Treat Wave

Monika's Bakery Boutique Has Opened on Ringling Boulevard

Paul Novak and Monika Mieszalska bring European flavors to the Gardens of Ringling Park neighborhood.

By Lauren Jackson June 25, 2024

Cappucino and meringue at Monika's Bakery Boutique.
Cappucino and meringue at Monika's Bakery Boutique.

A new bakery, or pâtisserie, if you will, has opened in the Gardens of Ringling Park neighborhood, just east of downtown Sarasota on Ringling Boulevard. Monika's Bakery Boutique is named for owner and baker Monika Mieszalska, who runs the shop with her husband Paul Novak. The couple moved to Sarasota from New Jersey just two years ago.

"Years ago, I lived in Boca Raton but because of my family's business in New Jersey, I moved back there," says Novak. "The weather there is not good, and a few years ago, Monika and I decided we wanted to move to Florida. When we stopped in Sarasota, we fell in love."

Monika's Bakery Boutique
Monika's Bakery Boutique

Novak and Mieszalska are both originally from Poland and met via an online dating site. Novak has lived in the U.S. for nearly 30 years; Mieszalska moved here seven years ago. The pair both have long histories in the food industry, so opening their bakery was an easy decision.

"Before opening the bakery, I worked for my family’s Polish food manufacturing business," says Novak, who settles in to chat with me since Mieszalska is busy in the kitchen. "Monika has had restaurants in Europe and has been baking for 30 years. For her, it's a passion. She just wants to be baking all the time. Even when we’re watching a movie, she’ll leave before it’s over because she can’t stop thinking about baking and what she wants to make next."

Monika's Bakery doesn't specialize in any single dessert because, Novak explains, "Monika is always making something new or changing something old to have new flavors."

Mango cheesecake at Monika's.
Mango cheesecake at Monika's.

To wit: the dessert case is filled with American-style cheesecakes with various flavor combinations like lemon curd, mango, apricot and Amaretto, and mixed berry. There are also other cakes, like a tiramisu cake and carrot cake, which Novak hopes will remain staples.

Mieszalska also pulls in European influences, evident in her "poppyseed lady," a layered dessert made with gluten-free poppyseed cake, sweet cherry jam, mascarpone and a dusting of coconut on top. It's luscious, smooth and not overly sweet, unlike many desserts tailored for the American palate.

"In Europe, desserts aren’t quite as sweet as here in America, so we make the recipes like that," Novak explains. "Even if Monika uses an American recipe, she cuts back on the sugar." 

He initially won't admit to having a favorite dessert, but concedes that he loves Mieszalska's "raspberry cloud," another layered dessert made with raspberry jello, mascarpone and meringue cake.

"I also like whatever cream she puts on a cake," he says with a laugh. "I’d eat just the cream."

A cappuccino made with Italian espresso at Monika's.
A cappuccino made with Italian espresso at Monika's.

In addition to a robust dessert case, Monika's also offers European candies and treats that line the bookcase shelves of the shop's back wall, as well as Italian coffee, made fresh to order from an espresso machine.

"We serve some of the best coffee," Novak claims. "[Monika and I] don’t love the coffee here in the U.S., but we have a friend who owns cafés in Europe. He insisted that we sell the best coffee we can find—so we do."

Drozdozøwka z serem (a a sweet cheese Danish with a pretzel-like dough) from Monika's.

Patrons from the neighborhood enter periodically to explore the new store while Monika bakes in the back kitchen, poking her head out every few minutes to see what's going on. Today, she's pulled a Polish pastry from the oven called drozdozøwka z serem (yes, she had to write down the spelling for me!) which is sort of a sweet cheese Danish with a pretzel-like dough. Perfect to pair with some of the best coffee around.

Monika's Bakery Boutique opens at 8 a.m., seven days a week at 2249 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota. For more information call (941) 298-7986 or click here

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