As if my love of desserts wasn’t obvious from previous posts, I can barely hold back my enthusiasm about another new bakery that opened its doors in Philadelphia this past Friday.
Vanilya, located in South Philly’s Passyunk Square, is the brainchild of Bonnie Sarana Noll, a former New Yorker who left the world of finance in 2007 to pursue a degree at the Culinary Institute of America, and then trained under legendary cake artist Betty Van Norstrand.
After a few years of whipping up gorgeous wedding cakes and hand-decorated cookies for clients in NYC, Noll and her husband relocated to Philly, where he accepted a job with Stephen Starr. “We were drawn to [Philadelphia] for its great food scene,” she says of the city that’s now home to her bakery’s first storefront.
The bakery operates heavily on an appointment-only basis, to allow for consultations and the production of Noll’s signature cake creations (which include unusual, clever flavors such as pink champagne, chai tea, Drunken Black Forest and Bananas Gone Nuts), including, of course, wedding cakes. “I have been making wedding cakes for seven years—my specialty is life-like gum paste flowers,” she says, “but we also make other custom cakes for bar mitzvahs, sweet sixteens, and any celebratory occasion.”
Noll can also outfit an entire dessert table at your shower or reception with any of the aforementioned sweet treats—though she recommends cupcakes, pretty cookie favors and macarons for a Big-Day spread.
Outside of appointment-only hours, you can stop into the dainty shop—which gets its name from the Turkish translation of vanilla, Noll’s favorite ingredient for the way it enhances every other flavor—from Thursday-Saturday for a mouth-watering array of single serve desserts like chocolate mousse, tiramisu, panna cotta, and flourless chocolate cake.
See you there?