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Pastry Shops in Boston?

Hi Everyone,

I am looking for some great pastry shops
I have been to Athan's and Flour, but was wondering
what are your favorite bakeries (could be in Brookline and
Cambridge) Thanks!

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  1. modern pastry in the north end

    1. Clear Flour in Brookline does only a few pastries, they're mostly a bread bakery, but the ones they do are excellent - mainly fruit tarts (not flat open-face glazed tarts, more like dishless pies, a square of dough folded loosely around a filling), brownies, and occasionally caneles.

      2 Replies
      1. re: BobB

        oh yes, I have heard great things about this bakery.

        1. re: BobB

          My favorite pastry at Clear Flour is the bostok: an inch-thick slice of brioche, toasted and topped with almond frangipane.

        2. I second Clear Flour. Great place, limited pastries but
          fantastic. Other thoughts..for fun cakes Party Favors in
          Coolidge Corner..there is always Rosies (a number of them,
          Inman, Porter, Chestnut Hill, etc), I love their dense,
          rich cakes and other goodies..and, for lighter cakes with a
          Japanese take, Japonaise which is on Beacon in the St. Mary's

          I like them all for their different styles of baked sweet

          1. Lakota Bakery in Arlington Heights has excellent cookies. Their macaroons, shortbread and florentines are exceptional. You can taste the butter...

            1. I like Fiore's in Jamaica Plain for all the old standards, made with heaps of sugar.

              1. Vanille on Charles Street at Mt. Vernon has good French pastries --some with a local twist (like the Annabelle tart of cake, meringue and cranberries).

                1. I loved Delphine's Gourmandaise (sp?) which used to have branches in Coolidge Corner and Marblehead. It offered classic French pastries, but it went out business about four or five years ago. The owner apparently decided to devote his time to teaching baking instead of baking.

                  How does Vanille compare to that now defunct shop or to authentic pastries in France?

                  I will check out Vanille, but so far I have been very disappointed with French and other pastry shops in Boston. Bond and Burckhart (sp?) in Newton Centre used to make incredible sticky buns, but then their rent went up and an inferior oriental noodle shop took over. They became bunsofboston and sold through Bread & Circus for awhile, but recently even that point of access disappeared. I can occasionally manage Athan's, but the sugar content is so sky high that even I, a true sugarholic, fear I might OD. I have tried Petsi's several times, but can't share the hype. She is charming. The original store is funky, but the product is just so-so. (Caveat: I hate scones. They crumble to bits and get stuck in my gullet). Flour is OK, but as has been noted, their main product is bread, not pastry. Whole Wallet (aka Food) does have an impressive display of pastries in some of their branches, but they are incredibly overpriced and I fear (on the Finale model) look better than they taste. Furthermore their vendors change so one cannot rely upon a steady stream of a consistent product. Has anyone sacrificed their blood vessels and their retirement fund to tasting the WW(F)offerings?

                  No pastry shop in Boston compares to what is available in New York or Montreal, let alone Paris. Please convince me that I am wrong.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: VivreManger

                    Cafe Vanille - looks good, taste is not fantastic - but then I haven't tried them all. Glad to hear someone remembers Delphin's! Besides that he's such a nice guy, tasting his pastries was the high point of taking his classes. One of Delphin's pastry school students, who helped him with production for a year after classes (and I really really wish I had done that!) is making some of his pastries at the Nutcracker Bakery in the Tannery in Newburyport.

                    1. re: VivreManger

                      Okay, I agree that nothing bakerywise in Boston compares to Paris, NYC, Montreal, etc. I also agree that no one bakery has it all. Each has its specialties. The posts here make it clear that some people responding have more Frenchy tastes, others classic American bread-based pastry tastes and others Asian-oriented tastes.

                      That said, I think everyone here would be very disappointed --perhaps repulsed-- by Whole Foods' pastry cream. The stuff they use for Bavarian-cream type filling is repugnant. It's different (more a powdery pasty finish than greasy) from typical supermarket chains' planet pus offerings, but it is still nasty. Avoid it.

                      Some of the cookies, things made whipped cream, etc. are okay. I like the moistness of their cakes.

                    2. I don't think any one bakery has it all. For cannoli, I'd recommend La Contessa in Davis Square, Somerville. For cookies, I second the Lakota recommendation. If Arlington is too much of a trek for you, you can get them at the Pemberton Gardens market on Mass Ave in North Cambridge, at the corner of Day St. Quebrada in East Arlington used to have wonderful challah and scones, but I haven't been there for some time. . . I'm hoping someone will tell me that they're still good!

                      1. Hands down the greatest bakery in the U.S., in my opinion, is Ho Yuen, which is in Boston's Chinatown. This bakery has been around forever. They have tons of baked goods: egg tarts, coconut mochi with a sweet peanut paste center, flaky buns with a custard center, pork buns, sweet buns, almond cookies, black bean nut bars, etc. I could go on and on. Every item is excellent. Cheap too!

                        Whenever I visit my Dad in Maine, I make it a special point to arrive at Boston Logan Airport. I then rent a car, drive to Chinatown, and stock up. I literally buy dozens and dozens and dozens of items from Ho Yuen. Some of the stuff we can freeze, but the pastries there are so good, that we usually end up eating everything in a matter of days...or at least within a week or two.

                        Everything is quite inexpensive (probably from 50 cents to $1.50 per item), but make sure you have cash, because it's cash only. Last time I was there, I ended up with two gigantic boxes of baked goods and all for only $30! I estimate that I must have purchased anywhere between 3 and 6 dozens worth of pastries.

                        There's a bakery across the street from Ho Yuen, but don't be fooled. It even resembles Ho Yuen and sells many of the same items, but the quality of the baked goods is not even comparable! In fact, I've been to different Chinatowns (and other Asian enclaves)as well as the "traditional" American (read: Anglo) bakeries around the United States, and I have yet to find pastries that surpass the quality, variety, appearance, and price of the baked goods at Ho Yuen Bakery.

                        1. How about Cafe Japonaise?

                          1. I, too, agree that Clear Flour-on Thorndike street in Brookline-is a great Boston Area bakery. Also try master boulangiers Igor Ivanovic and Ludmilla Luft's Iggy's on Fawcett Street in Cambridge for amazing breads and croissants. Trish Carter's Dancing Deer on Shirley Street in Boston is superb if you are looking for cookies, buttermilk bicuits and tea cakes. Don't forget Carberry's on Prospect in Cambridge (there's one in Arlington, too) for that morning coffee and pastry. And for the ultimate cannoli coma, it's gotta be Mike's on Hannover Street in the North End.


                            1. Truly Jorg's has a new shop in the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square. The original shop is in Saugus. Jorg is a classically-trained European pastry chef.


                              1. The New Paris Bakery, Cypress St, Brookline, has mini eclairs that are as good as anything you can imagine. Some with chocolate icing, some with white. Other kinds of pastry and candies too.

                                1. Another hearty seconding for Clear Flour, which comes as close as I've seen to a genuine Parisian boulangerie. Killer croissants, lovely crusty baguettes, and a wonderful creation called a flower, which looks like a giant sunflower whose "petals" are all mini baguette ends.

                                  I'm not quite so enthusiastic about Ho Yuen -- it's decent, but I can think of three or four bakeries in Manhattan and Flushing that easily leave any of the Chinatown bakeries in the dust. Also, Chinese baking is something of an acquired taste -- the cookies are easy enough to handle, but the dense red bean paste stuff like moon cakes and such aren't universally loved (e.g. I grew up on them, my wife can't stand them).

                                  Have tried the pastries at Cafe Vanille's outpost in the Chestnut Hill Mall. I rely on them for coffee when I'm flagging as my wife shops, have learned not to rely on them for great croissants and such. Though I haven't tried the fruit tarts, which do look decent. But when I'm on Charles Street, I would opt for Panificio for baked goods and sweets, or the Beacon Hill Hotel and Bistro for dessert type sweets, long before Cafe Vanille.

                                  My wife and I have also relied for years on Mike's Pastry in the North End, especially for their lethal walnut macaroons and pistachio something-or-others -- don't worry that the cookie is bright green, just try one of them. Haven't been to Modern Pastry yet, have been told I really need to.

                                  And we also adore Rosie's in its various branches for great cakes, including the best chocolate cake I've had in the Boston area.


                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: DrJimbob

                                    You're right that some of the Chinese/Asian pastries are an acquired taste among non-Asian folk. I find that non-Asians (notably Anglos)particularly enjoy the egg custard tarts and the sesame balls with the black bean paste. I guess those two items are the equivalent of orange chicken and kung pao chicken in Chinese restaurants.

                                    My vote is still with Ho Yuen Bakery. A lot of it has to do with sentimental reasons, but the high points I've listed above.

                                    I have not been to Mike's Bakery (North End) but I've heard nothing but good things about that place. The cannolis, apparently, are to die for.

                                    The moon cakes are way to dense for most people. I can eat a few bites at most and that's it. But they're fun to look at anyhow.

                                    1. re: Pamela

                                      From what I understand, those egg custard tarts are likely inspired by the Portuguese pateis de natas, possibly when Macao was a Portuguese colony.

                                  2. I love my pastry, Boston does not have one place that excels. Folks have given you a pretty good overview.

                                    Truly Jorg's and Cafe Vanille, bland, pretty stuff that I don't bother eating cause the taste just ain't there. Likewise with Finale which I really dislike.

                                    Ho Yuen Ting, while I like it a lot is only one of several decent chinese bakeries in Boston. I would try them all as they each have different good items.

                                    Across from Ho Yuen and away from the arch 1/2 block is a place that makes the best hotdog bun shaped coconut pastries in town. Mei Sum (formerly Mix Bakery) is also very good for some items and Bahn Mi. I also am fond of Yi Soon in Brighton.

                                    Athan's has an excellent Chocolate "Jamaica" pastry which is amongst my favorites in Boston. Their other stuff, so so.

                                    Rosies has quite a few decent items. Their Soho Glob is my favorited chocolate cookie.

                                    Modern in the North End has lots of things to try canolli, truffle bars, florentine cooks, cassata, ricotta pie, ricotta pastry, and more.

                                    I agree with the other poster that Mike's pistacio macaroons are out of this world. I also like Mike's black and white cookie, not haute patisserie, but good old school.

                                    Clear flour has some excellent stuff, and Danish pastry house has some tasty items as well.

                                    There is no one bakery here that satisfies across the board. Goood luck nibbling your way through them all.

                                    Here is my whacky out of left field suggestion: the Greenhouse in harvard square. Most things there are eh, but the very tall, plain chocolate cake, if it is pretty fresh, is excellent. I often get a slice to go and it is dessert for three days. Can't speak for any other flavor then plain chocolate...

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      I think Ho Yuen Ting is something completely different from Ho Yuen Bakery. I believe the former is actually a restaurant; the latter a bakery.

                                      1. re: Pamela

                                        I actually knew that. I meant Ho Yuen, not Ho Yuen Ting.

                                    2. Forgot to mention the excellent Blue Frog Bakery in JP. Great stuff (last had a beautiful, flakey danish), but rarely talked about.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: limster

                                        Blue Frog does have nice things, especially their cakes. I find the pastry and cookies a bit heavy. I would reccomend Fiore's in JP for macaroons, biscotti, eclairs, mini cheescakes, and florentines. The danish and pastry are only average.

                                        Bread and Butter on Washington Street in JP has changed to a bakery called Canto-- no bread, more pastry, apparently. Haven't had a chance to check it out, but as it is owned by employees of the late B & B, it is likely to be good.

                                        1. re: Notorious EMDB

                                          Canto 6 is very good. There was a line out the door on sunday am so I stopped by today. Great Sugar Brioche and fabulous sandwiches.

                                      2. I would say that Bova's Bakery is the best, specifically for Italian pastries. It's located in the heart of the North End, around the corner from Mike's. Many of my collegues would argue that it is better than Mike's, and significantly cheaper. Their cream puffs are heavenly, as well as their freshly glazed fruit tarts. They have a wide variety of other desserts - cannolis, cakes, and other cream-filled sugary pastries. And the best part is that you don't have to worry about getting there before Boston shuts down - they are open 24-7!

                                        1. Thanks for this great list of bakeries!
                                          I appreciate it :)

                                          1. I think Cafe Vanille makes a really good almond croissant and some very good items that resemble the classic "pain raisin" but which are called things like "Hurricane" and "Sunset" at Vanille. I have not tried the fruit tarts or cakes. Carberry's makes excellent Icelandic pastry (the maple pecan one is especially good) and a decent (if slightly undercooked) pear danish, but other items can be hit or miss. Rosie's makes a great congo bar and nice thumbprint cookies, but many of their other items are too gloppy and unrefined for me. Was not impressed with the scone I had at Panificio but I like the place for general ambiance and good brunch food.

                                            Chinese pastry is made with lots of lard, which puts some people off but makes for very flaky crusts.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: bella_sarda

                                              Lard's also often used in sfogliatelle riche. Napoli pastry has a good version (imported frozen, baked in house).

                                            2. I have been going to the Ho Yuen for years. I enjoy the beef buns and the spring rolls. I also go to the Eldo Cake House around the corner for cake.

                                              I have read that Maria's on Cross Street in the North End is the place to go for pastry.

                                              1. For a great almond croissant, go to Clear Flour Bread in the morning (they tend to sell out by noon). They make a killer pain a chocolat also. I have not found a bakery that comes close for croissants in Boston (and that specifically includes Russo's, Whole Foods, Cafe Japonaise on St Mary's in Brookline among others).

                                                For good Chinese pastry, I'd still get on a Chinatown bus and go to Dragon & Phoenix in New York before going to Ho Yuen.


                                                1. Roslindale probably has more bakeries per capita than most places and the Square & it's restaurants and bakeries have been getting a lot of press lately. I like a plain little place called Diane's Bakery on Poplar Street. Old fashioned bakery with fresh delicious pastries at a reasonable price. The bakery sports a cool "word of the day" board. This place is retro without trying.

                                                  1. Lakota has some of the best cookies I have ever had:) They are so rich you can only eat 2...I couldn't believe how good they were.

                                                    Lyndell's in Somerville is one of my all time favorites. They have great items at even better prices. Their 1/2 moon cookies are the best! I don't live there anymore so we go once and a while and pick up some. That is one great bakery.

                                                    Diane's in Rosi Sq is ok.. they actually used ot be in JP but I am really dating myself:) Bochetto's in Rosi makes great fruit filled cakes.. their pastries are just so so.

                                                    I personally did not think Fiores was that great... but that is just me.

                                                    My friend swears by the new paris bakery (I think that's the name) in Brookline.. she loves the mini eclairs and baklava.

                                                    Though I prefer the "from the scratch" baklava at Samia's in W. Rox.. a lebanses restaurant - family run.. dang she makes a good falalel!

                                                    1. Savoys on beacon near st. mary's for raspberry croissants
                                                      Mt. Auburn street, a variety of stops, for sesame cookies, almond cookies, baklava, etc (Arax, Severns, bakery across the street from Severn)
                                                      On lower Cambridge Street in Cambrdige (about three block above Courthouse Seafood and across from the Egg and Poultry shop) an Italian bakery that makes real strawberry cream cakes
                                                      Clear Flour has earned its reputation as has Iggys, Mikes and the Modern though there is no single bakery that I have found in Boston where you can go to for everything - Russos is not bad as a "generalist" stop, better than Whole Food I think.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: teezeetoo

                                                        I'm not sure about that: I've enjoyed the pies I've gotten from Russo's, and in the fall they do my beloved grapenut pudding, but all the pastries I've ever tried from there have been on a continuum from extremely underwhelming to downright nasty.

                                                        1. re: teezeetoo

                                                          The bakery that was roughly across from Mayflower Poultry has closed -- I believe it is now a tattoo parlor. I liked their pastries (very earthy) and I don't recall them having any strawberry cream cake, but it is a big loss.

                                                          Royal Pastry, which is next door to Central Bakery and near the swimming pool is still open. I am not certain what you mean by strawberry cream cakes, but they have a large variety of mostly italian inspired pastries. Royal is my go-to place for well done sheet cakes, good carrot cake, and they have excellent single-serving offerings in the fridge.

                                                          There also is a cannoli factory behind La Hacienda which is excellent. A lot of the Italian bakeries that people rave about having excellent cannolis actually buy their shells there (royal does) and you can buy w/o an account, but would need to buy quantity.

                                                          1. re: itaunas

                                                            thanks itaunas - i'm sad to see another local idiosyncratic place bite the dust but happy to try your recommendations. royal pastry here i come! have you or anybody tried the pie lady who i think is now in central square cambridge - is it petti pies? any good?

                                                        2. Clear Flour's a great pick for Brookline. The make increadible fougas (sp?) on the weekend - with fire roasted tomatoes on Sunday.
                                                          For JP, the new bakery Canto 6 that replaced Bread and Butter is fantastic! Best croissants I've had since France.
                                                          Hi Rise in Cambridge hasn't been mentioned either. A little pricy, but really good quality stuff.

                                                          1. We were sad to see Bread & Butter in JP go, but we're very happy with Canto 6! They get their bread from ClearFlour but they make the pastries themselves and they're fantastic. Great croissants (chocolate and Gruyere!) a lovely mini-quiche with roasted tomatoes and goat cheese; an addictive hazelnut and cocoa nib shortbread. And they make canneles--those mysterious little French cork-shaped sweets that look and taste like a dense, caramelized popover. I'd had them before but never really understood the charm of them--now I do.

                                                            1. Tha's odd -- every single one of those things you just mentioned is a specialty of Clear Flour as well! I wonder if their bakers are moonlighting.

                                                              1. As I recall, the owners of Canto 6 trained at Clear Flour, so some overlap would be expected.

                                                                1. Used to LOVE the scones at Panini, apricot/ginger, lemon etc, but since it morphed into Toscanini and Sons they've gone a bit downhill I think. Still better than many. Located on the Cambridge/somerville line kitty-corner to Dali (Washington Street?)

                                                                  1. I *have* to tell anyone who doesn't know yet about Cafe Cakes on 51 Galen Street in Watertown (route 16). It is Japanese-French so it is a lot like Japonais, but there is not much redundancy. The tea mousse is to-die-for, as is the berry mousse with macaroon top cake. I also really loved this caramel macaroon thing. The filling was soft like dulche de leche, not gooey. I loved everything, although the cream puff was really a custard puff (the custard was good) because there was no whipped cream in it. The prices are also good. I hope they suceed in this spot.

                                                                    1. Some places on the Cambridge side of the river: Burdick's (best desserts), Mariposa (good biscotti, cookies, scones), True Grounds (great scones, muffins, etc.), Oxford Spa (cookies).