Sweet Selection

Appears in the December 2023 issue.

By Peter Gianopulos

This Lisle family bakery serves up Serbian delights

Astoria Café & Bakery

’Tis the season for holiday parties, spiked eggnogs, and fruitcakes so dry they could be used as cords of firewood. May we suggest an alternative for your sweets table this year? Go visit Suzi and Tanja Jeftenic, the mother-and-daughter team who run the Astoria Café & Bakery in Lisle, which offers one of the most diverse selections of Balkan-inspired treats this side of downtown Belgrade.

Although the Jeftenics are of Serbian descent and proud of it, their dessert menu honors the area’s melting pot of Turkish, Austro-Hungarian, and pan-Yugoslavian influences. Don’t worry about proper pronunciations; just look, drool, and point. There are peach-shaped apricot-jam cookies called breskvice. Honey-poached apples filled with walnuts and homemade whipped cream called tufahije. And coconut-coated, custard-filled mini sponge cakes called subarice that are so cute they would make Mrs. Claus’s cookies blush with envy.

Sweets on display at Astoria Café & Bakery

“There are desserts you can’t find anywhere else,” Tanja says. Speaking of one-of-a-kind sweets: Preorder one of Astoria’s floral sponge cakes, which look like a party and taste like heaven. Mama Suzi adorns each cake with a veritable cornucopia of fresh flowers, colorful macaroons, chocolate truffles, and other mini treats, in honor of her late mother, who adored flowers. Bring one of those cakes to the in-laws’ and you might experience a Christmas miracle yourself.


Photos: Jen Banowetz (Astoria); Tanja Jeftenic (sweets)