Instructed in the ways of the pastry by her Sicilian “crazy, baking grandmas” and having learned a thing or two from her husband's bakery-owning family in Lebanon, Natalie Zarzour
knew her way around a rolling pin. But after 10 years of toiling in the restaurant business, she was tired of working for other people. So when friends begged her to stop giving away her scrumptious cakes and start a business already, the groundwork was laid for Pasticceria Natalina.
Pistachio-green walls offset pastry cases filled with pastel-hued delicacies. The pink rosewater rice pudding and mint-colored tassatina (layered sponge cake topped with citrus glaze and draped in marzipan) seem plucked from Monet's springy palette. In the open kitchen, Zarzour's husband, aunt, mother and nephew whip up fresh, made-with-love confections like the tazza di ciccolato, a chocolate tart filled with lemon custard and adorned with chocolate butterfly wings. Also on the menu: baba al'run con panna monata, rum-soaked sweet breads filled with homemade whipped cream; bombolone, fluffy Italian donuts stuffed with custard; coffee cake topped with pine nuts and baked with an entire stick of vanilla; and gele di melone, fresh honeydew melon pudding.
Zarzour's business model places quality over quantity and forbids substitutions, which means there's no Cool-Whip-like fillers in the pastries and using authentic ingredients imported from the Mediterranean.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg