Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Creme de la Creme

Our 20 favorite bakery destinations for decadent, shameless indulgence.



(page 1 of 4)


Photos by Heather Mull
 

 

Irresistibly fluffy éclairs, decadent frosted cupcakes, buttery French croissants and gooey rich chocolate brownies—these are just a few of the treats that our local bakeries do best. Our top 20 favorite destinations for indulgence range from homey neighborhood fixtures that opened in the 1920s to huge, brightly lit pastry emporiums. Try not to lick your iPad screen.

What’s especially noticeable is just how much the pastry talent has grown in Pittsburgh throughout the last decade: For proof, read our profiles of three top local pastry chefs. Excitement about the city’s great pastry scene continues to grow. For example, French native David Piquard, presently the master pastry chef at Paris 66 in the East End, will open an upscale patisserie later this year. An alumnus of the famous Parisian bakery Ladurée, Piquard has already earned a local following for his light-as-air French macarons, currently available for takeout. The city is also home to Orlando Santos, a name that probably sounds familiar to those who followed him as a contestant on Bravo’s popular show, Top Chef: Just Desserts. Even if you’re not a regular at the exclusive Duquesne Club, where he presides as executive pastry chef, you can still taste his work by ordering goods via his online shop (orlandoschocolatetreasures.com).

All in all, we think you’ll agree that when it comes to dessert, our choices in Pittsburgh are nothing short of sweet.


 

Party Cake Shop

Mt. Lebanon & Brookline
If it starts with a “C,” this bakery does it right—from coffee cake and challah to carrot-cake squares and cookies, these treats are some of the best. Progress through the alphabet to “D,” and there’s more to admire, like the very good doughnuts and Danishes. It’s thoughtful that many of the best desserts are sold by the individual portion; you can pick and choose to make sure everyone you love gets their favorite and don’t have to commit to a whole cake or pie. Selections change, so if you're set on small portions of something in particular—say, the burnt-almond torte cake, which the bakery excels at creating—call ahead.

706 Brookline Blvd., Brookline, 412/531-5322; 297 Beverly Road, Mt. Lebanon, 412/343-0101, partycakeshop.com
 

Bartram House Bakery

McMurray & Wexford
Divine sugar cookies that strike the perfect note of sweet vanilla; smooth yet tart key lime pie topped with a cloud of whipped cream; plain cheesecake that’s so decadent it makes us wonder why we ever refer to this dessert as “plain.” These are some of the treats that fill the cases at Bartram—along with homemade pies, cakes and cookies—in a display that’s downright spellbinding for any sugar lover. The glass and dark-wood interiors have the familiar polish of an upscale chain, yet the bakery is entirely family-owned—and the kitchen staff makes everything from scratch. Originally, there was a single shop, located in McMurray, but Bartram recently opened a second bakery in Wexford.

4120 Washington St., McMurray, 724/260-0702; 2000 Village Run Road, Wexford, 724/719-2442, bartramhousebakery.com


 

Vanilla Pastry Studio

East Liberty
It’s hard to take sides in the cupcake wars, but if pressed, we’d take up arms for this bakery’s red-velvet variety. Then again, everything at Vanilla is delicious, so what you choose just depends on your mood: Do you want the simple poundcake or a tropical mango-passionfruit-coconut? The insanely good buttercream frosting sets these desserts apart: To start, it’s made fresh daily. Only the best chocolate or fresh fruit is used—let’s just say April Gruver’s (see profile, below) strawberry buttercream-frosted cupcake could take down strawberry shortcake in a fight. But the cupcake bar isn’t the only feature of this pretty, bright, high-ceilinged shop—the tantalizing list of other treats includes whoopie pies, homemade cookies and chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons. You won’t leave empty-handed.

6014 Penn Circle South; 412/361-2306, vanillapastry.com

APRIL GRUVER » vanilla pastry studio
April Gruver can keep a secret. That much is obvious, considering the phone at Vanilla Pastry Studio was ringing off the hook before Big Ben’s wedding last summer, as people tried to get the scoop on exactly what types of cake she was creating for the event.

Other key things to know about Gruver: She sometimes describes herself as “the sugar fairy;” she hand-colors the white-chocolate sprinkles that adorn her desserts; and she makes one mean cupcake. This is what her shop is best known for—and with good reason: The buttercream frosting alone, made fresh daily with top-notch chocolate or fresh fruit, will make any sugar lover swoon. But let’s not forget her whoopie pies. Or poundcake.

Oh, and have we mentioned the lolly, which is one of her shop’s signature treats? Hard shells of rich milk, white or dark chocolate sit neatly on a lollipop stick and enrobe either rich custard (in flavors like chocolate-tangerine or chocolate-espresso) or decadent cheesecake (think key lime or salted-caramel).

She attributes her success in the pastry industry to her own love of eating.

“I only serve things that I would genuinely want to sit and eat," Gruver says. "That means that if something doesn’t work, I’m not afraid to throw it away. We’re very committed to quality.”

Her obsession with amazing flavor and gorgeous detail is partly a result of her great training. While attending culinary school in northern California, she began pursuing jobs in the pastry industry, eventually landing a two-year stint at California Café. From there, she went to work at Rover’s, a highly regarded French restaurant in Seattle. Following those experiences, she worked in kitchens from the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs to the Fairmont in Chicago, finally ending up in Pittsburgh.

After holding jobs as the executive pastry chef at the Duquesne Club and consulting for Six Penn Kitchen, she opened the first incarnation of Vanilla Pastry Studio in the city’s West End in 2006. Two years later, she moved to the East End, and that’s where you can visit today—and we bet you won’t leave without at least one cupcake in hand.

Sweet Tip: Around Valentine’s Day, stop in Vanilla Pastry Studio for treats like spicy chocolate fudge, passionfruit dessert and cupcakes adorned with “conversation” candy hearts made of fondant.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Get the Scoop on Up-and-Coming Crafters at Show and Sell

Taking place at Construction Junction, the spring pop-up market from Handmade Arcade will feature 30 local makers selling home decor, clothing and art.

The City's Free Grass Cutting Service is Back for Its Second Year

There’s four different ways to apply — do you qualify?

Kennywood Earns Designation as Certified Autism Center

With noise-cancelling headphones and sensory bags, park officials hope its summertime fun can be accessible for more families.

For Three Days, Sesame Street Will be in Pittsburgh

Kids can join Big Bird, Elmo and more Muppets as Sesame Workshop plans three days of events during a stop in Pittsburgh in June.

Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

The answer to a self-inflicted postseason sweep must begin with getting the players and their coach back on the same page regarding what’s required for survival in the playoffs.

Picklesburgh to Double in Size for Its Fifth Year

Nation’s top speciality food festival to spill out onto Ft. Duquesne Boulevard.

A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh says hello to Alta Via, Leo. A Public House, a new Milk Shake Factory location and more.

Is Your Pittsburgh Street on This Year's Road Repaving List?

The City of Pittsburgh has announced its street paving plan for 2019. You’re one click away from finding out if your street or route to work is on the list.

Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

PM intern Amanda Myers recounts the radio-rock adventures that life as a Downtown student has made possible.

The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The latest chapter in the Hong Kong martial-arts franchise gets a Pittsburgh release.

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The latest chapter in the Conjuring franchise concerns a sinister spirit from folklore.

Details Shine in Metallic Hip-Hop Wedding

A graffiti-decorated cake, a sequined jacket for the groom and a violinist playing hip-hop covers wowed guests at this Strip District wedding.

New Restaurants Coming to Smallman Galley and Federal Galley

Look for New Mexican cuisine, customizable chicken and more as half of the Pittsburgh Galley Group concepts change in the next few months.

Design Goes to the Dogs with BARKitecture

Featuring innovative indoor animal shelters designed by local architects and artists going up for auction, the event at PerLora raises money for Animal Friends.

The 400-Word Review: Hellboy

The cult comic character gets a reboot in this R-rated action flick.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


The City's Free Grass Cutting Service is Back for Its Second Year

The City's Free Grass Cutting Service is Back for Its Second Year

There’s four different ways to apply — do you qualify?

Comments

Kennywood Earns Designation as Certified Autism Center

Kennywood Earns Designation as Certified Autism Center

With noise-cancelling headphones and sensory bags, park officials hope its summertime fun can be accessible for more families.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh says hello to Alta Via, Leo. A Public House, a new Milk Shake Factory location and more.

Comments

New Restaurants Coming to Smallman Galley and Federal Galley

New Restaurants Coming to Smallman Galley and Federal Galley

Look for New Mexican cuisine, customizable chicken and more as half of the Pittsburgh Galley Group concepts change in the next few months.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

For those who can’t stand the idea of leaving their dogs home alone on a beautiful day, these dog-friendly stores, restaurants and bars in the Pittsburgh area welcome humans and canines alike.

Comments

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

Even novice runners can work their way up to these fun and (mildly) challenging races.

Comments


Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

PM intern Amanda Myers recounts the radio-rock adventures that life as a Downtown student has made possible.

Comments

Take Your Video-Game Habit Into the Real World at Rogue Laser Grounds

Take Your Video-Game Habit Into the Real World at Rogue Laser Grounds

The pop-up laser tag arena takes the mechanics of online video games into a undeniably cool setting.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

The answer to a self-inflicted postseason sweep must begin with getting the players and their coach back on the same page regarding what’s required for survival in the playoffs.

Comments

Pens Don't Need to Overwhelm Islanders, Just Outlast Them

Pens Don't Need to Overwhelm Islanders, Just Outlast Them

Patience, persistence and taking what the game gives is critical in Round One.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The latest chapter in the Hong Kong martial-arts franchise gets a Pittsburgh release.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The latest chapter in the Conjuring franchise concerns a sinister spirit from folklore.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Details Shine in Metallic Hip-Hop Wedding

Details Shine in Metallic Hip-Hop Wedding

A graffiti-decorated cake, a sequined jacket for the groom and a violinist playing hip-hop covers wowed guests at this Strip District wedding.

Comments

Matching Bridesmaids’ Dresses May Be a Thing of the Past

Matching Bridesmaids’ Dresses May Be a Thing of the Past

Brides choosing one (or several) different colors, but leaving the design up to the bridesmaids, help attendants feel comfortable within their own budget.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Get the Scoop on Up-and-Coming Crafters at Show and Sell

Get the Scoop on Up-and-Coming Crafters at Show and Sell

Taking place at Construction Junction, the spring pop-up market from Handmade Arcade will feature 30 local makers selling home decor, clothing and art.

Comments

Design Goes to the Dogs with BARKitecture

Design Goes to the Dogs with BARKitecture

Featuring innovative indoor animal shelters designed by local architects and artists going up for auction, the event at PerLora raises money for Animal Friends.

Comments