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.
Jim Lahey may have set out to shape stone and clay, but—to the delight of just about everybody else—dough was the medium he was destined to mold. While studying sculpture in Italy, Lahey became invested in the art of Italian bread baking, and brought that passion and a hand-cultivated wild yeast back to the kitchens of New York. There, he developed an innovative no-kneading technique of bread making that spawned a revolution in artisanal breads, thanks to a recipe spotlighted by ¬¬New York Times food critic Mark Bittman. Since then, critics from sources as diverse as Bon Appétit and the Martha Stewart Show have praised him between bites of his sought-after loaves.
At Sullivan St. Bakery, the wild alchemy of Jim’s oven-teasing ways is on full display. The filone, a dark loaf prepared with mature fermentation and coated with wheat bran, gives off nutty and sour flavors, while the pane pugliese’s lingering caramel aftertaste could convince a swarm of bees to surrender their hive so that their honey could broach its soft interior webbing. Panini and pizza are also available, gracing the same breads that made Jim famous, as well as signature bomboloni Italian doughnuts, with cores of vanilla bean custard or seasonal fruit fillings bursting through sugar-powdered shells.
Though much of Kyotofu's positive press revolves around its modern Japanese desserts, including this piece in Huffington Post, critics can't seem to resist tucking into the restaurant's full menu. Zagat rated the food a 24, and the Wall Street Journal praises the eatery's tofu-centric lunches, noting that "the inventive menu will wow even the most tofu-averse." The tofu, made daily in-house and inspired by famed tofu manufacturer Kyotofu-Fujino, finds its way into both sweet and savory plates, starring in a tofu-spinach-artichoke dip as well a yuzu-citrus-tofu cheesecake. Plenty of tofu-free dishes, such as pulled-pork sliders, join vegan and Celiac Sprue Association–certified gluten-free items such as purple rice balls that have been created with the help of a partnership with chef Thomas Keller.
The restaurant mirrors the clean, contemporary presentations of its modern recipes, featuring stark, cream-colored walls lit by unobtrusive recessed lighting and flickering tabletop candles. The dining space, which New York Times critic and secret astronaut Peter Meehan compares to "the plush eating quarters of a Japanese millionaire’s spaceship" was designed by Hiro Tsuruta, of ChikaLicious fame.
Behind a large picture window colonized by the covetous faces of passersby, the Little Pie Company’s kitchen bustles with a crew of adroit bakers tirelessly popping freshly minted confections into sparkling steel ovens. Champions of homestyle cooking since setting their first pie out to cool in 1985, staffers forge each toothsome treat from scratch using only fresh ingredients free of artificial, chemical, or secret agents. Bakers frequently switch up the menu in order to give each time of year its due, with seasonal offerings composed of calendar-appropriate fillings such as berries in the summer, pumpkins in the fall, and organic snowmen in the winter. The in-store counter beckons guests to linger and sip coffee, and on balmy days, an army of outdoor tables enables alfresco dining under the watchful gaze of the sun.