Perhaps the most important essay ever written on the concept of masterpieces was by Gertrude Stein, the ex-patriot living in Paris in the 1920s. She was that avant-garde poet who befriended all the great writers and painters of her time and the one who wrote the poem, “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.”
Ms. Stein wondered throughout her essay why there were so few masterpieces in art, music or literature. Good question. There are few masterpieces and that goes for restaurants as well.
In Williston Park one could argue that Hildebrandt’s is a masterpiece of a restaurant and so is La Parma. And if you really want to experience a hands down, undeniable, and unforgettable masterpiece of a bakery shop I can direct you. Get in your car and travel up Roslyn Road for 3.7 miles. Make a right at the clock tower and slowly drive up the road until you see that big viaduct. But before you go under it look to your left and you will see a quiet little sign that says Diane’s Bakery. Make a left, park under the viaduct and get ready for something very special.
When you open the door the first thing you will see is a bake shop that looks like it belongs in Paris. High ceilings, wide plank floors and the display cases are all glass and wood and wonderful. I was amused to see that on their Web page they offhandedly mentioned that the store was designed by Diane’s brother Albert. This place looks like it was designed by a master craftsman.
The place has that ‘it’ factor, which again is something tough to define but you know it when you see it. I always feel happy and very good when I step in the door.
And we haven’t gotten to the baked goods yet. Now honestly, I don’t know why I love perfect things so much. As an example, when I go to Venice I stay at the Cipriani. My father would always say to me “Tommy, I guess you like to live like a millionaire.” Maybe so. I just say I have great taste.
Let me describe the perfect cakes that await you behind all that glass and wood. My favorite thing there is their marble cake. Now that doesn’t really sound so fancy does it? What could be so special about a marble cake? But I would travel a very long way to buy this cake.
The girl behind the counter said the baker’s name was Mario. She didn’t know his last name, but I wish she did. He deserves lots and lots of praise.
So what’s his secret? The counter girl said it was that everything is made fresh every day. I am sure this is so.
She also said that they had secret and unique recipes. I am sure this is so as well. But this is not the secret. The secret is, and I guarantee this, the secret is that these things are made with love.
I do not care what culinary school Mario went to. I do not care what the special recipes are. The only way to make a cake this good is if you care a great deal about it. It’s like when Harry’s kid in Harry’s Deli worked in his place one summer before he went to law school. He made me the perfect BLT. How did he do this? This kid cared about the sandwich he made me.
Now let’s not stop with the marble cake. I did not get to interview the owner Diane Margaritis or her husband John Durkin so I was left to sit by my lonesome and sample some baked goods.
I tried their chocolate cluster. So rich and so good. I sampled their Lindsor tart cookies. Perfect texture. When I eat these things I understand how food can be so addictive. Thank god they are not here in Williston Park. I would be fatter then I already am.
So do yourself a favor on some weekend and get in your car, travel up Roslyn Road past Gerry Park, make that right at the clock tower and stop at 23 Bryant Road under the viaduct. Then get ready for a little bit of heaven on earth.
I have heard that they also have an Italian restaurant right next door.
Here’s hoping Diane and John like this piece and send me a special invite to try out the place. If it’s anything like Diane’s Bakery I am going to become one fat, happy writer.