I love old world bakeries. Whenever I visit a new city, I always look for old bakeries. I don’t care if they look dirty or grungy from the outside, or if they have outdated signs out front. Those signs are a sure “sign” that deliciousness awaits me inside. I feel good that I am supporting a family and the local economy as well as eating something that was made with pride and craft. So if you are visiting NYC or if you live here, when you eat at most of the bakeries on this list, you are supporting local families and businesses that represent the history and culture of this diverse city.
In this list, I’ve tried to include all old world bakeries in Manhattan. If I missed one, by all means, tell me about it because I’d love to go there. (I’m focusing on the more “touristy” part of Manhattan. This list doesn’t include Mexican or Dominican bakeries in Upper Manhattan, such as Bakery el Panadero, Capri, De Colores Bakery, Dyckman’s, D’Lillian’s, El Barrio, El Manantial, El Nazareno, Esmeraldo’s, Floridita, Grinis, Kenny Bakery, Las Americas, Mi Querido Mexico Lindo or Sweet Life Bakery. It also doesn’t include kosher bakery Gideon’s, Hungarian Pastry Shop, Asian bakery In & Out or Ethiopian Injera Bakery. Sounds like a bakery tour of Upper Manhattan is in order!)
I’ve written about Italian bakeries in Manhattan before in Dina’s Guide to NYC Italian Bakeries. My favorite bakeries are old school and traditional German, Jewish and Italian ones. There is only one German bakery and only one Jewish bakery left in Manhattan. (As far as I know–please tell me if there are more. There are other places to get German and Jewish baked goods, ex. Zabar’s, but not other old school bakeries. East Broadway Kosher on Grand near Kossar’s closed, but I’m not sure if it reopened? Last time I was there, it was closed.) In this list I’m including bakeries that have sweet bakery items. Following that is a list of specialty old world bakeries that make bread, knishes, bialys etc. Many of these places are cash only, so go prepared.
Moishe’s—Lower East Side, Grand Street at East Broadway, and East Village, 2nd Avenue at 7th Street, Moishe’s is my favorite bakery in the city–the quintessential bakery. I am addicted to Moishe’s. The best hamentaschen, the best black and white cookies, the best rainbow cookies. I’ve never had anything here that wasn’t delicious. It’s no frills with graffiti on the window, but who cares? I’m here for the cookies, not the decor. They do have a new sign out front, but I’m keeping this photo of the old one. I’ve sung the praises of Moishe’s many times.
Poseidon—Hell’s Kitchen, 9th Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets, At 90 years old, Poseidon is still family owned and the only Greek bakery in Manhattan, and one of the last businesses in what used to be a Greek neighborhood. Here, you can get delicious Greek goodies like baklava and cookies. The handmade phyllo dough strudels are a must-get. I’ve written about Poseidon before.
Glaser’s Bake Shop—Yorkville, Upper East Side, 1st Avenue at 87th Street, Family-owned since 1902, Glaser’s is the only German bakery in Manhattan in what used to be a German neighborhood. It still turns out amazing crumb cake, jelly doughnuts and danishes. However, it also makes American favorites like brownies too. This is an old school bakery at its best. Check out the beautiful wood interior and tile floor. I’ve written about Glaser’s before.
La Delice—Kips Bay, 3rd Avenue at 27th Street, La Delice is an old school bakery with a variety of classic baked goods and beautiful cakes. They have many colorful macarons.
Andre’s Hungarian—Midtown East, 1st Avenue at 57th Street and Upper East Side, 2nd Avenue at 85th Street, Andre’s is the place to go for traditional, handmade strudel and other Hungarian pastries and gorgeous cakes.
Ferrara—Little Italy, Grand Street at Mulberry, Ferrara, a legendary Italian pastry shop, opened in 1892 by Enrico Scoppa and Antonio Ferrara. The fifth-generation pastry shop gained fame when Enrico Caruso became a regular. Ferrara’s became well-known for its cannoli and torrone. Talk about being a kid in a candy store. I take one look at the glass case of glistening glazed fruit atop an array of pastries in a myriad of colors, and I’m mesmerized. The pastry case at Ferrara’s is a work of art. When I talk to people who’ve never been to an Italian bakery, I show them pictures of Ferrara’s. Everyone in my family will attest to Ferrara’s being the gold standard of New York Italian pastries.
La Bella Ferrara—Little Italy, Mulberry Street at Canal, is an old school bakery. Walk in here and the waft of fresh-baked cookies fills the air. Many are displayed in the usual bakery case but there’s also a table of cookies that reminds me of the dessert table at a family party.
Veniero’s—East Village, East 11th Street at 1st Avenue, Veniero’s claims to be America’s oldest pastry shop, opening in 1894. Veniero’s is also owned by Bruce Springsteen’s cousin. It has a beautiful display of traditional Italian pastries as well as a cafe.
Pasticceria Rocco—West Village, Bleecker Street near Carmine, is the last man standing in this old Italian neighborhood even though the pastry shop itself is not that old. (Rocco Generoso apprenticed with the owner of a prior bakery before purchasing it and renaming it in 1974. Now, Rocco Jr. is at the helm.) My family came from this area, lived on Carmine Street and went to Our Lady of Pompeii Church across the street. The big fat cookies in the window beckon you into the bakery, but get the cheesecake. It’s the best in the city, hands down. (Yes, better than Junior’s.)
William Greenberg Desserts—Upper East Side, Madison Avenue at 82nd Street, Rugelach, black and whites, hamentaschen, rainbow cookies and Linzers…need I say more? Oh yeah, how about black and whites in custom colors?
Orwasher’s, Upper East Side, 78th Street at 2nd Avenue, Orwasher’s opened in 1916 and was known for its Eastern European-style bread. The bakery got a new owner in 2007 who added other European artisanal breads, and there are still the same wonderful pastries. Did I mention fill-to-order jelly doughnuts and the sweetest staff in NYC?
Fay Da—various locations, While I’m not an expert in Chinese baked goods, I’ve been to many bakeries in Chinatown. Fay Da is my favorite with consistently fresh and tasty pastries.
Russ & Daughters—Lower East Side, Houston Street at Orchard Street, Celebrating 100 years this year, Russ & Daughters is a classic NYC institution. It is in this category because it specializes in smoked fish and also has baked goods like babka, rugelach and macaroons. But it also serves a bit of feminist history. As the original owner had no sons, he left his shop to his daughters, hence the name.
Kossar’s—Lower East Side, Grand Street at Essex Street, Kossar’s specializes in bialys.
Yonah Schimmel—Lower East Side, Houston Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, Yonah Schimmel has specialized in knishes for over 100 years.
Parisi Bakery—Little Italy, two locations at Elizabeth and Mott Streets, Family-owned for over 100 years, Parisi Bakery specializes in bread and deli sandwiches.
–Dina Di Maio