Hooked on Cheese: Cheese – It’s What’s for Breakfast

Queens' Rockaway Beach Bakery serves up incredible cheese-centric pastries
Rockaway Beach Bakery
Raymond Hook

I recently moved to Far Rockaway in Queens – in my opinion, one of the most exciting up-and-coming culinary neighborhoods in New York City – and set out to explore what breakfast spots I could find. I’d received a tip that Rockaway Beach Bakery was fantastic, so I headed over to Beach 87th Street to give it a shot.

RBB is a small, bright, friendly café. They serve all the basics: croissants, cookies, brownies and fresh-baked breads. I quickly noticed that this place features a lot of cheese on their menu, so I dove into their offerings.

The bakery makes fantastic cheese Danishes – not overpoweringly sweet and very flavorful – including a superb version with guava and cream cheese. There’s a traditional ham and gruyère croissant, sprinkled with home-made “everything bagel” mix for an added kick. They offer two cheese-centric quiches: bacon with cheddar and mushroom with fresh chèvre. I tried the creamy goat cheese quiche, served warm, of course, and it was perfect. There’s also a focaccia topped with local cow’s milk ricotta and honey, as well as three sandwiches, all of which include cheese. Last but not least, there’s a jalapeño cheddar scone. Being a Southern boy, I generally raise an eyebrow at any type of “scone” take on a biscuit, but I have to admit, it was damn good, with plenty of jalapeños and the perfect quantity of cheddar. As all Southerners can attest, there’s nothing worse than a cheddar biscuit made without enough cheddar.

After a thorough sampling of the menu, I knew I had to meet whoever was in charge of the place. I was a bit surprised to find out it was the young surfer I see working the counter every time I’m there, the same young woman who gives hugs to neighborhood kids when they rush in, excited to get their hands on some pastries. This is Tracy Obolsky, a woman with major NYC restaurant experience: she graduated from the International Culinary Center and, after working under Nicholas Morgenstern of Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, became the head Pastry Chef at such celebrated restaurants as Esca and Danny Meyer’s North End Grill.

After all the time Obolsky spent baking in Manhattan, I’m thrilled that she chose to bring her love of cheese for breakfast to Queens. Rockaway Beach is lucky to have her.

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Follow Raymond's food escapades on FacebookInstagram and his website. Additional reporting by Madeleine James.