BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Delicious Heights recently added a new reason to eat in or pick up take out at their restaurant -- a bakery.

Co-owner Ralph Acquaviva said the bakery, at least for now, "is named 'Delicious Heights - Now Baking.' That really is what is is; it's under our umbrella. It's our kind of stuff ... The bake shop turns out all sorts of desserts from Whoopie pies to cupcakes and two-color cookies."

Corporate Executive Chef Walter Leffler who admitted, "My passion is pastries," is in his element. There are day-to-day changes in what is made, he said, then listed some of the treats, "We do small tarts, Linzer bars, homemade marshmallows of all different favors ... Whatever we feel like making."

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Among the things they feel like making is a cannoli shell large enough to hold between 14 and 18 smaller filled ones, plus a container of cream to take home to use as dip for the shell pieces. There are also chocolate covered pretzels, tarts, fudge, large lollipops and even dog biscuits!

Leffler and Acquaviva are old friends. About 25 years ago, when he graduated from culinary school, Acquaviva worked for Leffler, who was then the Executive Chef at the Short Hills Hilton. Eventually, each man went his own way. Years later, they ran into each other one day in Martinsville, only to learn they lived only about a mile apart. Acquaviva asked Leffler to be his consultant and they worked well together and it wasn't long after that Acquaviva asked Leffler to be his corporate executive chef.

When Leffler joined the business, Delicious Heights was purchasing its own desserts. "We started swapping out. First we made our own cheesecakes ... Now we make everything," Acquaviva said.  Now, rather than order desserts for the restaurant from a wholesaler, desserts at all the Delicious Heights restaurants, Bedminister and Basking Ridge, are produced in-house.

Leffler is on top of everything - as corporate executive chef, one of his responsibilities is to keep an eye on expenses and keep the menu current. The special one-page menu is changed every week or two and "the core menu changes slightly throughout the year," Leffler said.  The main menu is recast from time to time, with the items that don't sell being cut out, to make room for new dishes.

Delicious Heights has its own shopper, who sometimes buys locally. "We have a shopper who goes and hand selects everything from a variety of sources," said Acquaviva. 

Leffler lends his expertise and takes "trips to Maine for wild blueberries ... I go with my rake and harvest them myself." That's also where he finds rose hips, which he uses as "a base for a variety of dishes" including "vintage sugars." Right now, they have lemon and lavender sugars, which can be used in tea or sprinkled on top of cookies, for sale at the shop.

Anyone who recently ate a meal at Delicious Heights has had a chance to order dessert off the menu to eat in the restaurant or to take home. The customers' reaction has been even better than expected to the offerings. "They're selling Whoopie pies and more late at night, at the bar," Acquaviva said.

The shop is tucked away behind Delicious Heights, at 430A Springfield Ave., in what was formerly the take-out store. Now residents can drop in and get both a meal and a dessert to take home - or simply pick up a sweet treat. 

The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

To find out more about Delicious Heights, visit the website.