Each morning, the bakers at Gourmet Bake Shop fill pan after pan with large batches of dough, kicking off the process of baking fresh, piping-hot breads, pastries, and cakes. After cooling, cake rounds are stacked with layers of fruit fillings, topped with buttercream frosting, and sometimes carved into a custom shape such as a champagne bottle, heart, or Dora the Explorer. The shop also whips up Italian and French pastries and seven-layer cakes, which dazzle palates and geologists with a variety of cakes and fillings in each bite.
Tom Carvel practiced many trades in his youth, from a Dixieland drummer to a test driver of Studebakers. When a medical diagnosis forced him to seek out the country air, he started selling ice cream out of his battered old truck, just to keep his hands busy. One day, his truck suffered a flat tire in a parking lot by the highway. Fortunately, motoring tourists had a taste for the stuff, and Tom sold his entire stock in two days. That accidental pit stop became the site of his first brick-and-mortar store in 1934.
Today, Carvel Ice Cream still satisfies sweet teeth from over 500 locations. Its treats, of course, have evolved with the times, and in addition to Tom's signature soft serve, they now make cupcakes and other novelty sweets. The purveyors of Tom's legacy are particularly proud of their ice cream cakes, which they make fresh each day and form into shapes such as familiar characters or classic rectangles, which were originally intended to differentiate them from cheese wheels.
A cake draped in fondant cherry blossoms; a cake crowned with an edible gift bow; a cake that could be mistaken for an elegant purse—sweets such as these are custom-designed for weddings, birthdays, and baby showers at Sapienza Bake Shop. The Italian bakery has been in the Sapienza family for three generations. Guided by old-fashioned recipes, rather than whatever appears in the encyclopedia under “food,” its culinary team crafts crunchy biscotti in flavors including coconut and chocolate chip, as well as confections such as the tri-colored rainbow cookie, layered with chocolate and jam. Their éclairs and sfogliatelli, a flaky pastry filled with semolina and ricotta, delight the sweet tooth, as do pies, cheesecakes, and other delicacies.
Baci's dessert artisans concoct gelato, sorbetto, yogurt gelato, and soy gelato directly on the premises from the finest Italian ingredients. The 20 mouth-watering flavors rotate daily, pleasing palates with pistachio, raspberry cheesecake, and white chocolate hazelnut flavors, among many others. Isolate one flavor at a time with a small cup ($3.25), or confuse your mouth with a heaping large cup of the frosty delights ($5.25). Visitors exhausted from spoon-to-mouth routines can slurp up milkshakes ($4.75) or milkshake-like frappes ($4.75), or opt to warm up after chilly eating sessions with high-quality espressos and cappucinos ($3.25–$3.75). Like the respect of strangers, gelato can also be purchased by the pint ($9) or quart ($17).