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Tasty Treats on the Upper East Side

Get Your Cookies, Cakes, and Brownies at These Upper East Side Bakeries

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Glasers' Brownie

An assortment of goodies from Glaser's

Wendy Zarganis


Glaser’s Bake Shop

1670 First Avenue at 87th Street
(212)-289-2562


Glaser’s makes my favorite brownie in the world. This brownie will distract you from your problems, even your joys, because your senses are so consumed by its silky smooth chocolate perfection.

The Glaser family has run their bake shop since 1902. Three generations later, the Glasers’ sincere love of the neighborhood equals their love of baking.

“We still see the same families come in here,” says Herb Glaser who co-owns the bakery with his brother, John. “One customer, Winnie, she’s 96. She comes in all the time. And she’ll let me know if I’ve raised the price on anything.”

Although Herb and John grew up working part time in the bake shop and learning the secrets to their family’s outstanding cakes and baked goods through osmosis, Herb had vastly different and almost counterintuitive career plans when he was in college. “I wanted to be a dentist,” he says nonchalantly, though I could tell as he spoke, his creative mind was conjuring up scrumptious desserts that go against everything the American Dental Association stands for.

Black and White cookies, dessert bars, the aforementioned enchanting brownies and handcrafted cakes are all reasons to come by this First Avenue beacon for baked goods and old-fashioned New York ambiance.


Martha Frances Cheesecake

1707 2nd Avenue between 88th & 89th St.
212-360-0900

I really wanted to like it here, even with its dingy awning, dwarfed by the bright yellow “Elaine’s” sign of the landmark Second Avenue restaurant a few feet away. With three Starbucks viciously encroaching in the vicinity, I try to support the underdog for my sugar needs.

I went to Martha Frances on several occasions hoping to feel a cozy, neighborhood vibe. Mercurial owner Jan Vascarino has a cult-following among older denizens of the Upper East Side who come for her homemade cheesecakes (literally homemade, Vascarino bakes out of her apartment down the street). Martha Frances’ 7” cheesecake runs for a market-value $28, and the regally priced 9” one is $53. I called Martha Frances several times, wanting to ask Vascarino what was the secret ingredient that called for the significant price increase, but she never returned calls for an interview. (Note: as of this printing, only the 7” cheesecake is being sold)

If you’re looking for a cup of coffee ($1.62-2.11) and a tasty cookie ($2.50) or even some delicious banana pudding, you’ll find it here, but don’t necessarily expect cheery conversation. You might get a frosty glare if you linger at one of the tables to finish your coffee – even if you’re the only customer in there. Conversely, you might get asked to “watch the store” by a frenetic Vascarino as she whisks out of the store with a “be right back.” (It’s up to your moral fiber to not walk out the abandoned store with a mudpie and the cash register.)

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