Cuisine Scene: Bakeries
There’s no cookie-cutter formula for Long Beach’s variety of independent bakeries (other than the fact that they all smell like heaven) whether they specialize in multi-tiered wedding cakes, oversize breakfast muffins, crusted loaves of sourdough, or baked goods inspired by diverse heritage.
Here’s a taste of local bakeries that follow the old adage that everything tastes better when it’s made with love.
With the aroma of baking bread and vanilla combined with French ambiance, Alsace Lorraine Bakery (4334 Atlantic Ave.) has a more than 70-year history in Long Beach. A tradition in fine pastries since its founding in 1947 by a German immigrant and his wife, some of the original recipes are still used today. If you’re looking for incredible baked goods, Alsace Lorraine has the full spectrum – from chocolate parfaits to croissants to weddings cakes, it’s a one-stop shop that always gets it right.
The most popular pastry made by Colossus Bread (4716 2nd St.) in Belmont Shore is the Kouign-Amann, a miniature French caramelized butter cake that is as complex as it is decadent, which is a good way to describe Colossus Bread in general. The chef-driven bakery sells hot loaves and pastries using sustainably sourced and seasonal herbs, fruit, vegetables and grains created by owner and Long Beach native Kristin Colazas Rodriguez, served with coffee roasted by her husband, Nick Rodriguez. Their specialties are sourdough breads and classic French and Italian pastries, and they also make gorgeous gourmet pizzas and sandwiches.
A favorite among downtown residents and workers, Doly’s Delectables (245 E. Broadway) makes some of the best croissants around. Located on the ground floor of a historic office building, Doly’s serves up French inspired pastries like macrons, eclairs, and pain au chocolat baked fresh in the early morning hours. Be sure to try the almond croissant and grab some coffee while you’re at it. For the experimental coffee drinker, try the “Java Jumper” – soy milk, espresso, honey, peanut butter, and banana. Or, go for an old school cup of joe. The café also has a menu of breakfast foods and sandwiches and salads for lunch.
With loaves that are delicately patterned inside and out, Gusto Bread (2710 E. 4th St.) on Long Beach’s Retro Row got its start as a hobby with a little wood-fired oven and some fermented wild yeast that grew into a business fueled by passion for bread making. Owner Arturo Enciso and his partner Ana Belén add a dash of strong Spanish influence into everything they make, giving Gusto Bread its unique flavor. The panaderia organica serves intentionally rustic masa madre and pan dulce with seasonal offerings like summertime orejas made with pulverized heirloom hibiscus as well as pastries filled with yellow peach and Mexican vanilla bean jam.
Baked breads, pastries and authentic Greek fare with a California twist is on the menu at Pietris (5000 2nd St.). The family-owned bakery and café in Belmont Shore is where locals pack the house for breakfast – be sure to ask for the baklava pancakes “titan style” for some extra sweetness. The Greek-style coffee drinks are excellent and strong, too, just like they are in the Mediterranean. And, since coffee and dessert are a natural combination, don’t miss their homemade gelato. Pietris also makes custom cakes, including for weddings.
Businessman Ron Kleijn has one sweet job as the owner of Rossmoor Pastries (2325 Redondo Ave.) in Signal Hill, where the beloved specialty bakery and custom cake shop was founded in 1961 and has become a timeless generational tradition for weddings, birthdays and other special occasions. The towering tiered wedding cakes in the showroom — as well as creative ones, such as those shaped like Cinderella fairy tale pumpkins — are the showstoppers, but Rossmoor Pastries does a lot more than that with its signature buttercream frosting. They can also put photos on cookies or cakes for any occasion.
Saints & Sinners Bakeshop
The artful hands at Saints & Sinners Bakeshop (595 Pine Ave.) have fun in the kitchen making ornate custom designs out of frosting. Imagine cupcakes topped with realistic flowering succulents and confections painted with edible versions of Baby Yoda! Everything looks as good as it tastes, promises founder Traci De La Torre, who works alongside family members at the independent shop. The bakery is named after a song by the band Flogging Molly, and the scone recipes are inspired by those served in Ireland.
Set your sights and your taste buds on the biggest and best muffins ever made at Sweet Jill’s (5001 2nd St.) in Belmont Shore. The cinnamon twists also are epic, and they’ve kept the little shop smelling like the quintessential bakery for more than 30 years. Sweet Jill herself, Jill Pharis-Yeakel, fills the display case with a lovely selection of pies, cookies, lemon bars and other seasonal treats, but it’s most often the oversize breakfast pastries, including gorgeous layered coffee cakes, that make people walking on 2nd Street stop and indulge.