442 Park Avenue, at 56th Street
1000 Madison Avenue, near
In Manhattan, we've noticed, croissant snobs tend to be territorial. Downtown diners have their staunch favorites (Balthazar Bakery, Ceci-Cela), as do uptown connoisseurs (Payard, Guy Pascal). But our pick is Fauchon, the overly precious, pinkly decorated fine-foods emporium from Paris. Actually, Astoria is where pastry chef Florian Bellanger (formerly of Le Bernardin) bakes up his confections before sending them to the two Fauchon stores in Manhattan. The newest of these occupies the old address of the sadly departed Sant Ambroeus gelateria on Madison Avenue. Although Fauchon's Madison Avenue branch still offers a pallid variety of gelato, stick to the croissants. They're tightly curled without being too dense, and light without being puffy. Our bagful had a uniformly pleasurable flakiness and a long, smooth, buttery aftertaste that almost reminds us (with our eyes closed, of course) of Paris.