If you’ve longed for an upmarket patisserie in Montclair, look no further, for a delicious slice of Paris has served itself up on the eminently revisitable Church Street, the city’s only pedestrianized shopping area.
In a smart, minimalist space formerly occupied by Terra Tea Salon, a plethora of eye candy will greet you in the display case of Petit Paris French Pastry in the form of macarons, macarons, ooh, la la! macarons. In whatever flavor your heart desires. Lavendar honey, strawberry, raspberry, mint, vanilla, coffee, cherry, dark chocolate, mango, blood orange, zesty lemon, jasmine green tea, rose, salty caramel and hazelnut chocolate.
Each of these dainty meringue beauties, measuring just over an inch in diameter, (and likely adding that much to your girth upon observation alone) will set you back $2.75. At this price, you will want to linger over those precious bites.
Zesty lemon and blood orange were both tangy, attractively though unnaturally bright yellow and, well, blood-orange respectively, and both with robust and pleasant citrus flavor. My favorite was the very lavendar macaron with honey-flavored buttercream – the flavor and scent were spectacular and the color rather pleasing.
Charming macarons aside, the best sellers at Petit Paris, which opened on August 1, are the croissants, straight up or stuffed with chocolate (pain au chocolate) or almond paste (croissant aux amandes), priced $2.50 to $3.00. Wash them down with fresh-brewed coffee, tea, or iced coffee.
Other luxurious temptations will glint and wink at you, too. Eclairs in chocolate, coffee and vanilla, which are $3.60 apiece, or the pretty lemon tart, with a chocolate umbrella drizzled over it, which is $5.50. A luscious Napoleon studded with raspberries is $6,00, as are the lemon and pistachio cake (heavenly!), hazelnut chocolate ganache (the triple-layered cake in the slideshow below) and the majestic chocolate pyramid mousse, in which is embedded a chocolate heart.
If you walk in slightly peckish, you will be famished after trying a macaron or two. Luckily, Petit Paris, owned by Limi Maldonado and Baptiste Chigot, both 27, who moved to Baristaville recently from Paris, also serves a broad range of baguettes, sandwiches and quiches (Lorraine, chèvre/goat cheese or salmon), with salad on the side, for under $8.00.
There are four choices of panini and six of baguettes, with the namesake Petit Paris baguette being the most popular – stuffed with brie, prosciutto and walnut; the arugula and goat cheese baguette comes in a close second. The Champs Elysees is highly recommended – a towering baguette layered up with chicken, bacon, eggs, lettuce and mayo – a hearty choice for breakfast or lunch. The top panini seller is vegetarian, piled with zucchini, eggplant, sun dried tomatoes, red pepper, parmesan, pesto and mozzarella.
Verdict: Very tasty. Working out a few new-business kinks. A tad pricey but definitely worth visiting.
Here’s a petite interview Baristanet did recently with Maldonado and Chigot, who live in Verona with their two-year-old daughter, Eleyne:
Are both of you the owners of Petit Paris? How did the idea come about?
The business is owned by me and Limi. My father was a baker in France and we had this common ambition to open a French bakery.
Do you run the business on your own? How have you been doing since you opened on Aug 1?
Yes we run the business, and we have been doing pretty well. Even better than we expected.
Do you bake on the premises? How many chefs do you have?
Our current bakery is located in 10 Church Street and we have two chefs; it depends on the day.
A lot of display space is devoted to macarons. Can you tell us why? How many do you sell a day?
This is because the macarons are a beautiful and colorful product, and it’s part of the French culture. It’s what we wanted to bring to Montclair.
Visitors to Petit Paris have said your wares are rather expensive. How do you justify the high prices?
All the macarons are made by hand and it’s gluten free, the ingredients are expensive, almond powder and meringue, and it’s a gourmet product. It takes time and a lot of experience to make good ones.
What’s the most popular thing that you sell?
Most popular products would be the macarons, croissant, almond croissant and sandwiches
What do you recommend that people buy?
Definitely gotta try the macarons – salted caramel or dark chocolate or vanilla, our sandwiches and quiches.
What plans do you have for Petit Paris, going forward?
For winter, we will sell fondue au chocolat (fruit dipped in melted chocolate), gift baskets, and maybe next year, crepes.
Petit Paris French Bakery
10 Church Street
Montclair, NJ 07042
973 746 0288