Damaskus Konditorei - Gastro Obscura

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Gastro Obscura

Damaskus Konditorei

A Syrian family keeps memories of their homeland alive at this sweet shop. 

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In Germany’s capital, Sonnenallee is colloquially known as Arab Street. The avenue in Berlin’s Neuköllin district, is lined with every kind of Arab-owned commerce you can imagine—bakers, butchers, shisha cafés, antique shops, and electronics dealers from the city’s Middle Eastern diaspora communities.

Since the 2016 refugee crisis, its storefronts have become even more culturally diverse, symbolizing optimism and fresh starts against shifting German multiculturalism. One of these businesses, a Syrian-owned pastry shop called Damaskus Konditorei, has garnered much attention for keeping homeland traditions alive with its crowd-favorite filo treats.

The Al-Sakka family opened Damaskus Konditorei (“Damascus Confectionery” in German) in 2017.  After fleeing the war-torn city of Homs, they arrived in Berlin with a modest set of belongings, but abundant family recipes and experience from their 45-year-old baking business back in Syria.

The pastry shop is a sweet tooth’s wonderland. Fragrant smells of pistachio, walnuts, attar (rose water) syrup, and cardamom waft freely from the glass vitrines. Some 25 types of traditional Syrian sweets are baked fresh daily and packed to takeaway by the Al-Sakka brothers, Tamem, Salim and Rami, and their families.

The most popular dish might be the cheese knafeh, made with kataifi spun pastry, sweet syrup, and liberal layers of cheese. A few minutes’ in the oven before serving promises a truly epic cheese pull before an indulgent bite mixing sweet and savory with serious crunch.

Other handcrafted sweets include halawa (semolina rolls filled with sweet cream cheese), mabruhma (long filo rounds with a cream filling), and shaabiyat (filo triangles). The classic pistachio baklava is exceptional here, as is a variation with a lush cream filling. Keep an eye out for booza, sometimes referred to as Arabic ice cream, in the freezer. Mastic gum gives this pistachio-encrusted log its toothsome texture and allows it to be sliced into rounds.

Not sure what to get? Fill up a box with an assortment, or just ask the Al-Sakkas for a recommendation—questions are usually answered with a grin, and often, also a free sample.

Know Before You Go

The pastry shop stays open late (until 10 p.m.) most evenings. Friday late afternoons and evenings are the most busy; and you may have to queue. Some of the sweets selection does sell out over the weekend.

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May 13, 2024

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