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Truly excellent pastries?

I'm on the quest for some really stellar pastries for my husband's birthday tomorrow - he has requested a bunch of his favorite pastries in lieu of cake...but we have yet to discover any bakeries that he feels fits the bill.

The quest:
Cream puffs - light, fluffy, and a custard-y filling rather than whipped cream. I've been steered toward Beard Papa's, but would probably be going to the Hollywood and Highland location - anyone know if these fit the bill?
Cannoli - I'm going to try Monte Carlo Deli in Burbank, because we've heard good things, but other suggestions welcome. Looking for not too sweet filling and authentic - chocolate chip or pistachio is fine, but not dipped in chocolate.
Eclairs - pate a choux, custard filling, chocolate icing - none of this whipped cream-filled, caramel covered stuff.
Napoleon - same requirements - puff pastry, not cake layers; custard not whipped cream; white or brown chocolate on top, but not caramel or mocha or the like
And if I can find them - sfogilatelle. That's for me. =) I haven't found a good one since I left NY.

We're near Burbank, but will be heading down to Disney for a few hours tomorrow as well, so Burbank, Studio City, Sherman Oaks areas are great, as are really anywhere easily accessible off the 5 or the 101 - I'm not too familiar with anywhere that's not Hollywood or the SFV, but since we'll be passing through the whole Southland...

Thanks, chowhounders!

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  1. This ain't near Burbank, but Patisserie Chantilly in Lomita makes the best cream puffs I've ever had in LA. IMHO, Beard Papa's isn't in the same league. PC is the classic French-inspired Japanese patisserie, and they put a lot of focus in everything they make. On my last visit a few months ago, they offered three different types of cream puff fillings: vanilla pastry cream, black sesame cream, and chocolate. I could swear they were supposed to offer a green tea cream as well but I can't confirm that.

    I know Lomita is a huge stretch but keep this one in your roledex. Since your husband is nutso about pastries, you both should give this place a try some time. Just a tip - no matter where you end up going, bring a decent-sized ice chest with enough cold packs of some sort to keep your pastries cool for the ride home. You might also bring some larger plastic bags to keep your pastries from getting wet.

    1. Almost forgot the link:

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      Patisserie Chantilly
      2383 Lomita Blvd., #104, Lomita, CA 90717

      1. You'll be able to find a few of your items at Porto's (Burbank or Glendale locations). I've had the eclairs and the napoleons...very, very good!
        The cannolis at Claro's Italian Markets are also good. It's a chain with locations throughout southern California.
        Good luck on your sweet quest!

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        Porto's Bakery
        315 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203

        Porto's Bakery
        3614 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505

        Claro's Italian Markets
        101 W Whittier Blvd, La Habra, CA

        6 Replies
        1. re: attran99

          I haven't been to Porto's yet because I'd heard they were overly sweet (in general, not the eclairs, etc. specifically) and tended toward cake-i-ness. Not true?

            1. re: thursday

              Simihound is right...I'm not one for overtly sweet dessert...it overwhelms my palate and I can never finish eating anything too sweet. Porto's is just the right amount of sweet, and the flavors are very well balanced. So long as you're not getting cake...which eclairs and Napoleons are not, you won't have to worry so much. But I do enjoy their tres leches cake...one of the finest executions ever of the traditional hispanic desserts....not at all cake-y to me.

            2. re: attran99

              I personally wouldn't consider Porto's "truly excellent" as the OP requests. I find most of their offerings to be good to very good. Their strength is their QPR - quality-to-price ratio.

              1. re: bulavinaka

                Just trying to help the OP and stay within the locational boundaries :) It's not going to be easy for them to travel to the OC via Lomita...and especially on a national holiday when most small businesses are closed. Which also reminds me...it would probably be a good idea to call places to see if they are open tomorrow. Sorry, didn't think of it earlier.

                1. re: attran99

                  I certainly understand and agree with making recs that will work with the OP's constraints/situation. I just wanted to add that while Porto's most definitely deserves mention, one shouldn't expect artisan-quality goods - I just got the impression that the OP is looking for truly excellent renditions of those items that she listed. And to agree in some form, Porto's is very respectable given their prices.

            3. Claro's = Cannoli+ Napoleon+Sfogilatelle
              Sorrentos = frozen Sfogilatelle you bake at home
              Eagle Rock Italian bakery = Cannoli and maybe eclairs possable napoleon also

              Sarno's Italian Bakery RIP you could have gotten all those things there!

              1. i agree with recs for porto's and claro's... i'd also suggest hitting Nata's Pastries in Sherman Oaks
                http://www.nataspastries.com/store_me...

                2 Replies
                1. re: Emme

                  I've found that with Nata's, one should stick with the Portuguese specialties. The standard bakery stuff is pretty mediocre.

                  1. re: Emme

                    Oh mana are the nata's great, get the almond filled and the regular and the chocolate.

                  2. An update for any 'hounders doing a search -

                    We ended up going with the cannoli and eclairs from Monte Carlo Deli in Burbank. The eclairs are from Eagle Rock Italian Bakery; I'm not sure if the cannoli are in-house or Eagle Rock.

                    Cannoli = very very good. We got traditional with chocolate chips, though they also have an "imported" that looked like it had candied orange. Not a fan of fruit with chocolate, but the filling looked even better than the ones we got, so I may have to try that one next time. Not too sweet, crisp shell.

                    The eclairs were good, but not great. They had whipped cream on top of the chocolate icing, which was too sweet and overkill, but the custard filling was just right. We picked them up at around 11 a.m. and they were already starting to get a bit soggy, so early as possible is best for freshness. Since we've had an impossible time finding good eclairs in the ten years we've lived in L.A., however, I'd give these a definite recommend - the recipe was right on the money, I'd just scrape off the whipped cream and buy them for breakfast.

                    La Habra was just too far to go to, so we didn't get the Napoleons or sfogilatelle, and DH was still hesitant to try Porto's because he finds most Latin bakeries to be too sweet [I showed him the posts below and everything! I'll get him for my birthday in a few weeks...=) ]

                    As for the cream puffs, he decided to just go with frozen ones from Trader Joe's - which it turns out they've discontinued until the holidays. So we got some frozen ones from Ralph's which were, of course, pretty subpar when you're looking for excellence, but fine after a long day of Disneyland...I think they'd be nice in a croquembouche or something else in which they are covered in sauce.

                    So the search really continues...I'm flabbergasted that in a city with this many people there are so few truly excellent pastry shops!! But i guess everyone out here is always on a diet... =)

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: thursday

                      Forgot to add - Thank you for the Claro's suggestion, btw. I thought it would be fine to jump off the 5, but DH was worried about lines at Disney since he'd forgotten it was a holiday, which is why he decided any further delays weren't worth it. We'll have to try it next time.

                      1. re: thursday

                        I just bought cannoli shells today and gonna do my own cannoli saturday.

                      2. re: thursday

                        >>I'm flabbergasted that in a city with this many people there are so few truly excellent pastry shops!!<<

                        They're out there - I think given the constraints that you were under along with the holiday and specific choices you requested , this all put a limit on how many recs you'd get. I'm in the Westside and pretty regularly go to the South Bay and to the San Gabriel Valley less often. I have my favorites in these areas, and there are plenty. When it comes to the areas that your route took you, I'm not familiar with much. On your next go-around, give yourself a wider breadth and timeline - you'll be well-rewarded. :)

                        1. re: thursday

                          My experience has been that Japanese & Latin bakeries tend to be less sweet.

                          1. re: Burger Boy

                            I'm going to agree with Burger Boy on the Japanese bakery notion (haven't tried enough Latin ones to vouch for that), and add in the Chinese/Vietnamese bakeries, too. I've had pastries/cakes from Chinese/Vietnamese bakeries since I was little and have never had anything so cloyingly sweet as the normal American bakeries. The Vietnamese version of buttercream is, by far, less sweet than traditional buttercream...and tastier, too!

                            1. re: attran99

                              The Japanese & French are French inspired, therefore less sweet in general.