheon’s “bakery development” division. Action Bronson posted about us on his Instagram story. We hosted a collaboration with Nobu. Holly suffered a breakdown in March and flew back to Moldova, but at NEVERTHELESS we are a family, and we pressed on. Our food would tell its story no matter what stuffy pretensions Pete Wells has about “God.” Before she tore out the last bits of her hair, I asked Holly to write down what the sfogliatelle had told her on the back of a bar napkin, but she just drew a bunch of spirals and told me to “fucks myself.” I crumpled up the napkin and shoved it in my pocket.

Markus, our current GM, joined NEVERTHELESS in April from a restaurant in Western Sahara. Markus is passionate about Sardinian pastry and labs located in special economic zones. During our first meeting, I candidly asked him what our little operation was missing, and he had the chutzpah to speak the truth. I could tell by how he clutched my shoulders when he spoke that he was a real go-getter. He looked me dead in the eyes and said we were missing passion, discipline, and “the limitless potential of the occult.” I fired the entire back-of-house team that day and hired partisans from Colombia whom Markus had fought alongside during a CIA-backed junta in Morocco. We started making mini-bagels that are meant to be dipped in cream cheese.

Morning Bun XLZZ-121 was the first pastry to tell what I consider a “story.” It sat on the floor of the prep kitchen in the center of a sigil drawn out of a mixture of veal blood and hyssop. In the corner, Markus read a book he borrowed from a museum in Eritrea. The bun had lips grafted from a pig and a beating mouse heart. Its center was a creamy blend of rhubarb compote and semifreddo. A food writer joining us from Eater tried to bash it over the head with a sheet pan, but Julio, who had fought with FARC in the ’90s, pinned his arms down. He kept his eyes clamped shut, but I didn’t care as long as he could hear the story.

The bun groaned and sputtered up bits of blood and rhubarb. The lights started flickering. I had a vision of myself holding my first James Beard award. I am sitting at a table drinking 1947 Château Cheval Blanc St. Emillion with Eric Ripert and Jacques Pépin. Then I hear Bun XLZZ-121 start to sing in a low dulcet tone like the drone that comes before a tornado, and I’m transported to a circle with my ancestors singing canntu a tenóre. Their faces are gaunt, and the song is slow and inevitable. We sing about a baby being born across the straits in Corsica. We sing about a bomb made out of hydrogen. We sing about a young man in a Carhartt chore coat and selvedge denim jeans whose food would tell a story.

NEVERTHELESS is open seven days a week. On Thursday afternoons, we host DJ sets. We have a few gluten-free options, but unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate those who can’t handle the screaming. I’ll be on a press tour of the Chinese Islands until July, but any marketing inquiries can be directed to markus@nevertheless.com. Like all businesses these days, our hours may be affected by boiling rain and famine bouts, but we’re working on some new pastries made from cicada flour and generous donations from the Bronx Zoo Relocation Project.

If you drop by our original location, you can even see the bar napkin Holly drew on. The one with the circles. I framed it and hung it up behind the host stand. I’m not sure why, but I feel like it’s a good way of remembering where we all came from and how it all started. Come in sometime and take a look. Maybe it will inspire you to tell your story.