The first thing one notices is the luxurious 18th century Toile de Jouy pattern that has become the signature of the Vasalissa brand’s packaging.
Then, the eyes travel to the crystal chandeliers, before they rest on the main event of the experience: lots and lots of chocolate.
Displays of Decadence
True to the aesthetic of the surrounding Bal Harbour Shops, Vasalissa’s boutique has sweets displayed like jewelry in chic crystal platters.
However at this, the only North American outpost for the Argentinian chocolatier, the shopper is urged to walk around the antique showcase table and interact with the product, delighting in the many designs its delectable product comes in.
“We have two store formats we will implement eventually: a chocolate shop with a snack menu and table service, and a much smaller layout that also offers coffee to go with no table service, ideal for cities where square footage is limited,” says Agustina Garcia Laredo, Vasalissa North America Executive Vice President.
“But both will have the same ‘chocolate table’, where people get to see the product up close, as this is the essence of our brand.”
The Sweetest Tale
The main protagonists of what one might call a chocolate-laced fairy tale are Dadi and Federica Marimucci, the mother and daughter team that created the Vasalissa Chocolatier boutiques in Buenos Aires as a tribute to their Russian ancestry, particularly Dadi’s parents, who migrated to Romania during the first World War, where her father, Abrascha Benski, opened a candy and chocolate shop.
Years later, the family relocated across the continents to Buenos Aires, Argentina. There, Abrascha discovered the general Argentinian fondness for deliciously sticky sweet dulce de leche and created a chocolate that enticed the taste buds of the locals.
“Cabsha” as he called it, is a Russian word that phonetically means “I love you”, and the candy which bears the name soon became a cult classic in the South American country.
The size of an Argentine peso, this semi-sweet chocolate-covered wafer is filled with rich dark dulce de leche and has a secret ingredient only known to the family.
Anchored on the third floor next to Neiman Marcus, the location in Bal Harbour features a twenty some seat chocolate boutique, serves delightful hot and cold beverages, including wines and champagnes, and house-made savory snacks, including quiches, baguette sandwiches, and smoked salmon over whole wheat toast.
Guests who wish to enjoy fine patisserie can gratify their sweet tooth with bright macaroons, cookies, pies, cakes and pastel-colored ice cream paletas that inspire nostalgic memories of summer.
Vasalissa’s chocolate assures the full enjoyment of its artisanal fillings, like roasted almond cream, white ganache perfumed with rose petals, and exotic and slightly tangy passion fruit essence infused in a rich chocolate ganache.
This is just the tip of the chocolate iceberg. Lucky for dessert lovers in other parts of the US, the brand will soon take its products north.
“We decided to open our first chocolate boutique in the Bal Harbour Shops because it was right demographic market for us, and the best spot to test our brand,” says Garcia Laredo.
“Simultaneously, we built our first chocolate ‘lab’ in Doral, which is also equipped to supply our future openings in other east coast cities in the US. Greenwich, Connecticut, is our next opening outside of Miami.”