Doing double duty as a hat maker to the stars, with his chapeaus topping the crowns of Eva Longoria and Charlize Theron, Naftali Abenaim possesses an artful eye. This aesthetic touch helped him in his time working as a pastry chef in Manhattan hotels and led him to open Mocha Bleu, where he uses his skills to appeal to diners’ tendencies to “eat with their eyes first.” To this end, Abenaim designed the restaurant to get people excited about his food before they even sit down, with transparent Philippe Starck seating, walls coated in silvery-blue mosaic, and crisp, white napkins at every table.
His kitchen constructs pescetarian- and vegetarian-friendly dishes with European flavors in what Abenaim calls generous, “American-sized portions,” as opposed to those scaled to Luxemburg. Presentation plays a large part in the appeal of his food. A French patisserie welcomes patrons upon entering, a comfortable lounge sports WiFi, and a cherry-wood burning oven stands in the center of the dining area, where chefs put a golden-brown edge on pizzas and calzones loaded with nonmeat ingredients, such as savory mock pepperoni and mock chicken or mock crabmeat and shrimp. The poutine embodies the regional cuisine of Abenaim’s Canadian home by presenting tables with a freshly baked pile of julienne fries topped with rich gravy and mozzarella.:m]]
Voted the 2008 and 2009 #1 Bakery in Best of Bergen, Butterflake Bakery serves up a kosher and colorful assortment of confections from old world classics like Challah and jam-filled Hamantaschen, to wedding cakes replete with blooming gardens of frosting. Dessert aficionados can enjoy Butterflake's vast selection of cookies (starting at $1.75 each), Danish and croissants (starting at $1.90), pies and tortes (starting at $8.95), and myriad other tasty treats. Sifting together the dry ingredients of baking and technology, computer generated portrait/picture cakes can depict any image through the delectable medium of frosting, while cakes molded in the shape of popular cartoon characters can add dulcet dimension to a child's birthday party. Butterflake Bakery also alleviates the anxieties of patrons with nut allergies by keeping all of their baked goods completely isolated from nuts, nut products, and nutty high-speed chase sequences.
“The healthy side of happiness” is both a phrase affixed on Yo Boys Frozen Yogurt's wall and the philosophy of founders Mike and James Savas, as related in an article on Teaneck Patch. A rotating selection of kosher-certified yogurts—including dairy-free, gluten-free, and no-sugar-added options—swirls into self-serve cups at guests' command, creating peaks of red velvet, dollops of pineapple, and snakes of pomegranate sorbet. After customers top creations with more than 40 options, including fresh fruit, candy, or a jauntily tipped bowler hat, the cashier weighs treats to calculate the cost based on ounces.
Sugar and Plumm manages to exude a distinctively French charm that appeals to the refined palates of all ages. The Parisian–inspired whimsical haven caters to virtually every taste bud by enlisting the talents of formally trained chefs, Parisian chocolatiers, and various ice cream makers and pastry chefs. Together, this team creates an eclectic assortment of sweet and savory treats, beginning from scratch whenever possible, and enjoyed while dining in or being delivered.
Executive Chef Ben Dodaro oversees the kitchen at the Upper West Side bistro, cooking a sophisticated combination of upscale yet familiar French classics and refined versions of American comfort foods. His team handles every piece of protein from start to finish by butchering, smoking, and curing all of the meats and fishes in-house. This extra bit of effort helps elevate dishes such as the waffles with crispy, free-range chicken, and it complements the classical elegance of dishes such as the salad with confit rabbit, heirloom carrots, and an orange-cider vinaigrette.
Sugar and Plumm’s savory offerings are only one small piece of the puzzle, though. Master French chocolatier Thierry Atlan and his team use raw, all-natural, sustainably farmed chocolate as they meticulously craft small batches of treats. The pastry chefs bake in two shifts every day, ensuring that the shelves are lined with fresh macarons and cakes, even while taking the time to make their own jams and jellies in-house. These chefs also prepare their own ice creams and sorbets from scratch, patiently allowing the flavors to meld and coalesce by using a process that, much like a book club discussion of The Oxford English Dictionary, takes two full days.
When Palermo’s Bakery opened nearly three decades ago, it was a small storefront affair. Husband and wife team, Joanne and Jerry Bruno, baked small-scale confections at first, but over the years, Jerry became adventurous, constructing elaborate designer cakes that grew more intricate over the years. Twenty-five years later, thanks in part to those same creations, the small Italian bakery has grown into two custom cake shops with more than 50 staff members.
Still helmed by the Bruno family, Palermo's Bakery creates lavish wedding cakes bursting with fondant flowers, and specialty cakes sculpted into an array of improbable shapes, such as 3D champagne bottles. Though baked goods and pastries vary by location, they often include more than 20 flavors of cookies, Italian treats such as cannoli, and kosher desserts such as rugalech. All of the duo’s whimsical creations are available for pick-up or delivery.
Tom Carvel personified the American dream. Born in Greece in 1906 as Athanassios Karvelas, he began dishing out ice cream from a beat-up vending truck that, in 1934, suffered a flat tire in Hartsdale, New York. Two years later—in the same spot where his truck broke down and took up bird watching—Carvel opened his first roadside ice-cream stand, which the company stakes as the first retail ice-cream franchise to ever swirl onto the American marketplace. Today, Carvel’s creamy products serve up sweet reprieve from 500 stores and more than 8,000 supermarkets across the nation. Daily-made ice creams continue to headline a menu that now includes sundaes, shakes, and novelty items such as the Flying Saucer and the Banana Barge. Ice-cream cakes layered with chocolate crunchies have also evolved into one of Carvel’s calling cards, and, like piñatas that stock their wardrobes with an assortment of fake mustaches, are customizable to specific celebrations, including birthdays and holidays.
The pen stroke of a poet. The flourish of a painter's brush. The tangled staff notes of a musician. The baker and owner of Yummy Bakes, Iris Rodriguez, likens the way she narrates celebrations through custom cakes and cupcakes to the works of any other artist. She sculpts 3-D desserts to reflect the focus of festivities, commemorating nuptials with four tiers of a ribbon-adorned cake in Tiffany blue and birthdays with an edible castle of bubblegum-pink turrets inhabited by princesses. Cartoon characters from Angry Birds and Sesame Street emerge in colorful twists of frosting and fondant, delighting birthday celebrants and confusing Martians trying to understand Earth’s food chain. Iris sometimes weaves her stories by embellishing sweets with edible photographs and images.:m]]