French Elegance In The Heart Of NYC

By Irvina Lew


Some of you are familiar with my affection for Provençal food, which I enjoy wherever I find it, including in New York City, where there are wonderful places reminiscent of Provence. One example is Boulud Sud, across from Lincoln Center, another is a new pastry shop in a corner of a landmark townhouse in Carnegie Hill, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Patisserie Vanessa presents more sweet than savory selections in an intimate pastry shop designed to bring Provençal aesthetic elegance to the heart of the city. The classically modern décor reflects the colors of the coast, complete with terra cotta ceramic decorative items and the colors of painted fisherman’s boats.

The patisserie is a mom-and-pop endeavor. Vanessa, the only female pastry maker in NYC with her own unique venue, grew up in Marseille, where she was always cooking and baking for her loved ones as a way of expressing herself and delighting others. After graduating with a degree in marketing, she moved to New York and worked for major global brands before starting an intensive one-on-one training with Anna Notari from L’Atelier des Chefs in Aix-en-Provence. She established her own wholesale business providing French pastries to coffee shops, delivery services, and restaurants. Ten years later, her dream of a brick-and mortar flagship location has became a reality. Her husband and business partner Marc Silengo, a former marketing executive for high end brands, brings his enthusiasm and marketing expertise to the effort.

The vitrine is beautifully stocked with fluffy French croissants, a variety of chocolate goodies and Madeleines, the little cakes made famous by Proust. And Macarons Vanessa are her personal interpretation of the famous melt-in-the-mouth meringue treats filled with ganache or jam, inspired by Vanessa’s trips to Paris during her childhood; on display, there are salted caramel, pistachio, lemon, and raspberry macarons.

I arrived at noon and enjoyed a light goat cheese quiche Provençal with zucchini served with roasted cherry tomatoes and a leafy green salad, which featured figs, niçoise olives and pumpkin seeds and topped with a fresh-tasting olive oil and lemon juice dressing. Then, I sampled La Tropézienne Vanessa, velvety mousseline cream in vanilla flavor, housed in a soft yet dense brioche. I continued to indulge with Le Canelé Vanessa, the small pastry from the wine region that has a slightly custardy center, a lightly caramelized, perfectly golden crust, and is flavored with a touch of white rum. 

Valentine’s Day and chocolate go hand in hand Vanessa. Clients welcome Le Hot Chocolate Vanessa using Vanessa’s signature chocolate ganache, the same chocolate ganache used for the Macaron Chocolat and the Trésor Chocolat. Vanessa’s ganache is a crafted blend of three chocolates: a dark chocolate as a nice and even classic chocolate base, complemented by a milk chocolate for a touch of creamy sweet notes and an extra dark chocolate for robust cocoa flavor. Here, it is generously melted into milk, upon order, for an intense, pure chocolate taste and is served with Vanessa’s Chantilly cream and chocolate shavings on top.

The pâtisserie’s most popular Valentine’s Day item is a special heart-shaped Charlotte surprise for the occasion. The iconic ladyfinger French Charlotte Cake celebrates the owners’ beloved Hazelnut Praliné, which was the very first recipe that Vanessa learned to bake as a child, and she prepares it in flavors of raspberry bavaroises (a Bavarian cream—with milk, sugar and egg yolks—thickened with gelatin into which whipped cream is folded). She also prepares it with jam, milk and dark chocolate mousses, or lemon chiboust. Crème chiboust was a pastry cream lightened with Italian meringue or whipped cream and created in 1847 by the pastry chef M. Chiboust on Rue St. Honore.

Another popular pastry, La Tarte Aux Pommes Vanessa, was launched for the winter season. The classic fruity French apple tart showcases slightly nutty, soft layers of thinly cut apples, over a light almond cream.

For more information on Patisserie Vanessa, visit
Many items are available in individual dessert size and a larger celebration size (6-8 people).