We Need to Talk About the Baked Goods at Cavaniola’s

Photo courtesy of David Cohen

It’s hard not to notice them. You may be standing and ordering a mouth-watering sandwich or braised green beans or truffle mac n’ cheese, but your eyes are already wandering along the counter where you will pay for these items. Before you know it, you’ve added one (or more) of them to your order. Coconut layer cake, plum-pear tart, shortbread cookies—they are, individually, spectacular to taste, but arranged together are equally stunning to look at.

Cavaniola’s Gourmet in Sag Harbor has long been established as the place to go for cheese. There is virtually no cheese they sell that isn’t perfectly sourced and perfectly delicious. Their housemade take-out next door, at Cavaniola’s Kitchen (as well as their Amagansett Square shop), is a popular stop for lunch or to pick up dinner for later.

But Cavaniola’s baked goods have their own appeal, the most obvious being that they are some of the best in the Hamptons. The shop has three local pastry chefs on board, one who likes to remain anonymous (as if the mystery of how anyone can bake something this good tasting and good looking isn’t enough). Like the prepared foods, or the condiments lining the shelves, the bakery fair seems to fit in perfectly with Cavaniola’s aesthetic: artisanal, beautiful, and delicious.

There is a comfort in David Cohen’s layer cakes and key lime pies; and elegance in the rectangular fruit tarts that change with the season. Cassandra Shupp was pastry chef for Gramercy Tavern in New York and Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, and she now bakes various cookies for both the Amagansett and Sag Harbor shops.

All the offerings are small and delicate, but dense in flavor; the supply runs out by afternoon because everything is made fresh and almost daily. The tower of goodies on the marble counter—seemingly haphazardly placed—is like a work of art in and of itself, a living Dutch master still life that alters as one slice is taken. Then half-a-tart goes, a bag of cookies disappear, the last quarter of a carrot layer cake left… until it ends up going home with you.