2012-12-05 / Restaurant of the Week

Leli's Bakery & Pastry Shop

Sweet Treats
By Teresa Barile

With the holiday season in full tilt, we thought we’d highlight a fabulous new bakery located right here on 30th Avenue in Astoria. Leli’s Bakery may be new to the area when it opened just three weeks ago, but the Darmanin Family has been baking in the U.S. since 1975, when the family emigrated from the historic island country of Malta. Imanuel or “Leli” as he is known in his native Maltese, is one of three generations of bakers. In fact, they own a successful commercial bakery in The Bronx that employs 150 people.

Leli is passionate about baking and comes in every day to bake his favorite cookies, cakes, breads, rolls and more. His daughter Natalie works tirelessly to keep the sparkling clean bakery running smoothly, constantly restocking the delectable goodies that seem to fly out the door.

Imanuel loves interacting with people and his customers love that. They also love everything he bakes, as I witnessed firsthand. So many compliments were bestowed upon him, just in the short time I was there. Blog and web feedback has been very positive too, and you can find Leli’s Bakery on FaceBook.

Most bakeries make either breads and rolls or cakes and desserts. Leli’s is adept at both, making it your one-stop shop for holiday necessities, family celebrations, or your daily bread….and coffee too! You’ll be positively dazzled at the homey, rustic interior full of sparkling display cases featuring hundreds of treats. Starting with bread, you’ll find an impressive array of white, semolina and multigrain breads in long baguettes, short, fat loaves, and round boules. The pumpernickel and rye loaves beg to be sliced and eaten with some of their delicious soups. San Francisco style sourdough makes great sandwich bread, especially when toasted. Samples of all their breads are available in a basket on the counter. I love their multigrain loaf with its hearty texture and substantial crust. Cranberry nut rolls, cinnamon or raisin Danish, fruit Danish and chocolate twists are great for breakfast especially when dunked into their delicious coffee. Leli’s baked goods not only look good, but taste incredibly good, thanks to real, fresh ingredients such as real butter instead of shortening, real almond paste, quality chocolate, nuts, fruit, natural flavorings and premium flour. The secret ingredient that has no price tag is the love and passion that goes into these hand crafted treats. I can’t resist cookies and Leli’s has one of the most inspired collections with recipes from many different countries. Madeleines from France sit alongside Florentine “lace” cookies and buttery apricot sables. You’ll find raspberry almond tartlets, almond fingers with and without chocolate, hazelnut cranberry squares, rainbow-colored petitfours, and delicate “cat’s tongue” cookies, just to name a few. Sandwich cookies filled with either white chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate will please everyone. Vanilla or chocolate “tuille” cookies melt on your tongue, while the red velvet cookie is unique, sandwiched with cream.

Moving on to cakes, Imanuel makes custom-made cakes for all occasions that are so delicious, there’s often nothing left over. Creamy, decadent cheesecake, plain, marble, or topped with fruit, is hard to resist. Leli’s makes a unique “turtle” cheesecake topped with rich caramel, pecans and chocolate for a knock out indulgence. Tiramisu cake, seven layer cakes in both vanilla and chocolate are available along with rich Red Velvet cake. Many cakes are available in a mini-size, if you don’t have a lot of people to feed. The fruit tarts and mousse cakes are out of this world too. Order your special occasion cake or child’s birthday cake with all your favorite elements, as you choose the kind of cake, cream, frosting and decorations. Cupcakes are a hot commodity these days and Leli’s makes a great assortment, in full-size and mini versions. Choose among vanilla holiday cupcakes, coconut cream, peanut butter and chocolate, oreo, M&M, carrot, Smores and more.

If you’re in the mood for a savory treat before all those sweets, don’t worry, Leli’s offers flaky croissants filled with ham and cheese, spinach and feta cheese, mushroom and gruyere and more. There are two homemade soups featured each day with varieties such as corn chowder, minestrone, chicken noodle, three bean chili, lentil and more. As soon as the holiday rush has passed, Leli’s will be introducing a full line of freshly made sandwiches, both hot and cold to enjoy. The coffee drinks are great too so stop in and grab a coffee and freshly baked Danish, muffin or scone on your way to work.

Place your holiday orders now for cakes, pies, and cookies and stop in for fresh bread on your way home. Leli’s is open seven days a week: Monday to Thursday from

7am to 9pm; Friday until 11pm; Saturday from 8am to 11pm and Sunday from 8am to 8pm. Credit cards are accepted. Your friends and family will be so impressed and delighted when you show up with a box of heaven from Leli’s Bakery. Welcome to the neighborhood!

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