Biscotti Reginella – Giuggiulena- Sesame Cookies

There was a bakery in my Brooklyn neighborhood  called Termini’s Bakery. The store was at 7615 New Utrecht Avenue. Terminis was baking delicious bread, cookies and Italian Terminispecialties decades before I was born. My grandfather used to get his bread from Terminis all the time. There was a woman there that was his contemporary. Sorry to say I didn’t know her name (other than Mrs. Termini). But on a few occasions when I went to pick up bread for my grandfather she knew I was the “butcher’s grandson” and treated me like royalty. Her daughter, which was about my mother’s age, also knew me. They would give me the bread and rolls my grandfather always got and throw in a Taralli Biscotti, which was a plain vanilla cookie ring, or a Regina Biscotti, which was a cookie rolled in sesame seeds. Once in a while I’d get a Lemon Iced Taralli, which was a cookie knot with lemon flavored icing. Half way home the cookies were gone and I would start to eye the tip of the loaf of Italian Bread. I think my grandparents almost expected a piece of the Italian bread to be missing when I brought it home.

Terminis was located under the El (short for elevated railway), convenient for commuters to pick up bread on their way home.  My father would get off the train after work at night and stop at Terminis to pick up the Italian bread for supper. The local bakeries would increase production during the evening commute because they knew people would be picking up fresh Italian bread for dinner.

Termini made the most delicious Italian bread I have ever eaten. It had a unique taste to it, like no other Italian bread I have ever had. I have not found anything like it since they closed. Their cookies were also unique. They made traditional Sicilian cookies but their cookies had a taste all their own. It’s really a shame  when a bakery this good closes and their recipes are lost forever. If there are any living relatives of this family that might have their original recipes I would  love to know about it.

On Saturday the bakery would make their sausage rolls and Sicilian Pizza. When they ran out, that was it. So you had to get there early so you were not disappointed. Their sausage rolls were simple and delicious. It was noting more than a cooked Italian sausage link wrapped in their delicious bread dough and baked till golden brown. No cheese, no peppers, just the great taste of an Italian sausage. Some things should just be left alone.

Like many other things we remember eating as a kid, these sausage rolls were a treat. My mother would on occasion bring some home from her Saturday shopping run. When I was old enough to cross the street I would go there on my own. When I had an extra 50 cents I’d run to Terminis for a sausage roll and a slice of Sicilian. Both were so good you didn’t even need to heat them up. I would eat them cold right out of their display case. They never made it home.

Biscotti Reginella is a very popular and traditional cookie in Sicily. The Sicilian immigrants that came to America thankfully brought this cookie with them.   It’s a simple cookie coated in sesame seeds and baked to a golden brown. They go great with a cup of espresso or a cafe latte, even a glass of Marsala. One of the simple pleasures of life. That’s what good Italian food is. Simple and delicious.

Biscotti Reginella

Biscotti Reginella

  • 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 11 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) **
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 pound of sesame seeds (One 16 oz Bob’s Red Mill – Sesame Seeds White)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract* 
  • 3/4 cup of whole milk

*Flavorings vary from town to town. You can substitute the zest of 1 lemon or 1/4 tsp of saffron dissolved in the milk.

**If you want a crisper cookie you can substitute lard for the butter. I think the butter makes the cookies taste better.

Yields 24 cookies.

If you have a stand mixer (KitchenAid PRO 500 Series 5-Quart Mixers)  use the flat paddle to mix this up. You can also mix this up with your hands, but that will take a little longer. Combine in a large bowl the flour, sugar, and baking powder.

Biscotti Reginella

Cut in the butter until it’s incorporated into the flour mixture. Beat the milk, eggs and salt together. Add the liquid to the flour and mix until the dough comes together. Do not over mix.


The dough should be soft  but hold together. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for two hours.

Making sesame cookies

Cut the dough into four pieces. On a lightly floured board roll each piece into a log about the thickness of your thumb and 18 inches long. Cut the log into 3 inch pieces. You should get 6 pieces per log.  Brush each piece with milk and roll in the sesame seeds to coat.


Place each cookie on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake in a pre-heated 425 degree over for 10 minuets, then reduce the heat to 300 and bake another 10-15 minuets, or until golden brown. Rotate the cookie sheet half way through so they brown evenly.

Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minuets before placing them on a rack to finish cooling. Once completely cooled you can store these cookies in an air tight container for at least two weeks. They freeze well for future guests.

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About Peter Bocchieri

Peter was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and is a second generation Italian-American. He has a degree in Journalism from Long Island University and is an avid photographer, gardener and pet owner. Now that Peter is retired, he is relaxing at his home in North East Pennsylvania and cooking for his sons, Michael and Joseph, family and friends. Peter's passion for food was inspired by his Mother's and Grandmother's cooking, but at the age of 10 Peter felt he could do it better himself, so he did.
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20 Responses to Biscotti Reginella – Giuggiulena- Sesame Cookies

  1. rosemary says:

    Love all your recipes. Keep them coming with your stories of NY. This is my favorite food site.

  2. Pat says:

    Loved Termini lived a block away so we always got bread there. Their friselle was great too! I miss the salumeria that was right next to Termini too!

    • Pat, wasn’t there a salumeria across the street next to Bon Bon’s? I always remember walking past it smelling the pungent aroma of provolone cheese.

    • Michele G. says:

      My name is Michele. Termini Bakery was established by my Great Grandparents and then was operated by my Grandfather, Nick for many years before closing in 1986. It was very enjoyable to read your posting about our family bakery.

      • Michele, Termini Bakery was my favorite bakery. I have wonderful memories of many of their delicious breads, cookies, and pizza. I’m sorry all that great food is lost. I would love to duplicate it for myself. I found, if you can’t find the foods you loved you have to learn to make it yourself. If there anyone in your family that still have their recipes?

  3. Pat says:

    Peter, on the other side of New Utrecht? I only went to the one next to Termini’s.

  4. Barbara DeRivo says:

    I made the Super Bowl Sicilian Pizza for our party. last night . It was a big hit.

  5. Vincent J. Guarrasi says:

    I thought you were a wordsmith of some sort; your redaction is impeccable! And we share a common obsession––Italian recipes.

    What part of Sicily are your people from? I would guess somewhere near the middle of the northern coast? (just a guess). Mine are from Favignana (Trapani).

    • Vincent, I never considered myself a wordsmith. I write from the heart. My family is from the Province of Catania. My father’s side is from Ragusa and my mother’s side is from Vizzini. Most of my family recipes are from that region. Hope you enjoy them.

  6. Carol Hasting says:

    Hi, my sister was trying to find information about my grandparents bakery and when she put in the name and address this came up. We are the grandchildren of the woman you were talking about. My father was the baker with my grandfather Joe. He took over when my grandfather passed away. We all worked there at one time or another. This story brought tears to our eyes. Thank you for remembering our store. We probably know you from the neighborhood.
    Carol Hasting

    • Carol,
      I’m glad you found the story. We have a connection. It seems both our grandparents had a business in town, yours a baker and mine a butcher. My grandfather Pietro Verga had a butcher shop on 15th Ave between 77 and 76 Street. He used to go to your bakery for bread and such. I remember as a kid loving the cookies, and bread which was unique to your bakery. It just had that special taste to it that no one else had. I’m so sorry that the recipe for all that was lost. I would love to duplicate those cookies. Especially the plain vanilla ones! If you know of a recipe book that exist and would like to carry on their legacy I would love to help. Let me know what you think. Stay in touch.

  7. Richard Termini says:

    I am the Grandson of Joe Termini the founder of Termini Bakery. Thank you very much for your article. There was a time I lived above that Bakery a long long time ago. I can still hear my cousin Frankie’s voice calling me down to play on the flour sacks with that amazing aroma of Grandpa Joe Termini’s fantastic food. When Grandpa Joe died my father owned the business and the building and when he died my mother sold it to his sisters husband in 1983. And it closed shortly after that. Such stories,,,, I could tell you stories,

    Thank you once again for the kind words. My father and his father would be proud.
    Richard Termini

  8. Bill Cimino says:

    Having left a message on Facebook today about my early years living on the corner of 17th Ave and 70th Street and my buddy Louie who lived on the other corner across from my grandparent’s 2 family house. Here I am at age 67 living in Naples, FL longing for the simple treasures we had available to us in “the old neighborhood”. Besides the bread store and pastry shop pizza, lemon ices, amazing pastry and bread I would kill for, there were so many odd and wonderful memories of my life before moving to “the country” new Mill Basin. My family was also from Sicily: the Bono and Liotta fishmongers from Sciacca and my father’s Cimino and Cuccinotta’s from Messina. Besides the candy store next to the bakery and pastry shops, I remember that across from the park there was a store on 70th with a an open window that Louie and I would go for a small individual round pizza. I guess they used the oven range tool that I still use to make grilled cheese sandwiches. I also remember my mom taking me to a store on NUA where she would trade the box tops from Ronzoni pasta for kitchen tools, toys and various items. I attended Our Lady of Guadalupe for grades 1 – 3 before moving to Flatbush Gardens and Whitman Drive in 1958. Wishing you pleasant memories!
    Bill C

  9. John Audi says:

    I am baking these as I wrote…. I grew up in a Sicilian community north of Boston and these cookies were always served at Christmas. Thank you for the recipe. J

  10. Product lounge says:

    There is a famous Italian bakery in Philadelphia name Termini’s on Christian street. It been there since 1921, when Giuseppe left Enna, Sicily to reunite with his brother Gastono. I think they are all relatives. You can order on line . If you ever get to Philadelphia stop in. You can also read the history by googling Termini Bakery Philadelphia .

  11. Kathleen Gucciardi says:

    The Termini’s were landlords of my parents and I when we lived on 17th Ave, bet. 80th and 81st streets. Loved the lard bread, along with the regular bread. I remember the chocolate drop cookies that had some clove(?) flavor and the vanilla drops with the lemon flavor. We always stocked up whenever we went to visit relatives in Long Island, but ended up eating one loaf of bread on the way.

    • Kathleen, I remember those cookies. Especially the vanilla ring cookies, my favorite! The bread had a special taste to it that I never found duplicated. You knew it was bread from Termini’s.

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