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 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
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.