I will admit that I was both happy and curious when I heard that Angelina, of Parisian fame, was opening in New York. We had gotten used to Maison Kayser shops all over town, another French import, but the pandemic seems to have taken them out of our bakery rotation for good. I kept thinking of the tarte au citron from my favorite patisserie on the Rue de Buci, unhappily no longer there, as the owners decided it was time to hang up their baker’s caps. Kayser had a pretty good one, though not as good as my Parisian tarte. I started to look around for other patesseries, and found that everyone in New York seems to have a giant sweet tooth.
New York has bakeries and patisseries galore, and many of them are French. Herein is a very small selection of pastry chefs offering an amazing range of sweet indulgences. And I bet with Easter coming up, each chef will be offering very tempting holiday specialties.
I must confess I am a bit confused by Angelina’s location. Admittedly the location was probably chosen pre-pandemic, but tourist-friendly Sixth Avenue near Bryant Park, in the Garment District, would not have been my first choice. The tea room is now open for indoor dining, but as with most of the establishments here, pick up and delivery are available, too. The room itself is smaller than the original Rue de Rivoli location, but decorated pretty much the same as the mother ship.
Takeaway is part of offering. Along with coffee or tea and pastries, there is a selection of salads and sandwiches to go. Of course there are macarons. Nine varieties, from Mont-Blanc and rose to caramel, are on offer. Try their delicious handmade chocolates and cookies while you are at it.
The Mont-Blanc is the signature Angelina pastry. The bombe-shaped pastry starts with meringue covered with whipped cream and then chestnut cream vermicelli. It is available in pistachio and other flavors. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and tea. There is a savoury menu as well as a sweet one. The croque monsieur is an amazing assemblage of housemade bread, gruyere, ham, and lots and lots of butter.
Everything is made in house. The sweets in the cases are replenished as needed to make sure everything is beautifully fresh. The pastries can be made into larger cakes in two sizes on demand. Mini viennoiseries are served for breakfast only.
And let’s not forget about Angelina’s famous hot chocolate. It is served by the pichet with a side of whipped cream in the tea room, or you can take a few bottles home and heat them up. Thick, rich and creamy, it is the ultimate hot chocolate. Angelina offers a full range of products to go or to order on their website. Cookies, candies, teas, jams, crepes and more. You can take it all with you!
While I was there, a young woman sat at the back of the restaurant with a huge camera. She was slowly photographing a series of pastries. And she never took a bite. Instgramming or working in-house?
Angelina is definitely worth exploring. In Paris they are also known for catering events. Maybe that will be next up on the list for the New York branch when we are almost all vaccinated and social life resumes. In any case, bienvenue à New York. We are happy to have you.
Angelina, 1050 Sixth Avenue
Sweet Rehab in SoHo is a counter full of deliciousness and a small seating area. David Zaquine, the French pastry chef and owner, has reinvented many classics, and updated some others. His work is sugar-rush worthy. Find the Addict Brioche loaves, Chocolate Explosion, and the Napoleon Mille-Feuille. Or Lemon Yuzu Tart or cookies heaped with fruit and more. Miam-miam as they say.
The selection is small and powerful. All the mini fruit tarts can be ordered as full size pies. As can most of the other specialties. Sweet Rehab delivers in the city if you cannot (or will not) make it downtown.
The sweets in the background are really special. French mango cheesecake, fig pistachio cake, honey mousse and dark chocolate fill the not-so-small jars. They are all impossibly good. The cookies topped with fruit and the Chocolate Explosion to the left are unique and delicious.
Sweet Rehab is big on giving out samples, and often sends samples with you when you order, buy or eat in the sophisticated boutique. They know how to get you addicted to their treats.
Everything is made in house with fresh ingredients. I learned how they got fresh figs in March (cherchez la right purveyor) and watched cakes being decorated. A small selection Marriage Freres tea are for sale loose and in bags. This pastry so good, I could become an addict.
Sweet Rehab, 135 Sullivan Street
Patisserie Claude is a Village institution with a wonderful backstory. As I walked into the shop in the early afternoon, the smell of butter filled the store. Pablo Valdez and his wife were restocking the quiches, croissants, cookies and everything else. Claude was opened in 1982 by Monsieur Claude.
Walking by the shop late at night I often spotted Claude sleeping on the floor of kitchen in the back. He worked around the clock to produce perfect French pastry. Pablo became his assistant, and learned all, or most, of Claude’s secrets. Claude went back to France in 1998 and Pablo bought the business.
Claude has some of the best cookies in the city. Palmiers, small squares, chocolate and more. These too were being replenished while I was there. Hence the wonderful buttery smells. Order ahead if you want.
Fruit tarts are a specialty. Pablo makes the best tarte tatin (not pictured) in New York (I ate the last one!). Tarts and cakes are available in both small and larger sizes, and can be ordered online for delivery, as well as in store. The Opera cakes and chocolate mousse are delicious.
Cakes, delicious eclairs, proper Napoleons and more are in store. Claude makes one of the best bûche de Noël and Galette des Roi around. There are a few tables in the store and out in front of the shop.
Patisserie Claude, 187 West 4th Street
Ceci Cela means this and that in French. It is also the name of a wonderful bakery on Delancey Street. You will find good coffees and pastries to go with them. The coffee special of the day was a lavender latte.
Breakfast treats, or viennoiseries, are delicious; and a little bit different than those found in other shops.
The perfect Parisian breakfast is freshly squeezed orange juice, viennoiserie and the cafe of your choice. There is a reason why French breakfast pastries are called “things from Vienna,” which goes back to the late 1830s. They are considered a transition from baking, as in bread, to patisserie.
Tarts, macarons, fruit custards and more are available in the store or for delivery. Ceci Cela also makes edible works of art — wedding cakes, croquembouches (towers of profiteroles), petits four, and more.
There are fruit tarts and custard tarts. At the back of the case is one elusive Paris-Brest. It’s hard to find a Paris-Brest in Paris let alone New York. Considered very “old School,” it is a super delicious treat.
There is a small cafe at the back of the shop that is now open. Laurent Dupal, the pastry chef and founder, oversees it all. M. Dupal also has a wholesale business located in Brooklyn.
Ceci-Cela, 14 Delancey Street
Dominique Ansel invented the Cronut in 2013. A cross between a donut and a croissant, it was an instant hit. It’s no surprise, then, that everything in this shop is very creative. Mr. Ansel plays with classic French pastries and makes them better. The offerings evolve constantly. I find myself missing my old favorites, while loving the new. Coffee, an all-day breakfast, and savory treats are served in addition to viennoiseries and pastry.
There is a selection of pastries, eclairs and tarts. The Gingerbread Pinecone and the Matcha Passion Fruit Mousse cake are incredible. Actually, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
On the creative side are the Frozen S’mores, to the right. An ice cream and marshmallow riff on a campsite favorite, it is amusing and delicious. Chocolate Chip Cookie Shots are to the left. Pour Madagascan vanilla milk into a cookie roll, drink the milk and then savor the cookie.
Another Ansel speialty is the DKA, or Dominique’s Kouign Amann. A crispy caramelized croissant. Many of the items are available for delivery. Along with coffees and teas, the savory menu includes a small, but perfect list of sandwiches, quiches and soup.
Yes, there are lines to get into the shop, and lines inside the shop, too. Clearly, everyone thinks the wait is worth it. At the far end of this line is a small garden that is open when weather permits so you can enjoy your purchases … immediately!
Dominque Ansel Bakery, 189 Spring Street
Owner and head pastry chef Stéphane Pourrez opened the Eclair Bakery in 2013. As the name implies, he specializes in eclairs. Ten delicious flavors of them. The offerings of the bakery have grown.
You will find cakes, tarts and patisseries, and a good selection of viennoiseries as well. Quiches and sandwiches are also available. Delivery is available in Midtown East and the UES.
All of the small cakes and tarts can be ordered in larger sizes. M. Pourrez will make special things to order, perhaps different kinds of cakes or special presentation. Lemon, red velvet and other tastes are available. You can send him a message online, and discuss what you would like to have made.
Eclairs are packed in boxes of five, your choice of flavor. Go ahead, treat yourself. And when we start going to dinner parties again, they will make for a yummy present. Macarons are for sale, too. All baking is done in house.
Coffees, tea and chocolate are available to go with your sweets. The seating area is well spaced and comfortable. And while you are there, do try the homemade gelato. You won’t regret it. I never did find the the lemony replacement for my tart au citron, but I did find many sweet temptations to love.
Eclair Bakery, 305 East 53rd Street
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.