Gallery: 7 Middle Eastern Sweets You Can't Miss in the Boston Area

Sevan Bakery: Baklava
Sevan Bakery: Baklava
The Little Armenia section of Watertown is densely populated with baklava, but no place takes it more seriously than Sevan Bakery. The family-run shop makes more than half a dozen varieties, all of which feature gorgeously bronzed, shatteringly crisp pastry that's dripping with honey syrup and meaty nut fillings.
Sevan Bakery: Baklava
Sevan Bakery: Baklava
Among the varieties: pistachio (with or without apricot), walnut (with or without fig), hazelnut, and almond.
Sevan Bakery: Fried Dough with Honey
Sevan Bakery: Fried Dough with Honey
The owner called them simply fried dough with honey, but my research suggests that these glossy funnel cake–like spirals are called zoolbia, zolbi, or jalebi, depending on where you're from. The idea is the same: The fried dough tubes are soaked in honey or syrup, which they absorb like sponges. Biting into one is almost juicy.
Eastern Lamejun Bakers: Tahini Bread
Eastern Lamejun Bakers: Tahini Bread
As the name suggests, Lamejun is what this place does best (and they're really good). But this Belmont institution also has a respectable sweets case. My advice: Skip the dry, dull chocolate ragula in favor of the tahini bread: you'll be rewarded with plate-sized rounds of yeasted (and lightly spiced) dough glazed with rich, sweet sesame paste. The Levantine equivalent of scones, they're great with coffee or tea.
Massis Bakery: Shaabiyat ($1.50)
Massis Bakery: Shaabiyat ($1.50)
Massis makes most of the same traditional pastries as the other local Armenian bakeries do, but this dairy-filled triangle was a unique find. Breaking open the pistachio-topped phyllo reveals a rich, creamy filling that tastes (and eats) a bit like lightly sweetened ricotta.
Tatte: Halva Rose ($3)
Tatte: Halva Rose ($3)
Tatte, the once-tiny Brookline-based bakeshop owned by Israeli-bron Tzurit Or, made it big a few years ago when its signature nut tarts appeared in Dean and Deluca, a Donna Karen event, and on Oprah's O List. But the Brookline-based bakery deserves recognition for other (dare I say more interesting) pastries. Take the Halva Rose: A rich (but not brioche-rich) yeasted dough swirled with sweet-nutty halva filling.
Tatte: Chocolate Halva Bomb ($3/slice; $30/large)
Tatte: Chocolate Halva Bomb ($3/slice; $30/large)
If the Middle East did chocolate mousse cake, this would be it: layers of creamy halva, satiny chocolate mousse, and dense dark chocolate ganache. One slice could be dessert for a whole family.
Tatte: Almond Squares ($6 for 12)
Tatte: Almond Squares ($6 for 12)
These average-looking almond cookies are anything but. Brown sugar makes them molasses-y, but the finish is all butter and salt with good crunch.