By Allison Persad
There is something transcendent about the smell
of baked goods.
Sweet and savory aromas immediately place us in
a memory – grandma’s kitchen, Christmas
morning or even your favorite shop around the
corner. When it comes to pastries, breads, cakes,
or any sweet confection you may be craving, Queens
has a concoction waiting for you.
It may be called a café, a patisserie,
a pastry shop or even a bake house. They all have
one thing in common – to satisfy our sweet
tooth. Buttery dough, airy chocolate mousse, oozing
vanilla crème éclairs, decadent
pecan pies: why can’t we get enough?
Pastries and savories are the perfect gifts for
most on your list this season, naughty or nice.
Decorated with a beautiful basket or platter,
it makes a great hostess gift for you to bring
along for a holiday dinner.
Sweets also make a great gift for bosses, a not
too personal, yet delicious alternative to that
coffee mug. Say thank you to all those that make
your year go by a little smoother. Bring a basket
of goodies to your nail salon, barber shop, mechanic,
dentist (sugar free), teacher, or even your mailman.
From Italian delicacies and Greek pastries to
Polish cheesecake, Queens has the best of all
Agora Plaza, 23-18 31st St., Astoria (718) 728-8484
If heaven were a pastry shop in Queens, it would
be Artopolis. Sugary confections flourish at
this sophisticated shop with all the frills.
White washed walls with golden accents make
it an ethereal visit. Decadent “stations”
house treats covered in tulle, as one floats
around airy, powdery baked goodness offering
the best of Greece, France, and all in between.
“Every pastry has a story,” said
co-owner Regina Katopodis as she described tsoureki,
a dense Greek bread similar to challah. It began
over 700 years ago with Constantinople and uses
mastica, an ingredient found nowhere in the
world, except the island of Chios.
You can expect the traditional baklava, drizzled
with honey, tiropitas (cheese pies) and spanakopitas
(spinach pies) but the unexpected chocolate
soufflés and passion fruit mousse add
decadent variety. From pecan to key lime, all
your pie wishes will be granted. Open seven
days a week including Thanksgiving and Christmas
Day. All ingredients at his slice of heaven
are pure with no substitutes.
D’Aquila Pastry Shop
33-31 Francis Lewis Blvd., Bayside (718) 886-4800
A long time resident of Bayside, this small
understated Italian bakery receives high accolades
from devoted customers. Family owned and run
for 32 years, all baking is done on premises
with fresh ingredients. Tiramisu, to coconut
pie, chocolate covered cannolis to amaretti
cookies, all await your holiday cravings. You
can also find seasonal treats like the dried-fruit-speckled
sweet bread panettone, traditionally imported
around Christmastime, and even home-made gelato!
Owner Jack D’Aquila says the slow economy
has affected business, with prices going up
and people buying less, he has seen at least
a 30 percent drop in sales. However, regulars
still line up to get the quality goods, all
made by hand.
“It’s simply the best,” said
Helen Barker, local realtor and a devotee for
15 years. With so many options now, including
gourmet supermarkets, Barker says it’s
here she comes for all her sweet treats.
Okruszek Polish Bakery
60-45 Maspeth Ave., Maspeth (718) 416-8100
With a Polish population en masse in Maspeth,
it is no wonder there is a bakery offering traditional
goodies. There are no tables in this narrow
storefront shop, but locals continue to support
this favorite. Open for eight years, with two
other locations, affordable prices with traditional
treats, keep this quaint shop busy. Rich, creamy
cheesecake in flavors such as peach, mixed fruit,
and chocolate are staples for a Polish holiday
Ptysie (éclairs), szyszka (toffee rice
balls) and paczki (fruit and jelly filled donuts)
are some of the classic pastries found here.
In addition, you will find makowiec, a poppy
seed roll eaten throughout the year.
“I love the cheesecake here,” said
Anna Jaworek, a long time customer of Okruszek’s.
She has been coming here for the past four years
since moving from Poland.
83-03 Northern Blvd., Flushing (718) 335-4548
With multiple locations scattered throughout
Northern Queens, from Jackson Heights to Sunnyside,
this is a Columbian staple among those in the
know. Fresh baked Columbian breads and pastries
flavored with cheese, milk and even guava are
among the choices.
Most notably are the delicious empanadas, fried
golden pastries filled with savory meat or chicken.
Also available are homemade flan, a creamy egg
custard and fluffy bunuelos resembling donut