As a little girl, Nona Zittel loved to bake cookies and cakes, a skill she learned from her grandmother in the Republic of Georgia.
The very first thing she ever made, at the age of eight, was corn bread. She still has the scar to prove it: Zittel received a small burn from the aluminum pan she used that day.
She shared that first corn bread with the children of the neighborhood. Now she shares all her baking creations with the greater Trenton neighborhood, where she has opened Dati’s Bakery at 3 E. State St.
“It was my dream to open a bakery business,” she said. “I love to bake and I love to make cookies.”
The bakery opened on Oct. 5 with the help of the Trenton Downtown Association. It is named after her 4-year-old son Dati, who spends time in the bakery almost every morning.
“He helps me a lot here,” she said. “He opens doors; he holds the refrigerator [open].”
He knows the names of all the pastries, but his favorite is the chocolate chip cookie, she said. Customers have even come in and brought toys and coloring books for him, she said.
Through a friend, Zittel got in touch with Bea Scala-Fischler, director of programs at TDA. About five years ago, TDA came up with a wishlist of retail businesses that would be a good fit downtown, and a bakery was one of them, Scala-Fischler said.
TDA gave Zittel a Facade Improvement Matching Grant that paid for half of the signage and awnings remodeling. They also assisted with health inspection approvals, she said.
Through the six months of preparing for the opening Scala-Fischler was there all the time to help, Zittel said.
“We try to be as supportive as we can,” Scala-Fischler said.
Zittel moved to the United States about 10 years ago, and first lived near the Trenton area 8 years ago. In Georgia, she graduated college with a nursing degree, specializing in home care. But in the end her passion for baking won out, she said.
Patrons will find international delights mixed with American favorites when coming to Dati’s bakery. Items include English, Egyptian and even Brazilian treats.
But it wouldn’t be a Georgian bakery without a selection of treats from Zittel’s homeland. Each goes beyond the usual sugar-filled, heartwarming bakery goods one would expect.
Among them are the khachapuri, dough bread baked with cheese; pirozhki, baked with potato; and ahma, $4.50, baked with cheese and egg. Any can be used as sides for parties or big dinners through the catering portion of the business.
Traditional Arabic treats on the menu are prepared and designed in part by Zittel’s business partner Ahmed Aly, who is Egyptian. Among these treats are the konafa pastry and the baklava dessert; tasty sweet treats.
The bakery makes wedding cakes, birthday cakes and recently catered for Thanksgiving dinners, she said. Zittel decorates the cakes herself. Cake prices start at $12.99.
She said one favorite that has emerged among her customers are her cinnamon buns with crème, or swirls, a more contemporary American treat.
In the future, Zittel hopes to add grocery items like milk, cheese, eggs, cereal and pasta to her inventory.
Dati’s Bakery is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Call (609) 394-2355 for more info.