Padoca Bakery isn’t your typical pastry shop. The Manhattan delight offers a mix of Brazilian and Israeli specialties thanks to pastry chef Rachel Binder and owner Marina Halpern.
After meeting at Maialino restaurant where Binder used to work, Brazilian-born Halpern reached out to her about a year later proposing the idea of starting a bakery together. It didn’t take much convincing and Padoca (São Paulo reference for neighborhood bakery) opened in July 2015.
“We basically both wanted something that reminded us of home; warm, welcoming, fun and sort of new American with a twist,” Binder said.
More than a year since its opening, the Upper East Side bakery has customers coming back for treats they won’t find just anywhere. The most popular item is the Pão de Queijo (PDQ), a crispy Brazilian cheese bread with a soft inside that happens to be gluten-free.
“You can’t imagine how many people come in every day and ask us, ‘Do you have anything that’s gluten-free.’” Binder said. “It’s really taken off; people love it.”
The list of favorites goes on. There’s Romeo and Juliet babka (yeast dough), which includes two items Brazilians believe are the perfect pairing: guava and cheese. Customers also rave about the babka with chocolate and dulce de leche filling (Binder’s favorite), zucchini walnut bread, scones and chocolate chip cookies. All these can be enjoyed with a medium roast from Nobletree Coffee, a Brazilian coffee with a roastery in Brooklyn.
Binder, who was born in Toronto and raised in Jerusalem, admitted the transition from a restaurant to the bakery hasn’t been simple. In the restaurant world, she said, the day usually revolves around lunch or dinner leaving workers busy for just a few hours. The same can’t be said for her day at Padoca Bakery where she starts around 4am and doesn’t stop baking all day. As for the busiest time of day? “You just never know.”
“I wasn’t expecting it to be so different but it really is,” she said. “It’s been a learning experience for me; it’s fantastic.”