Best Bakery - 2003
La Dolce Via - CLOSED
Readers' Choice: St. Louis Bread Company
When deciding on the best bakery in town, leave it to the experts; Bar Italia, perhaps St. Louis' most perennially favorite restaurant for twenty years running, gets its bread from La Dolce Via, while Best New Restaurant JaBoni's orders both its bread and desserts from here. Both a neighborhood nosh spot and a primo carb-baking factory, La Dolce Via -- which got its start back in the early 1980s as an offshoot of the aforementioned Bar Italia -- humbly occupies a corner storefront on the sleepy northeastern end of Forest Park Southeast. The interior's got the comfy, lived-in environs of a college coffeehouse (albeit with an extensive kids' play area), but as homey as it is, the baked goods are the reason to visit. Baguettes -- crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside, damn heavenly all around -- will make you weep for not being born French, while the desserts will make you jealous of indigenous Italians: Whole cakes for sale include elizabetta (lemon-infused sponge cake), chocolate espresso torte and this town's best tiramisu.