Best Specialty Bakeries
Let us eat cake (and krapfen and kathi and kulfi): an around-the-world taste tour of fabulous foreign, regional, and ethnic-flavored bake shops.
12 Great International Bakeries
More than just apple pie, fortune cookies and biscotti, Westchester desserts are as Latin American as churros, as Caribbean as bulla, as Indian as three-layer kathi and as Austrian as krapfen.
A worldwide taste tour of local bakeries
By Dina Cheney Photography by Iko
The county is rich in bakeries, establishments that you can count on for cookies, cakes, and hot cross buns. But where do you go if you have a yen for a yomogi pan? A craving for kulfi? There’s an entire United Nations of specialty bake shops in the county, churning out churros and whipping up plantain tarts for us to indulge in. One constant unites them all: the heavenly aroma of warm butter and sugar. What could be more universally tempting than that? Take an around-the-world tour (without leaving home) of our favorite specialty bakeries.
A Slice of Hispanic Heaven
Port Chester’s Panaderia Uruguaya Las Gemelas, which means, literally, “Uruguayan Bakery the Twins,” is a de facto Latin American community center. On a recent visit, two groups of men sipped espressos while discussing politics in Spanish. Spanish CNN blared from a giant TV screen and Uruguayan soccer jerseys and headbands graced the walls. Thankfully, an extensive selection of sweets, many featuring quince paste or dulce de leche (caramelized sweetened condensed milk), was also on display. Along with churros (cinnamon-sugar sprinkled fried-dough sticks), which are as popular in Latin America and Mexico as jelly doughnuts are in this country, customers can try savory empanadas and peaches-and-cream-filled meringue pastries that are flown in from Uruguay.
204 Westchester Ave., Port Chester (914) 937-4322
Walk into Port Chester’s La Flor De Jalisco Bakery, and you’ll feel as though you’ve entered a children’s birthday party. Upbeat Mexican music plays, colorful piñatas hang from the ceiling, and bright candies and decorated sheet cakes beckon from the glass cases. Although these candies and cakes easily bring smiles to children’s faces, the real draw here is the Mexican buns, which many loyal customers enjoy with hot chocolate for breakfast or after dinner. The pillowy buns, which are baked fresh every day and line several standing racks, are made with eggs, sugar, margarine, and yeast and come plain or with a chocolate- or vanilla-flavored sugar topping. Yet, to my taste, the moist, creamy tres leches cake filled with strawberry jam and crowned with white buttercream frosting, the soft, pillowy coconut bread topped with shredded coconut, and the thick, rich flan are most worth returning for.
La Flor De Jalisco Bakery, 217 Westchester Ave., Port Chester
Sublime Subcontinent Temptations
At the White Plains takeout establishment, Ambadi—from the sons of the owner of Bengal Tiger, the well-known and well-respected Indian restaurant, also in White Plains—you’ll feel as if you’re in a jewelry shop, albeit a curry-scented one. Behind a glass case sits a treasure trove of variously colored and shaped Indian sweets that resemble precious brooches. Made with milk, cheese, sugar, rosewater, nuts, and clarified butter, the confections are aromatic and hyper-sweet. Diamond-shaped three-layer kathi, with rosewater-kissed mango, pistachio, and cashew burfi (similar to fudge), is both beautiful and delicious. Less flamboyant, but equally flavorful, are the nearby mainstays of Indian desserts: rice pudding-like rasmalai (cottage-cheese cakes cooked in sugar syrup and thinned milk), gulab jamun (fried milk balls marinated in honey syrup), and kulfi (Indian ice cream).
Ambadi, 141 E. Post Rd., White Plains (914) 686-2014,
Das Ist Gut Goodies
Step into bustling Pâtisserie Salzburg in Rye, and you’ll feel as though you’ve flown to its namesake Austrian city. Gold cursive script adorns the windows, which are framed by gauzy curtains. Sconces hang from the dusty-rose walls, and fresh flowers top each delicate wrought iron-legged table. Under the lofty ceiling, framed menus adorn the walls and sculptural breads line the shelves, while glistening pastries and flaky croissants fill the glass cases, stealing the show. At this shop, owned by Austrian pastry chef Manfred Hirz, coffee is kaffee and breakfast might mean krapfen (powdered sugar-kissed brioches filled with apricot jam) or the shop’s trademark, addictive apple strudel—not bagels or doughnuts. Here, too, customers can nibble on soft, buttery linzer cookies, sacher torte, and schnecken (cinnamon raisin buns). Who knew that indulging could be so elegant?
Pâtisserie Salzburg, 77 Purchase St., Rye (914) 921-4458
Harrison’s CCG Pâtisserie, which opened about six years ago, is a family business: brothers Paul and Christopher Gargone co-own the shop and their father, Domenick, occasionally helps out, peeling and slicing the produce. While Paul manages the business, Christopher prepares rich, oozing, molten chocolate cakes, meringue-turreted lemon tarts, and the creamiest mascarpone cheesecake I’ve ever tasted. The cases also brim with linzer cookies, croissants, and Italian plum tarts, which the shop sells to retail customers, as well as to hotels, restaurants, and country clubs. It’s easy to understand why CCG is so busy: “Everything is fresh, homemade, and seasonal,” Christopher tells me proudly. “The only thing canned here is the Pam spray.”
CCG Pâtisserie, 247 Halstead Ave., Harrison (914) 777-3003
Forget Fortune Cookies
Except for a sign or two, you would never know that Kam Sen Foods, the largest Asian supermarket in Westchester County, sits right in the White Plains Mall. This 25,000-square-foot emporium contains a Chinese bakery, Kam Bakery, and it offers up a lot more than just fortune cookies. In the bakery’s glass cases, you’ll find red bean buns, egg tarts, coconut tarts, and barbecued pork buns (not a dessert, but a sweet treat nonetheless), as well as tapioca bubble tea, or black tea with milk, sugar, and black, firm tapioca pearls. One of the owners, Tsu-Chun Kuo, took me behind the scenes, where employees were in the process of encasing barbecued pork mixture into ivory dough to form the barbecued pork buns. As we walked by bags of almond flour and hanging pig carcasses, he joked, “You didn’t want to see that, right?” The delicious buns, pig carcasses, limited amount of English spoken, and bubble tea brought to mind Chinatown, albeit thankfully, one without the crowds.
Kam Sen Foods, 22 Barker Ave., inside the White Plains Mall next to the DMV (914) 428-4500
Beyond Bubbe’s Babka
Just one look at the babkas and challahs, and I was brought back to my Hebrew school days. White Plains Bake Shoppe, which opened in 1999, carries all of the kosher breads, rolls, black-and-white cookies, and cakes one needs to connect with one’s roots, if one is Jewish. But, the roster isn’t limited to the usual Eastern European fare: This bakery also makes its own croissants and decorated pastries, such as napoleons and fruit tarts.
“We changed the face of kosher bakeries,” declares co-owner Lee Kaufman (his partner is French pastry chef Antoine Vasse). “It used to be that you’d walk into kosher bakeries, and they’d have these huge sheets of marble cake and babka and would cut slices off. We have more upscale, elegant cakes.” All you have to do is read the fancy blue- and-white cursive writing on the window and taste the chocolate melt-aways, and you’ll know that this kosher bakery is a cut above.
White Plains Bake Shoppe, 466 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains
For a taste of Jamaica, head to Royal Caribbean Bakery in downtown Mount Vernon (the chain has several locations, including one in Georgia). Take in the “God is good” sign, purchase a Jamaican newspaper (the bakery offers four choices), and try bulla (a soft, moon-shaped cake with a hint of ginger flavor), plantain tart (a crispy pastry crescent stuffed with crushed plantains), and Jamaican meat patty (fried and filled with beef, chicken, vegetables, shrimp, and soybeans). If you’re tempted to sample more island fare, also consider the raisin-studded bread pudding or the royal rum cake, a black cake featuring wine-soaked crushed fruits, rum, and molasses. Since the bakery chain’s founders, Vincent and Jeanette HoSang, were born and raised in Jamaica and travel to the island frequently to add even more offerings, you’ll know that Royal Caribbean’s pastries are the real thing.
Royal Caribbean Bakery, 158 S. 4th Ave. and 620 S. Fulton Ave., Mount Vernon (914) 664-4446 and (914) 668-6868 respectively, www.royalcaribbeanbakery.com
Flavors of the Far East
Parisienne Bakery is one undercover Japanese bakery chain. At the Hartsdale location, the name and window display do nothing to divulge that Japanese sweets are offered. That’s because Parisienne sells primarily French and American breads and pastries, including croissants and cheesecake. But, if you look at the Japanese-style flower arrangement (known as ikebana) in the corner, and peek into the refrigerated case, you’ll notice the unexpected: pillowy steamed green tea and sweet potato buns filled with sugary red bean paste (yomogi pan), tofu bread, and even one small round bread whose name, gombo pan, means “ugly bread” in Korean (the bun’s surface looks pockmarked, yet the peanut-butter flavoring makes up for it).
Parisienne Bakery, 8 N. Central Ave., Hartsdale (914) 761-9600. You can also find the company’s desserts at Tanto, 839 White Plains Rd., Scarsdale (914) 725-9100, and Daido Market, 522 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains (914) 683-6735.
Oh So Delizioso
There’s no doubt that Scarsdale’s Teresa’s Gourmet Pastries & Italian Ices is an authentic Italian bakery; when I visited, two retired male regulars sipped espresso. When you visit, they’ll be there too: these men come to Teresa’s every afternoon for black coffee and a cannoli. You might consider doing likewise, especially once you taste the shop’s bestselling pastry, with its slightly crisp shell and sweet, creamy ricotta filling. Yet, Giulio Darmetta, who owns the bakery with his wife, Teresa, prepares more than cannoli. “We make virtually every kind of Italian cake and pastry,” he tells me. That means biscotti, toralli (golden Italian ring crackers), sfogliatelle, and anginette (lemon biscuits), as well as 50 flavors of Italian ice, including tiramisu, honeydew melon, and cookie dough.
Teresa’s Gourmet Pastries & Italian Ices, 812 White Plains Rd., Scarsdale (914) 472-3825, www.teresas.net
Way Beyond Yodels
Scarsdale’s Patisserie Lulu is the American bakery of your dreams. And I’m not the only one who thinks so: The Food Network named it one of the top five artisanal bakeries in the country. Perhaps that’s because co-owner and pastry chef Jay Muse takes what people these days consider kitschy, like Devil Dogs, and, he says, “ups them a notch by using organic Vermont butter, organic flour, and Scharffen Berger chocolate.” Not only are the bakery’s ingredients premium-quality and mostly organic, the resulting strictly kosher creations are wonderfully inventive. Sure, you can get your Brooklyn Blackout or Russian coffeecake here, but also more, um, unorthodox offerings. At Lulu’s, melt-in-your-mouth linzer cookies feature a strawberry rhubarb filling and massive Scharffen Berger chocolate cupcakes are capped with a thick, rich layer of ganache, instead of icing. Just as divine, the appropriately named, coconut and marshmallow frosting-topped Coconut Dream cake achieves its über-moist consistency and slightly tangy flavor from crème fraiche. It’s not surprising, then, that the bakery has been tapped to make cupcakes for Britney Spears’s birthday and regularly supplies goodies to other celebrities. After sampling the dense, fudgy brownies and moist, chocolate-saturated babka, I guarantee you'll become a Lulu’s addict.
Patisserie Lulu, 40 Garth Rd., Scarsdale (914) 722-8300, www.sweetsbylulu.com
Best This Side of the Seine
Mount Kisco’s La Tulipe is the atelier of chef-owner and artist Maarten
Steenman. Trained at famed Parisienne patisseries Fauchon and Bernachon, Steenman works with only the finest ingredients. When I visited, he proudly showed me his Sicilian pistachios, Spanish marcona almonds, and German marzipan. It’s these premium ingredients, plus extremely long days, that result in the bakery’s picture-perfect French cakes, tarts, macaroons, pâté de fruits, truffles, and croissants. Yet, these sweets are more than works of art—they also taste sublime. Steenman’s creamy and complex caramel cake, with poached pears, caramel mousse, and sponge cake, is redolent of liqueur and the faint bitterness of caramel. His Opera, featuring coffee buttercream, chocolate coffee-soaked cake, and chocolate ganache, is the epitome of sophistication, with its bittersweet flavor and edible gold- leaf garnish. Celebrities share my enthusiasm: Vanessa Williams and Susan Sarandon have stopped by, and La Tulipe has created cakes for Chevy Chase and Robert De Niro. This bakery is definitely a star performer.
La Tulipe, 455 Lexington Ave., Mount Kisco (914) 242-4555.
Pie, Glorious Pie
If pie takes the cake in your book, head to Galloway’s Country Kitchen in Scarsdale. Everyone else does: the lines go down the block during the holidays. Galloway’s is an American family business; gregarious husband and wife co-owners, Patti and Bob Galloway, are the second generation. After World War II, Bob’s parents opened a luncheonette in Bronxville and later a bakery in Hartsdale (the current shop has been in its present location since 1962). Galloway’s offers a bevy of full-size and mini pies, such as cherry crumb, lemon meringue, and banana cream, which they churn out assembly-line fashion during the holidays. The same basic recipe has been used for a while, which you’ll realize is definitely a good thing—the flaky-crusted chocolate cream and coconut custard pies are delicious. And, even though they’re less famous, don’t overlook Galloway’s delectable glazed and jelly doughnuts, which I’ve been dreaming about for weeks. Before you head over there to get your fill, consider yourself warned: the bakery is open only Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Galloway’s Country Kitchen, 69 Harney Rd., Scarsdale (914) 725-4074.
Dina Cheney is a freelance writer who also teaches cooking classes and hosts chocolate tastings through her business, Cooking by Heart (www.cookingbyheart.com).
Other International Bakeries
660 Saw Mill River Rd., Ardsley
Grandma’s of Yorktown
Restaurant & Pie Shop
3525 Crompond Rd., Route 202, Cortlandt Manor
(914) 739-7770, also in Hartsdale
Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill
126 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains
Sunsplash Caribbean Bakery
209 Saw Mill River Rd., Elmsford
468 Bedford Rd., Pleasantville
(914) 747-8191, also in Croton-on-Hudson and Millwood
La Renaissance French Pastry
140 Chatsworth Ave., Larchmont
(914) 834-0244, also in Scarsdale
1777 Central Park Ave., Yonkers
257 New Main St., Yonkers
(Also carries Mexican desserts)
63 Main St., Dobbs Ferry
(914) 479-0706, www.settepani.com
1321 North Ave., New Rochelle
Asi Es Colombia Restaurant
172 North Main St., Port Chester
Padamina’s Brazilian Bakery
66 W. Lincoln Ave., Mount Vernon