Even if you’re one of the lucky Ballard residents who live close enough to Honoré to catch the aroma of baking croissants, you may not have noticed when the beloved neighborhood bakery quietly changed hands last June. Suzanne Rosellini, herself a regular since Franz Gilbertson opened the shop in 2008, bought the business when Gilbertson relocated with his family to the Midwest. For months, the gilded sign on the door still read “Honoré,” though it now, finally, reads “Rosellini’s.”
A veteran of the local restaurant scene for more than 20 years, both in the kitchen and as a server (Tilth, Grand Central Bakery, Hattie’s Hat, to name a few), Rosellini has been baking custom cakes for special orders under the name Rosellini Sweets since 2008. While she was a server for Maria Hines at Tilth, Hines let her bake out of the Wallingford restaurant’s kitchen. But Rosellini dreamed of opening her own place, and she says Honoré was the kind of place she wanted.
When Gilbertson decided to sell, a friend connected him with Rosellini. The self-taught baker met Gilbertson and his staff in the kitchen every day for three weeks to learn the meditative art of rolling laminated dough (the many-layered dough used to make buttery, flaky croissants) and folding the bakery’s popular kouign-amann (a pastry originating in Brittany that’s encrusted with caramelized sugar and dusted with large flecks of sea salt).
Despite the steep learning curve, Rosellini has hit the ground running, expanding the bakery’s selection to include more savory items—such as a comforting rustic bacon, potato and leek pie, and a red pepper Danish with a perfect runny egg baked in the center—and her own moist layer cakes by the slice. She’s familiar with the frequently experienced heartbreak that happens when the person in front of you buys up the last few pastries; with that in mind, she is committed to ensuring that her case is full of huckleberry Danish, almond croissants, canelés, quiche, éclairs and all manner of goodies from morning to afternoon.
Is everything the same as before? No. Even Rosellini admits that “of course it will look different, it’s a different set of hands in the kitchen.” She’s right: The croissants aren’t quite as browned around the edges, the kouign-amann’s caramel top sticks in your teeth a little more. But the differences are minor compared to the gain for the neighborhood—basically, two bakeries where before there was one.