Worth the Drive: Dolce
Italian pastry with Southern flair at Dolce Pastry Shop
By Lori Quiller
Nestled among the buildings on the Square in downtown Troy is a small yet bustling bakery where more than just cupcakes fill the display case and much more is cooking in the kitchen than simple tarts and cookies.
This isn’t your ordinary bakery. It’s Dolce Pastry Shop.
Walking into the store, customers immediately realize they aren’t in a big city coffee shop. And that’s exactly how chef-owner Jamey McDaniel wants it.
McDaniel was a music major at Troy University in the ’70s before moving to New York and then Boston to study under an Italian pastry chef for a couple of years. After living the hustle and bustle life in these large metropolitan cities, he was ready to return back to his hometown of Troy.
“Everything is made with lots of love…and butter!”
It took a little while, but when he was approached by a friend about a year and a half ago with a business opportunity to open a pastry shop on the town square, he jumped at the chance to give back to the town he loves so much.
“I don’t have WiFi,” McDaniel says. “I even considered banning cell phones in the store. This is a throwback to the ’80s with our chalkboard menus, our classical music. It’s a place to slow down, relax with a cappuccino, and enjoy the food.”
The shop may be small in size, yet McDaniel and his chief baker Joseph Pullen make up the difference with their daily creations and big flavors. Fresh tarragon chicken salad, mocha cream cheese croissant, spinach quiche…and the list goes on.
“Each day we make something new, and we try to experiment with different, seasonal flavors. But, it’s always fun just to try new flavors to see what the customers like. We know we have something special when it doesn’t last very long in the case,” McDaniel laughs. “Everything is made from scratch, even the ladyfingers for the tiramisu. It’s a subtle difference, but we think it’s what makes the difference.”
Laughter is something else that’s special about Dolce Pastry Shop. With a close-quarters kitchen, it’s good to have a sense of humor about bumping into things…or each other.
“Oh, we laugh about something or each other every day,” Pullen says. “We have a lot of fun because we both truly enjoy what we’re doing. If you can’t have fun with what you’re doing all day, then what’s the point? Hopefully that love comes through in the products we serve to our customers.”
All of the shop’s pastries, and there are many, are made from homemade croissant dough. From that dough come many wonderful flavors.
“I’ve always had a sweet tooth,” McDaniel says. “My favorite pastry is croissant, and my very favorite that we do right now is apricot pecan croissant. When that is fresh, hot, out of the oven, it is incredible. But, whenever we come up with a new invention, that’s our new favorite. Everything is made with lots of love…and butter!”
But Dolce Pastry Shop isn’t just about pastry. Early Saturday mornings, passersby will be drawn in by the smell of freshly baked bread, and each Sunday the shop is filled with guests sitting down for morning brunch. For now, brunch is only served on Sundays, but this little shop is definitely growing.
“We have a lot of loyal regulars. We don’t advertise at all,” McDaniel says. “People discover us every day, and they have spread the word about us, so we have a great following.”