The charming little cafe, with its delectable French-inspired cakes, pastries, tarts and cookies, bested nine other finalists in our epic month-and-a-half-long search.
Melissa Murphy Rafano stood in shock as we walked in the door to make the announcement, then burst into tears.
“As soon as I walked in the door, I heard screaming and said, why are people screaming?” said Christy Jackson, who works at Sweet Melissa.
“I love the pastry,” said Maureen Chatfield, former owner of Chatfield’s in Gladstone and New York City. “Her apple tart tatin is ridiculous. It’s the best I’ve ever had, and I was in New York for 15 years.”
“There are not many people who bake this well,” Kim Crawford of Neshanic Station said succinctly.
Jenny Plassche was in the bakery with her daughter, Grace, who said that when she comes home from college, Sweet Melissa “is the first place I go.”
Sweet Melissa Patisserie opened at its current location in May 2016, but owner Melissa Murphy Rafano is no baking neophyte. She and her husband, Chris Rafano, operated Sweet Melissa Patisserie in three Brooklyn locations for 16 years before moving to New Jersey.
This is awesome! Now I want to try this apple tart tatin, gonna have to make a road trip up north.