Though LaDawn has loved baking with her mother and grandmother since childhood, Sweets By LaDawn began as an accident. After LaDawn told her coworker that her (nonexistant) recipe for Italian cream cake was better than a local restaurant's, she then quickly cobbled together a cake to bring in. Surprisingly, all of LaDawn's coworkers agreed her cake was in fact better than the restaurant's, and the orders for cakes started coming in. After relocating to Cincinnati from Baton Rouge following Hurricane Katrina, she now creates custom cakes that she sculpts into 3-D shapes, tops with printed images, or frosts to a decorative finish. She starts with a choice of cake batter in flavors such as lemon, red velvet, or spice cake. From there, she can pipe cakes with a swirl of cherry, Oreo, or chocolate bavarian cream fillings. She then frosts the entire thing in a pristine layer of cream cheese, buttercream, chocolate ganache, or molded fondant. Outside of cakes, she also crafts cookies and cupcakes. Plenty of parking is available near Sweets by LaDawn, and customers may sit in the shop's outdoor seating area to enjoy treats from inside.
A full-service cupcake bakery, SugarPlums offers more than 20 cupcake varieties that aim to awaken the child within and give him or her a frosting mustache. Sample flavors ($2.95 each, $30 per dozen) such as the coconut cream pie, white-chocolate raspberry, snickerdoodle, mint chocolate, cookies ‘n' cream, nana nana bo bana banana, and mocha latte. Best of all, cupcakes come in practical sizes that don’t necessitate the use of a sextant and TI-83 calculator to cut into properly sized cake slices.
Aromas of roasting pine nuts, pesto sauces, and baking lasagna fill the air as chefs at Ferrari’s Little Italy and Bakery craft traditional Italian fare according to the owners' family recipes. They sprinkle the signature insalata Ferrari with cranberries, pine nuts, and gorgonzola cheese and top the pollo basilico's roasted chicken with rigatoni, sun-dried tomatoes, and pesto cream sauce. Additionally, a pair of bakers slides around 150 loaves of fresh focaccia bread into their ovens each day, yielding slices topped with three colors of bell peppers, spinach, and gorgonzola cheese. These appear in glass bakery cases alongside pastries and artisan gelato from local dessert makers Madisono’s Gelato and Sorbet.
Inside Ferrari's multiple dining areas, gas fireplaces flicker among exposed-brick walls, and family photos help create a homey feel. On the outdoor patio, fragrant wisteria vines climb a wooden pergola, and a picturesque fountain quietly babbles recommendations from the wine list.
Taren, the owner of Sweet Petit Desserts, draws on a wide array of culinary influences to craft her treats. One day, she might recreate a dessert she tasted across the world; the next, she might whip up a treat inspired by the remembered scent of her grandmother's kitchen. Most of her desserts are bite-size, meaning you can enjoy indulgent flavors without feeling too guilty.
If you walk into the bakery on any given day, you're likely to find cheesecake pops, pie tartlets, and macaroons lining the bakery's glass display case. Taren has also been known to craft creative specialties such as miniature milk shakes or slices of grilled-strawberry shortcake topped with lemon curd. She also welcomes groups to the shop for dessert parties with activities such as cupcake decorating.
Teri Scheff, a skilled ceramics sculptor and the founder of Artrageous Desserts, augments celebrations with customizable cupcakes and cakes, in traditional stacks or eye-catching original designs. Armed with a spatula and steady hand, the playful artist crafts cakes for weddings or other special occasions in the likeness of family pets, a new car, or a conventional birthday cake's long-lost twin. The bakery's mature-cake division boasts racy designs in anatomically inspired shapes and adult-themed inscriptions.
Wake up with dishes from Giminetti's breakfast menu. Fork through a fluffy stack of syrup-drenched pancakes ($3.50 for stack of three) or opt for a cheesy omelette ($4) with melted sharp cheddar. Brownies ($2), white-chocolate macadamia-nut cookies ($0.75), and monstrous Danishes ($1.50) tempt sweet teeth. For midday meals, try the vedgewich ($5.50), an array of tempting veggies (grilled onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, tomatoes, sprouts, cucumbers) and savory provolone plopped between slices of multigrain rustica and slathered with a liberal dose of horseradish mayo. Subs, hoagies, burgers, and paninis appease meatier palates.