Pastry Shops = Ocean City, NJ
I knew I loved Ocean City's retro downtown shops, but before my visit last week I didn't know about these two wonderful, throwback bakeries. They reminded me of the great Freedman's Bakery of Monmouth County, now defunct. Simple, homely birthday cakes with real icing (not that sweetened Crisco they use in grocery store 'bakeries', Italian cookies, and handmade pastries sit humbly in their cases.
My first find was Ward's Pastry, next to the Hoy's 5 and 10 cent store on Asbury Avenue in the heart of downtown. I got a cinnamon bun, not too sweet, very moist, and with the tingle of real yeast discernible in the dough. One bit of it and you wonder why Cinnabon even bothers.
The second stop was at Dot's Pastry Shop, also on Asbury but toward the South end of town near 34th. Excellent pastries and breads, and an active kitchen visible while ordering. There I had a bear claw, which was top-notch and loaded with real almonds and walnuts.