Sprinkles Italian Bakery & Market just opened in Wilmington. The charming space serves up baked goods alongside house-made and locally-sourced Italian classics like fresh bread, tomato pie and pasta. It also offers grab-and-go lunches like sandwiches and sides. The heart of the business, though, is the family behind it—particularly the young women who started Sprinkles in 2020.
The Sprinkles Story
When Darien and Emma Donovan started selling baked goods out of their parents’ kitchen in 2020, the girls had no idea it would soon become their full-time job. Emma—just 16 at the time—was still in high school, and 19-year-old Darien was studying to become a teacher.
Making custom cakes and pastries gave the girls a steady source of income while they attended school. When they started creating holiday menus for pre-order, the business really started to take off.
“It was mostly Instagram and Facebook,” says Darien. Word of mouth and social media marketing turned their part-time operation into a full-time job by the first summer—and it didn’t stop there. By the time Darien graduated college, both she and Emma were ready to go all-in.
“I realized I liked baking more than I liked teaching,” explains Darien, who was both student-teaching and baking full-time during her last year of school. She graduated last May and has been dedicating her time to the bakery since then. Emma, now a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Delaware, attends classes while working part-time at the bakery with her sister.
“I’m a psychology major,” Emma says. “I’ll get my degree then probably work here full-time, too.”
While both of the Donovan sisters pursued their own educational endeavors, baking runs in their blood. Darien was voted “most likely to be on the Food Network” by her classmates her senior year of high school, and Emma still has the physical evidence of a 1st grade “What I Want to Be” project in which she proudly stated she wanted to be “Cake Boss.” While the bakery may not have been their long-term career plan, it was always within the realm of possibilities.
The part that often surprises first-time visitors, though, is the expansive selection of the Italian market portion of the business.
The Italian Market
“We may not look very Italian, but we were raised Italian with big Sunday dinners,” Darien explains.
This much is clear from the recipes that grace the pastry cases alongside the indulgent sweets. At first glance, you’ll find fresh Italian breads and sandwiches, tomato and mozzarella salad, homemade meatballs, tomato sauce and a tomato pie that patrons often praise for tasting like it’s right out of Philly.
The family aspect of Italian culture is also apparent as soon as you step inside Sprinkles Italian Bakery & Market. It’s mostly staffed by family and close friends, each contributing their own touch as a valuable part of the business as a whole.
“The meatballs, our mom makes every day,” Darien says.
“And our dad makes all the sides,” adds Emma, gesturing to the case filled with traditional Italian sides like roasted long hots, string beans and potatoes and broccoli rabe. Grandmothers from both sides of the family are also heavily involved, often baking in the back. Their younger brother, Michael, often helps between school, sports and extracurriculars.
A One-Stop Shop for Lunch, Dinner and Dessert
If you’re ready to stop in looking for the perfect sweet treat to grab and go, there are plenty of options. Some top sellers at the bakery are the chocolate-covered strawberry cake, the filled-to-order cannoli (available in both regular and miniature sizes), and the Tandy Cakes.
“The Tandy Cake is a vanilla sponge cake, and peanut butter is poured all over while it’s still warm, so it melts into it a little bit and then chocolate,” Emma explains. Darien maintains that it’s her favorite pastry that they make.
Another popular service the girls provide is grab-and-go lunch or ready-to-heat dinners. The Italian goods that aren’t made in-house are sourced locally. Scaramuzza’s pasta fills one cooler, along with quarts of Sprinkles’ homemade sauce. They often have a grab-and-go spaghetti or ravioli option, which consists of Scaramuzza’s pasta in their sauce. Also available is local olive oil and other artisanal Italian goods.
“During the week, our sandwiches go fast,” explains Emma. “On the weekends, a lot of people will come and get the grab-and-go dinners for Monday nights. Sundays are our biggest day for grab-and-go.”
“People will come in and get six rolls, enough meatballs for sandwiches and a side of broccoli rabe. Then they can get dessert here, too,” Darien adds.
Whether you’re looking for a quick lunch, a ready-to-heat dinner or something sweet and indulgent, the Donovan family has you covered, with these two young women at the helm. Sprinkles Italian Bakery & Market is open six days a week, with plenty of walk-in options. If you’re planning a birthday or any other celebration, the Donovan sisters can create a pastry spread that is sure to satisfy from custom cakes, cupcakes and cookies to novelty items like cannoli and cake pops.
Sprinkles Italian Bakery & Market
3100 Naamans Rd, Wilmington