Paloma the Bakery - Gastro Obscura

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Gastro Obscura

Paloma the Bakery

This nondescript coffee shop conceals one of the wildest patisseries in New York City.  

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From the outside, one could be forgiven for mistaking Paloma Coffee & Bakery for another generic coffee shop strung along Nassau Avenue. But step inside and a few critical differences start to emerge. First of all, there are the coffee beans—all of which are roasted in-house and sourced from small, fair-trade farms, many of which the owners visited personally. 

Then, there’s the pastry case. Most of New York’s coffee shops source their baked goods from three megabakeries, all of which churn out perfectly serviceable, yet unremarkable scones, croissants, and danishes. In place of mass-produced viennoiserie, you’ll find pistachio-dusted pain suisse that looks like what Zaha Hadid might whip up while moonlighting as a master pastry chef . 

Paloma’s bountiful  attention-to-detail comes from the fact that it started as a small-scale passion project. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Reuben Villagomez put out an ad for a pastry chef. Alexander Zecena, a veteran of Chez Panisse and The French Laundry, answered the call. 

Their ambitions stretched far beyond the cramped kitchen andtiny window they used to dole out espresso. By 2022—though their space remained l small—regulars began to notice oddball, extravagant creations in the window, such as a towering, multitiered, sprinkle-encrusted birthday cake, seemingly for no reason at all.

Fast forward to 2024: the joint has graduated to a full-scale bakery. And just as the coffee shop conceals the bakery’s presence, so too do the rotating permutations of laminated dough here conceal their complexities . You’d never know, just by looking, that each ham and cheese croissant is filled with Manchego, 12-month-aged Serrano jamón, and exactly 12 rum-soaked golden raisins, in honor of the 12 grapes eaten for luck on Spanish New Year.

Nor would anyone guess that to make the Reuben croissant, the kitchen brines American Wagyu for 14 days, smokes it for 18 hours, and then layers it with Gruyère and sauerkraut. The sweet croissants go just as hard, from pairings such as yolk-rich brûléed custard, brownie batter, and salted caramel, to mango ganache, toasted meringue, macadamia cream, passion fruit, and micro cilantro. 

If there’s one thing we don’t recommend, it’s assuming you’ll be able to order that thing you didn’t get next time. Many of Paloma’s glorious combinations are on the menu today, gone tomorrow..

Know Before You Go

Paloma currently has three branches, all in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Many of the pastries are only available on weekends at the Nassau Avenue location, where they’re baked. The most coveted specials tend to sell out by early afternoon, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.

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June 3, 2024

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