Is Denville the Dessert Capital of New Jersey?

From crepes, candy and ice cream to beignets, macarons and croissants, sweet treats beckon every few paces.

If you cannot resist the allure of a delicious dessert in a display window, the downtown business district of Denville in Morris County will prove a den of temptation. Here, a sweet shop beckons every few paces.

This multitude of munchies is just one aspect of Denville’s appeal. “We have what so many towns have lost,” says Denville Mayor Thomas Andes. “And that’s an old-fashioned, pedestrian-focused downtown with family-owned shops and free parking.”

“Broadway and Main Street are the heartbeat of Denville,” adds Stephen Crighton, who runs the downtown business association. “This is where we come together as a community to catch up with and do business with our neighbors and to celebrate at town events.”

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But what explains Denville’s bonanza of bakeries and sweet boutiques? Says Mayor Andes with a laugh: “It makes sense. Denville is just a very sweet place, with sweet people and a sweet tooth.”

These are the places to indulge your own taste for treats, whether you visit in person or order deliveries.

El Coquí Crepes

Zaire Vendrell and her abuela, Carmen, show off the piña colada at El Coquí Crepes in Denville

Zaire Vendrell and her abuela, Carmen, show off the piña colada at El Coquí Crepes. Photo: KT Harrison

Three proud generations of a Puerto Rican family handcraft tropical treats at El Coqui Crepes. Their marquee dish is made from delicate crepe dough ladled onto a hot griddle and filled with fresh fruit and syrup. El Coqui’s bestselling Denville crepe enfolds strawberries, banana and Nutella with a drizzle of chocolate syrup, and is served with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. “Crepes are French and romantic,” says Zaire Vendrell, the family’s youngest crepier. “We get a lot of daters who share a crepe at the couple’s table in the corner.” Adds mom Zulema: “If you’re looking for a tropical energy boost, get our [booze-free] piña colada.”
5 Broadway; 973-453-6181


Denville's Chocolatine owners Cédric Hosy and Elaine Castro

Chocolatine owners Cédric Hosy and Elaine Castro Photo: KT Harrison

What happens when a business-savvy Jersey girl and a gifted French baker get married? Welcome to Elaine Castro and Cédric Hosy’s Chocolatine, Denville’s superlative French pastry shop. Its selection and quality are “exactly what you’d get in a patisserie in France,” says Hosy, a native of Lyon, France’s culinary hub. “French butter, French chocolate, French savoir-faire.” Another Gallic touch, notes Castro, is “customers who come in every single day for coffee and their favorite pastry.” That could be one of Chocolatine’s 10 croissants, dozens of macarons, creamy or chocolaty confections, tarts, cookies, baguettes, brioches and more. “We never knew how many French people live in New Jersey,” says Castro. “But judging by how many come in, there are a lot.”
23 East Main Street; 973-437-2839

Mo’Pweeze Bakery 

Denville's Mo'Pweeze Bakery's owner Christine Allen with her twins, Maddox (left) and Sanaa

Mo’Pweeze Bakery’s Christine Allen with her twins, Maddox (left) and Sanaa. Photo: Courtesy of Mo’Pweeze Bakery

Christine Allen’s two sons developed food allergies as babies. Planning a birthday party for her children, Allen couldn’t find a non-allergenic cake anywhere. Fueled by what she calls “a mother’s inspiration and divine intervention”—which came in the form of actual dreams—she adapted her sister Jameka’s family-famous banana bread recipe into allergen-free birthday cupcakes. She then continued experimenting until she’d perfected an entire range of treats—all allergen-free, gluten-free, vegan and certified kosher. In 2014, Allen opened Denville’s now-thriving source for sweets made with non-wheat flours and sumptuous frostings. And the bakery’s name? “My twin two-year-olds’ reaction to my very first batch of cupcakes,” she says.
32 Broadway; 973-627-2300

Sweet Expressions By Geri

Sweet Expressions By Geri in Denville

Sweet Expressions occupies an old movie palace. Photo: Courtesy of Sweet Expressions By Geri

Dramatically set in the playful Art Deco edifice that was once the Denville Theater, Sweet Expressions By Geri is closer to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory than it is to a candy store. In this vibrantly hued fantasyland of all things sugary, the browsing is as delightful as the tasting. Myriad nooks are devoted to chocolate bonbons, cupcakes, popcorn, chocolate gifts, novelties, pet treats and much more. Sweet Expressions caters to cooks and bakers as well, offering dessert ingredients and condiments, baking gear, cookbooks, and a mezzanine kitchen offering hands-on cooking classes with local experts. West Orange-raised founder Geri Lombardi was a clinical psychologist before opening the business in 2006. “I’m still working with emotions,” she says. “People have an emotional relationship with chocolate. Simply, it makes you happy.“
26 Broadway; 973-625-0025

Denville Dairy

Denville Dairy’s name merits a third D, for dynasty. This bustling, year-round ice cream emporium, founded 50-plus years ago by Jack and Lois Fine, is now in the capable hands of their children: Patrick, Richard and Karen, with Richard’s son Tyler already onboard. They oversee the creation and sale of their premium, creamy, all-natural ice cream, which is sold in fresh-scooped cups and cones, plus frozen quarts and half-gallons. “Our library of flavors numbers over 300,” says Richard. “The classics are always available, and we’re known for seasonal and holiday flavors, plus innovations like Vanilla Crunch Swirl, which reminds some customers of Oreos and others of s’mores.” There’s more to love at Denville Dairy: amazingly true-to-the-fruit sorbet; ice cream cakes, pies and sandwiches; and ice cream that’s sugar-free, fat-free or vegan—yet still luscious.
34A Broadway; 973-627-4214


Two young girls show off treats at Beignets in Denville

Morgan (left) and Catherine brandish some of the treats available at Beignets. Photo: KT Harrison

The signature treats here were inspired by the beignets beloved in France and New Orleans: square, lightly fried, flaky pastries heaped with powdered sugar. Denville’s beignets are created on the spot and served hot. Regular round doughnuts are made to order with your chosen glaze, toppings and add-ons. Or you can opt for donut combos named for the owners’ family members. Try the banana glaze flavor with nuts and chocolate chips, or the timeless, apple-tinged cinnamon sugar. The in-house coffee bar’s dark roasts are equally soulful. Some patrons drop into Beignets for a takeout fix, while others relish it as a café, watching denizens of Denville drift by.
45 Broadway; 862-209-1700

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