When we were in downtown Monterey recently, I stopped by two bakeries and my mother turned her nose up at both of them as too expensive. Instead she asked me to take her to the new place in Salinas she'd heard about.
Opened less than four months ago, Royal Deli and Bakery has the spot on Park Row that was occupied for decades by Betty's Pies. It's only a block away from the house I grew up in and is directly across the parking lot from Peninsula Pastry, the other French action in town.
Owner Alejandro Castellanos worked for various French and German restaurants and bakers before striking out on his own. He's baking from scratch, using plenty of butter and cream, and I was impressed by the variety of pastries in the case. In addition to baked goods, sandwiches, salads and quiches are available for a light meal at one of the tables.
After a few trips here, our favorite item is the big coconut macaroon, $1.75. Crunchy crust, light, very chewy, moist, and good balance of sweetness to not hide the coconut flavor under too much sugar. My mom hates the price, but even she conceeds that it's worth it. I'm not a fan of dried coconut, and even I like this cookie.
Pecan tart has a nice buttery crust, but is rather simple. Danish are very good and made in two sizes with fresh fruit. Chocolate brownie, $1.75, is the fudgey style with just a bit of chewy resistance, studded with nuts, and glazed with chocolate frosting. Croissant, $1.10, has a homely handmade look, on the large side, and could use more layers but is made with good butter. Raspberry filled butter cookie sandwiches, 3/$1, are the value item here.
The owner seemed proudest of a special, individual-sized cake, shown in the photo linked below. He hasn't been able to decide on a name for it yet, but it's a goodie. The buttery layers of genoise are filled with lime mousseline and fresh raspberries, then crowned with a layer of marzipan. The cake was a bit dry around the edges from sitting in the case too long. Yet, this was a lovely concept and deserves an "A" for effort, the silkiness of the mousseline, and loads of sophistication for under $3.
Image of Royal Deli facade and special cake -
Royal Deli & Bakery
952 Park Row