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damascus bakery and baklava

I finally went to Sahadi's last month for the first time and I really think they should introduce a member's club. I started thinking about next visit even before I reached the cashier. I really love their bulk selection, and can't think of going back to buy the fossilized dried beans at foodtown now.

Anyways, I passed by damascus bakery, and went to try their baklava and some other sweets - I think it was finger something, birdnest, etc.
I was really disappointed. The baklava didn't taste fresh at all. I could barely taste the walnut in it, and while the pastry was admittedly refined and well made, it has too many layers, the syrup inside was very thick and gooey, almost sickening. I bought 3 or 4 items, and they were all like that.
Did I buy the wrong item? It seems unlikely since that was their specialty stuff. Do they make it differently from others?
I remember the baklava I liked was lighter on pastry and filled with fresh nuts inside, and the syrup played a complementary but not dominant role. Can I find such in NYC?

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  1. As far as I know, Damascus is famous for their pita bread, and that's the only thing I buy there. I think the pastries at Oriental Pastry across the street are quite good.

    1. That's odd, I've always loved the baklava at Damascus. I've purchased it many times and even brought a collection of it to an event once to rave reviews. Granted I dont consider myself by any means a baklava expert. But always tasted great to me....and I consider it less sweet than most of the other baklavas I've tried.

      That said, the main reasons I go to Damascus are their pita (wonderful stuff...much better than what Sahadi's sells), their pastries (meat pies, spinach pies, etc), their thick hummus, and some of their other prepared dips like the walnut/red pepper one, and the hot and spicy pepper one (I forget the names of those two, one is sweet and the other is spicy, both red).

      10 Replies
      1. re: Nehna

        This sounds delicious. Any idea if they are open on Sundays? How about Oriental Pastry?

        1. re: Produce Addict

          You know, I'm not sure about sundays. I tend to go on saturdays, when I go to Sahadi's...sort of our ritual every other saturday it seems. And I've meant to check on whether they're open sundays.

          Anybody know?

          1. re: Produce Addict

            yes, Damascus Bakery is open 7 days per week. not sure about Oriental Pastry, but i *think* they are open on Sundays.

            Damascus makes wonderful dips and spreads. i can't live without the Garlic Sauce (garlic, potato, lemon, oil). the walnut/red pepper/pomegranite sauce that Nehna refers to is M'hamara (had some for lunch today).

            their baklava is hit or miss for me. i've yet to find a consistently good source for baklava in NYC. although, the most consistently good so far has been Divine Taste on 7th Avenue in Park Slope, esp. the "nut fingers". i have a particular weakness for Lebanese cashew baklava shaped like half-moons, but none has compared yet to some i got in Portland ME a few years ago.

            i also wasn't super-impressed with the baklava from Oriental Pastry across the street, except they make a decent version of a baklava-like treat that's filled with a custardy-cream, and i've had before at Ibby's Falafel in Jersey City, where the owners are Syrian.

            another thing i like about Damascus is that many of their phyllo and dough savory "pies" are available with whole wheat, which makes me feel like it's better for me.

            EDIT: and i agree that Damascus's Mamoul is awesome. i fluctuate between preferring the pistachio or the walnut. i think it depends on my mood.

            alekz

            1. re: charlie_b

              I got the Damascus muhamara once and it was too sweet for me, insipid compared with the stuff at waterfalls.
              I wish I had a relationship with the folks at the counter sufficient to assure that I am getting a cut from the freshest baklava, rather than the stuff that has been sitting around longest.Sometimes maybe the turnover isnot as fast as Id like.
              the mamoul is absolutely great, but do they actually make it themselves?? the last time I was in there I thought I saw them taking some of the mamoul (maybe just the little ones, which are NOT so good- out of a box. Damascus has a galactoboureki type thing - its usually up on the front, top case along with the savory stuff

              1. re: charlie_b

                The Damascus STORE on Atlantic Avenue is open on Sundays, but their actual BAKERY (in Williamsburg?) is not, so all of the items you buy on Sunday are at least a day old.

                1. re: charlie_b

                  I've seen those interesting dips at Damascus but don't know what
                  to put them on. Do you just eat them with pita or raw veg or are
                  there other ways? TIA

                  1. re: efdee

                    I eat them with pita mainly. They're also nice (esp the spicy one) with some of the pastries (meat pies, etc).

                    1. re: efdee

                      i put the garlic paste on just about everything ... i was so excited to find it, as i haven't stumbled across it for a decade or so (not hat i was constantly hunting for it) but i love it.

                2. re: Nehna

                  Second the rec for their incredible pita, which I agree is much better than what Sahadi's sells. The sesame seed pita and the triangle shaped ones are my favorite. Great chewiness.

                  1. re: Nehna

                    The M'hamara (pomegranite and walnut dip) is much better at Kalustyans, IMHO

                  2. Damascus also makes delicious mamoul, better than my Tata's!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: EJC

                      Mamoul? What's mamoul, s'il vous plait?

                      1. re: efdee

                        delicious shortbread-like cookies filled with walnut, pistachio, or dates.

                    2. Trying to understand what benefit you might derive if Sahadi had a member's club. Perhaps you could explain.

                      1. Hmm...I went to Damascus for baklava just before Thanksgiving and found it absolutely delicious, some of the best stuff I've had.