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.
A globally recognized sweet shop, Beard Papa's converts traditional desserts into decadent, fresh-baked, hand-labored lovables. Its all-natural cream puffs ($1.75 each) exhibit a complex, crispy outer choux pastry packed with mouth-melting, fluffy whip-cream flavor derived from imported vanilla beans and hours of diligent daydreaming. Available in classic cream and hybrid chocolate, strawberry, espresso, or tea flavors, Beard Papa's cream puffs pluck and pair well with any warm autumn beverage or apathetic frenemy. Outside the realm of spherical sweetness, the shop also puts out single-serving fondant au chocolate engorged with gooey Belgian chocolate ($2.25), a variety of wheel-shaped Paris Brest ($2.25), and mochi ice cream balls—a Japanese confection made up of pounded sticky rice and ice-cream filling ($1.65). Celebrate another year where the moon hasn't accidentally rear-ended the earth with the cream puffs of Beard Papa's.
Mojo Frozen Yogurt's decor plays to the colorful nature of its fruit toppings, from the paper lamps that hang above the main counter to the undulating waves of color that run along its back wall. Once you've gotten an eyeful, cups at the curved row of self-serve machines beg to be filled with frozen yogurt, stealling attention from attendants who hand-scoop ice cream sundaes and banana splits. The shop even creates custom ice cream cakes and cheesecakes that help send congratulations. There are goodies here for people with dietary restrictions too, as the shop fills out its menu with sugar-free frozen yogurts, dairy-free sorbets, and calorie-free empty cups.
Grandaisy Bakery is all about saving the art of hand-crafted bread. Founded in 2006 by Sullivan Street Bakery alum Monica Von Thun Calderon, Grandaisy Bakery has taken its bread-making pedigree and pushed it in a distinctly Italian direction. Stirato, filone, ciabatta, pane alle olive and pizza are joined by raisin walnut loaves and seven grain breads, along with a host of sweets. At the Upper West Side location, one of Grandaisy’s two locations, customers will find budino di pane, a rum-soaked brioche bread pudding; lumaca, a flaky pastry with apricots and currants; chocolate torts and a wall full of panetone during the holiday season. Grandaisy also makes pizzas – the cauliflower is the most popular – and sandwiches for easygoing lunch options, and the white-tiled space has room for a few small seats at the front, where customers can sip coffee and munch pastry.
Bagel Talk Inc's flavorful rounds emerge piping hot from the warm embrace of the shop's oven, destined to be slathered in cream cheese, stacked into sandwiches, or served alongside steaming cups of coffee and tea. Diners pick their bagels and toppings from a spacious glass display case and settle down to devour eats at tables beneath pendant lights. Bagel-smiths slice Boar's Head meats and cheeses to fill a selection of sandwiches, and breakfast eats load up with bacon, eggs, and cheeses. A dulcet parade of muffins and cookies begs to be included in desserts or given as payment to pigeons starring in online videos.
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.