Jenna Turner went through the wringer after she opened her shop, which she originally called SugarPlum Bakery, in 2001. A lawsuit brought by a similarly named outfit forced a change. She rebranded as Susina (new signage, new packaging), just as her pastry chef decamped for San Francisco. But Turner stuck with and triumphed in her plan for a European-style café that offered hearty breakfast pastries alongside elegant glazed fruit tarts, apple and pear tartins, layer cakes, and fairy-size cookies, some of them no larger than buttons. Nothing, though, beats the caloric insouciance and textural wonder of Susina's individual banana cream pies, glorious whipped paeans to cholesterol set in chocolate-lined short-crust shells. Oh, the cookies. Fairy-size pipings of marzipan dotted with fruit, tiny baci di damas, bitty almond-flaked balls bursting with Amarena cherries, fig and apricot tarts, croissants, focaccia sandwiches. Perfect coffee. The place has 15 tables, and it's true-blue Italian right down to the tiles in the vanilla-scented bathroom.
Best Dessert Shop, July 2005
Cookies, cakes, and pies—these are not, strictly speaking, necessities. They're the single-use luxuries we use to toast success, numb misfortune, or, put simply, make ourselves happy. Susina Bakery takes this responsibility seriously and ups the ante: The place, designed like an old-world French pastry shop, is exuberant. The glass-fronted cases are filled with kiwi- and strawberry-topped tarts, chocolate tortes shining with decadence, cheesecakes infused with fresh mandarin oranges, and cakes drunk with figs. The banana cream pies are individual size, and the croissants are quite possibly the best in the city, emerging from the rotating racks of ovens visible from the counter. We love the coffee and, especially, the tiny cookies—macaroons, vanilla wafers, biscotti, marzipan squiggles—that make ideal dinner-party gifts, as long as you don't polish them off en route. The walls are lined with giant jars of imported candies, and all sorts of specialty accoutrements are on display. The real confection in the operation is omnipresent owner Jenna Turner, who seems to know all her customers and asks after their pets by name. Her aunt Jackie is a tarot card pro and does readings by appointment. Have a seat at one of the bistro tables and look to the future.