BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
For a unique twist on classic desserts, check out Buttah bakery, located a short walk from the DeKalb Avenue L train station at 377 Onderdonk Ave., between Stockholm and Stanhope streets, in Ridgewood.
First opened in December, Buttah is the brainchild of local sisters and Christ the King High School alums Kristen and Stacey Viola.
The Viola sisters were born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Stacey handles the many business and financial aspects of the bakery, while her sister Kristen is busy concocting recipes and desserts in the kitchen.
Kristen first discovered her passion for baking back in high school during weekends spent at her grandmother’s side learning how to make cherished family recipes.
“I come from a family of big bakers,” she said.
Kristen’s hobby eventually evolved into a successful at-home business. After nearly four years, she decided to take her passion for baking to the next level and began the process of opening up a brick-and-mortar bake shop.
“It was time to just do it,” she said.
Buttah is housed within a bright and airy storefront directly across the street from St. Aloysius Church. The brushed steel countertops and glossy white subway tile-lined walls give the shop a vintage 1950s look. Large silver wire whisk pendant lamps and an ornate doorbell that reads, “Press for Cake” create a fun, playful vibe.
Electric lilac chairs and marble cafe tables give a pop of color to the storefront windows. Cupcakes are artfully arranged on a collection of vintage jadeite and pastel milk glass cake plates. A bold pink neon sign with the shop’s logo, crafted locally by Robbie Ingui of Artistic Neon in Ridgewood, illuminates the wall behind the counter.
Kristen’s Italian-American heritage inspired many of the delicious offerings at Buttah, including the Sesame Cookies ($1.75), which are based on her Aunt Mary’s recipe. “She’s been making them since we were kids,” Kristen said.
One of the most popular offerings at Buttah is the classic Charlotte Russe ($3). The New York City version of the dessert was sold in candy shops and luncheonettes during the 1940s and ‘50s.
“Customers either remember them and it brings back memories, or they have no idea what it is and want to try it,” Stacey said.
The Charlotte Russe at Buttah is true to the original, combining a rich yellow sponge cake base and jam swirl topped with fresh whipped cream and a whole Maraschino cherry. The dessert is served in a little scalloped paper cup and, according to Kristen, is to be eaten “like a push-pop.”
Other popular desserts include the pecan-encrusted red velvet cupcake ($3), coconut cream cupcake ($3) and the Brooklyn Blackout cupcake ($3), which is filled and topped with homemade chocolate pudding and coated in chocolate cake crumbs. The shop also takes special custom cake orders, and can render almost any cupcake flavor in cake form.
In addition to dessert, Buttah also features many breakfast and brunch items. Their savory bacon, cheddar and chive scones and blue cheese, honey and date scones are baked fresh daily. They also serve up buttery slices of crumb cake to hungry morning crowds.
Buttah uses fresh, local ingredients, such as 11385 Honey from Wilk Apiary in Glendale, in their baked goods. They also serve drip coffee from Irving Farm, freshly roasted upstate.
The Violas chose Ridgewood because the close-knit community reminded them of their own upbringing in Brooklyn.
“We found this neighborhood and it reminded us of what Williamsburg used to be like, with all of the families,” Kristen said.
Buttah will be one of 20 local food vendors featured in the upcoming “Taste of Ridgewood” tasting and charity event at the Ridgewood YMCA on April 23 at 6:30 p.m.
377 Onderdonk Ave., Ridgewood