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Mar 13, 2010 09:34 AM

The Great Boston Pastry Hunt

As part of an ongoing quest of my own I have a crushing need to try every respectable pastry in Boston. On the list is a trek to really do some damage at Canto 6 in JP and the place in Newburyport whose name is eluding me right now.

I have one other recent positive to ad to the list. Not quite true "Patisserie" but truly amazing was the Portugese tart at Great Taste bakery in Chinatown. Absolutely the best version of this (pasteis de nata) that I have had in Boston.

Just as a refresher my list of worthy pastries in Beantown:

- Modern Pastry: Cassata, Napolean, Almond Macaroon, Turrone, Zeppole di San Giuseppe (March only) and quite a few others. Not quite world class, but very very good and certainly best of Boston in my book for depth and breadth.

- Maria's pretty similar to Modern, a bit more homey.

- Japponaise: Adzuki Bean cream puff. Truly amazing, has to be tried.

- Athan's: Chocolate Jamaica

- Pistacchio Macaroons at Mike's Pastry (the only thing I eat there)

- Tabrizi Bakery Watertown: any of their cookies, particularly the walnut macaroons and the cream puffs when they are fresh.

- Ho Yuen Ting: Coconut buns. Pretty darned far from Patisserie, but still amazing, particularly when hot out of the oven.

- Clear Flour: numerous nice items, not really patisserie, but some nice sweets.

- Iggy's: chocolate croissant, almond croissant. Some of their sweets are okay but mostly clunky (the breads are excellent).

- I still need to try the dacquoise at Flour.

- Jim's Bagels Gloucester, numerous items. Not quite world class, but really good.

- Virgilios in Gloucester: best lobster tail, period.

- Sclafani Italian Bakery Gloucester: this place seems to close at 2:00 and is closed on Sundays but they make an amazing jam-filled donut thingie that is killer when it is hot. The old school vibe is worth the trip alone.

- Donut's: Verna's, Linda's, Demet's, Kane's, and in a pinch Ohlin's (butter crunch or cider only) and their apple fritter.

- Yi Soon (these are Taiwanese and so not as sweet as most western pastries) world class, perhaps not, but decent for Boston: Sweet potato bun, cream cheese bun, cheese cake (very delicate), chocolate walnut cookies, mooncakes.

- Italian Place on Route 117 in Lynn whose name is eluding me, a few good items.

- The Cafe Belo Brazilian chain has some truly amazing iced cakes, coconut with prune filling, caramel with passionfruit, etc. at various locations. Since the Allston one burnt down (now replaced by a much smaller take out joint) I have not tried them.

On the "warning, not worth feeding to your cat", even though they LOOK good list: Cafe Vanille, Truly Jorg's and Finale.

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  1. StriperGuy, are you going to weight in before you get on the road? Since your list veers outside of Boston, I'd suggest Tripoli's in Lawrence for some lemon or chocolate ToTo's (an Italian Cookie), also real good Cassata, Napolean and Lobster tail. Also Piro's in Methuen, unbelievable whole strawberry whipped cream cake, rum baba's, Italian Ricotta Pie and a great selection of cookies and other goodies.

    1. In everett, the Elm st bakery. An amazing chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream, chocolate ganash, and filled with chocolate custard. Also, many of their "mini pastries are quite good." Staying in everett, a bakery that looks like it's in a house, I forget the name. It is on Broadway/rt99 as you come in to town off the traffic circle. Left hand side of the street. Best cannoli in the boston area. Better than modern or mikes or anyone.

      9 Replies
      1. re: HM1

        Hmmmm, these sound like two of the best tips I've had so far. I don't get so excited about cannoli, but good chocolate cake, yes. The places above are my reccos for things I find worthy all over Boston. I will drive considerable distance for good dessert. Thanks Treb and HN1 I did not know either of these places.

        1. re: StriperGuy

          If you're REALLY up for a drive, The Pocono Farm Stand in Tannersville, PA has the BEST apple crumb pie I've ever had. Closer to Boston, "Debby's Cakes" (as the locals call it - the "real" name is Creative Cakes by Debby) in Nahua, NH makes a killer chocolate truffle cake - I got one for my hubby's groom cake & everyone (including the waitstaff) loved it:
          Chocolate Truffle Cake:

          Debby's Main Page:

          I also like the chocolate torte from Guarino's in Norwood, as well as their chocolate chip cookies, which taste "Italian" with whatever flavoring they put in them (I don't know how else to describe it, but you'll know what I mean when you taste it).
          Cake Page:

          Guarino's Main Page:

          Fratelli's in Quincy is my "regular" eclair place since The Argus Bakery closed many years ago. Still can't find a place that makes banana bread,half moons, brownies,chocolate chip & butter cookies the way that they did - SIGH. I always said I'd invest in a bakery if one of their bakers ever decides to reopen.

          Fratelli's Main Page:

          Good luck on the pastry search - let me know if you ever need a "research assistant" to help. ; )

          1. re: southie_chick

            The eclairs at the Thinking Cup on Tremont St. are out of this world! The pastry is flaky, the cream divine, and the chocolate pure and dark. In fact, the cherry scones are the best I've ever had. They clearly use top ingredients. Not a typical bakery, but truly wonderful food.

            Tremont Cafe
            418 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116

          2. re: StriperGuy

            I am funny about chocolate cake and do not like most. I do happen to like the "Classic All-American" cake at Bread & Chocolate in Newton. It does have a real buttercream frosting rather than a shortening frosting, which not everyone likes, but I do in this context. It works.

          3. re: HM1

            Are you thinking Esposito's? They have a huge selection of goodies.

            1. re: HM1

              Oh yeah, Elm Street! I've only run in there for cookies after I take my son to the (ahem) dentist, but must try the other delights. I also like the Passion Fruit cake at Broadway Cafe in Everett (on Rte 99/Broadway, just past the police station).

              1. re: gimlis1mum

                I grew up around the corner of Elm Street bakery and their Italian cookies are the best around, still!

                I do love the whipped cream with glazed fruit cakes at Lumberto's in Revere too.

              2. re: HM1

                Would that be Il Pastificio? I was right by there this morning (and I love really good cannoli but don't like the second-rank stuff at all)...

                1. re: HM1

                  Elm Street Bakery cheesecake is the best I've had in a long time

                2. Country Desserts in Newton. Try the mini Rasberry turnovers and the Blueberry squares. Bread & Chocholate in Newton. They have several good items including the Donut Cupcake and the Whoopie Pie.

                  1. those Portuguese Tarts @ Great Taste rock - usually stick w/dan tat, but one night they were all out and so we got some PTs and they are super . . . .

                    great list, although I'm gaining weight just looking at it!


                    1. have you come across a good Black Forest cake at one of these bakeries?

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: nasilemak

                        Finding good pastry in Boston is like rating the food on the Titanic. For reasons that I cannot fathom, it simply does not exist. Right now the only exceptional pastry is the Adzuki Cream Puff at the Bakery Japonaise. It offers an amazing combination of light creamy goodness with textured beany moderate sweetness in a decent crust. The mixture always surprises.

                        If I want to get a super-sugar high I might try Athan's, but its pastry lacks delicacy and subtlety of taste.

                        I confess that my preference runs to classic French pastry which has disappeared since Delphine Gourmandaise shuts its doors.

                        I actually find that the Trader Joe's frozen confections (macarons, chocolate fudge cakes, etc.) are better than almost all the fresh products in Boston. Otherwise get thee to Montreal or New York, since Paris is impractical on a regular basis.

                        1. re: nasilemak

                          I'd nominate Russo's cream puffs for a place on this list, especially considering the price, which is about $1.50. We were going to do a taste off with the Clear Flour puff, but couldn't bring ouselves to spend nearly $5 on a cream puff. And at Russo's, you can pick up berries to sprinkle all over the plate... instant gratification after groceries.

                            1. re: nasilemak

                              This may sound crazy but, I've had excellent Black Forest cake from Costco.

                              1. re: nasilemak

                                Lala's Hungarian in Manchester makes what I believe to be the closest to authentic "Schwartzwalder Kirschtorte" in the Boston area.

                                1. re: cornFusion

                                  I realize that recommendations in this thread have gone pretty far afield of Boston, but I find it hard to think of 50 miles away - and in another state - as "in the Boston area." I don't see Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte on the menu on their website, though - do they usually have it or is it an occasional special?