Transylvanian goodies land on Dempster
Ovy Pop's Transylvanian Bakery is very popular with residents from his native Romania. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Ovy Transylvanian Bakery
Monday through Saturday
11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Updated: March 19, 2013 10:32AM
SKOKIE — Since opening an ethnic bakery at Dempster Avenue and Lincolnwood Drive in Skokie one year ago, Transylvanian transplant Ovidiu “Ovy” Pop has revealed the sweet side of his native European region which is better known for vampire mythology than its baked goods.
The 33-year-old Pop, who began baking with his mother in Romania at a young age, opened Ovy Transylvanian Bakery, or “Ovy,” last January after graduating with a culinary arts degree from Kendall College and later working as a chef at famed Chicago restaurants Blackbird and the Waldorf Astoria’s Balsan.
Ovy’s European-style baked treats are a far cry from traditional cupcakes and cookies.
Using his own recipes, each dessert is baked from scratch with all-natural ingredients, and his menu includes ethnic pastries like the Savarina, a light yeast cake filled with whipped cream and soaked in run syrup and topped with raspberry sauce.
Pop, who lives with his wife Melinda in Chicago, opened Ovy at 3455A W. Dempster after taking over the space when Le Patisserie bakery closed.
“I changed the recipe for every dessert and pastry made in the last bakery and made it my own,” Pop said. “I use no mixes, and everything is made right here.”
Ovy first arrived in the U.S. in 2000 when he was a college student on a summer work/travel program with classmates from the Romanian university he attended. He enjoyed his trip so much that he decided to stay and pursue a career in culinary arts in the Chicago area.
“I never dreamed I’d come here, but it just happened,” Pop said. “My dream is to own a restaurant, but sometimes in life things happen differently than you imagine them, and I ended up owning a bakery.”
During the past year since he opened the doors of Ovy, Pop said his business has attracted a large following from the Romanian community, many of whom line up on Fridays to get one of 60 loaves of special-recipe sweet dessert bread he bakes once a week.
The bread is similar to challah but contains raisins, walnuts and “Turkish Delight,” a chewy candy-like jelly sauce.
“The bread is unbelievable — every Friday I run out,” Pop said. “People who come in and try my pastries — you know they like it, because I see them coming back, which is good.”
Pop plans to add more American-inspired desserts to his menu this year, such as a new line of pastries and mousses, in an effort to appeal to a wider demographic, he said.
But one taste of hard-to-resist European sweets like the Joffre — a chocolate ganache sandwiched between two cookies covered in Belgian chocolate couvertures — it’s easy to forget that this bakery doesn’t serve cutesy cupcakes.