Mansoura Pastries
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Isaac and Albert Mansoura, father and son and the fourth and fifth generation of bakers... trace their roots to Aleppo... Isaac still makes the pistachio-and-apricot ice cream he says King Farouk used to order for banquets when the Mansouras owned a bakery on Haran el Rasheed Street in Cairo in the 1950's.
Sometimes, he said, visitors ask him whether the ornamental pastries he bakes are decorated and cut into elaborate shapes with a machine.

"I tell them I do everything by hand, that it’s an art," he said proudly. "I taught this art to my son, and he is teaching it to his son. It is a tradition, and you have to love it."


Along Kings Highway, where Arabic-Jewish stores line both sides of the street, Mansoura's is perhaps the oldest, dating back to the early 1960s. But the name and the family tradition of selling Middle Eastern pastries goes back about 200 years. The Mansoura family had a well known shop in Aleppo, Syria, and when they moved to Cairo in the early 1900s, they re-established the business there, and their pastries- always kosher -were favored throughout Cairo society.

The family left Egypt for France in 1957, and the late Isaac Mansoura opened a shop at this location soon after he arrived in New York. The Syrian community that was already in Brooklyn knew the name, and as Josiane Mansoura, who now runs the business with her husband Alan, explains, they continue to learn about the family's history from their customers. They are told that the name Mansoura, which means victory, is still visible on their former shop in Cairo.

At Mansoura's the pastries are an aesthetic as well as culinary pleasure. The different varieties of baklava, made with pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds, in different shapes; kaniffa, a similar pastry that looks like it's wrapped in shredded wheat; Turkish Delight, a rose-water flavored pistachio confection ("It grows on you," Mansoura urges, and it does, with a few bites"); almond fingers, semolina cakes, date cookies and more are beautifully arranged in the window and showcases. She knows the names of each in the various Arabic dialects she hears in the store.

"We're very Americanized," she says, "but we’re still very authentic." They use family recipes dating back to their origins in Syria. They also sell a rolled confection of apricot paste with pistachios and hand-dipped chocolates. More savory are the ka'ak, sesame cookies with a variety of spices. The pastries and chocolates are all pareve. And then is their freezer, they sell horsd'ouvres, made with phyllo or pastry crust, both meat and dairy - made in separate kitchens - including crescent-shaped sambussak with spinach and cheese; kibbe, pastellas and cigars, all made with spicy meat.

Josiane Mansoura, who was born in Morocco, does a lot of the baking and is up front serving customers, with a large dose of hospitality. She seems to know everyone who comes in, remembering the sisters and cousin of one client, asking after the French-speaking father of another. There are no strangers, as she quickly befriends those she hasn't met before. "Good people come here," she says. And they seem to come back.

Mansoura has customers all over the world, and do a lot of mail-order. If someone in Manhattan needs pastries in a hurry, they'll load a tray onto the back seat of a car service and send it over.


Rethink the old year, look ahead to filling the New Year with more kindness, generosity, beauty, with new tastes, words and stories. The Mansoura family has been baking traditional Middle Eastern pastries for more than 200 years, first in Aleppo, Syria, then in Cairo, Egypt, and now on Kings Highway in Brooklyn. Their Cairo café and restaurant, which they operated from 1910 until 1958, when the family had to leave Egypt, was one of that city’s most elegant institutions, frequented by actors, politicians, business people, even King Farouk.

Now they have been in the same Brooklyn location for more than 50 years, using recipes that have been handed down over five generations, still turning out distinctive and delicious baklava, kataifi, Turkish delight, hand-dipped chocolates, biscotti, roasted pistachios and more, kosher and pareve.

Their maamoul, a Syrian-Lebanese handmade pastry filled with imported pistachios or freshly ground date paste, is a traditional Jewish New Year treat. A gift package features 16 pieces, dusted with powdered sugar, packed in a Mansoura signature tin.

The fragrant shop, filled with the warmth of Josiane Mansoura and family, is well worth a visit, but it also offers mail order, with quick delivery available.

Made in NYC Kosher
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