There was a time when Hungarians were an enormous part in the New York City food scene. They were the top restaurateurs at places like The Four Seasons and Café Des Artistes, and they ruled Second Avenue with one tiny restaurant after another vying to be king of Paprikash.
Finding a Hungarian restaurant today on the East Coast is not easy. I pretty much said goodbye to ever having a good Esterhazy Cake or Dobos torte again. Imagine my surprise when a superb Hungarian bakery opened up five miles from my house in Connecticut.
Two brothers who are well-schooled and serious in middle European pastry-making run Café Dolce. Making Hungarian pastries is not a job for the beginning chef; just the hard caramelized glaze on top of a multilayered Dobos Torte would send many weekend cooks screaming to safety. For Zolton and Norbert, who run the place, there are no shortcuts. From the jam-filled cookies to the apricot or farmer cheese crepes, this is Hungarian cooking at its most folk-like level and the highest most intricate confections.
Café Dolce, in a strip mall in Norwalk, is much more fun inside then out. It is easy to drive by; the name alone sounds like the 10,000th Italian bakery in this area. Inside you will gasp at the beautiful pastries, you will be made to feel very welcome by the charming counter girls, and you can bask in the cool coffeehouse vibes of the place. The coffee is some of the best I have tasted (and I just got home from Seattle).
I was so carried away with it all that I blurted out to Norbert that I was of Hungarian descent. “Yes, I know,” he said bluntly.
“How?” I asked.
“Because you said Dobos correctly!” If you too want to pronounce it right and become a friend of Norbert’s say “dough-bowsh”!