Who needs cupcakes?

Cupcakes are all the craze, with cupcake depots and bakeries popping up all over. But no one, with the exception of Nancy Silverton when she was still running La Brea Bakery, had taken on the doughnut and given it a haute makeover. Now — ta-dum! — Frittelli's Doughnuts & Coffee has opened in Beverly Hills, just steps away from the fancy hairdressers and Italian restaurants on Cañon Drive.

The look is sleek and very Euro, with dark hardwood floors, granite tabletops and stylish little chairs. The color scheme is powder blue and chocolate, and the doughnuts are displayed in a glass case like chunky bracelets in an array of colors. Taste one — the vanilla cake doughnut with espresso latte glaze, say — and it's clear the sweets here are adult-oriented. It's not all about sugar. The crumb is light and delicate. You can taste the vanilla. And that espresso glaze dotted with ground espresso packs a deep, dark jolt of caffeine.

In the interest of science, my tasting assistant and I worked our way through an easy dozen. We loved the old-fashioned crumb doughnut and the gingerbread glazed with white. The basic cake doughnut is honey wheat with a touch of cinnamon and a clear sugar glaze. The array of doughnuts (all developed by a pastry chef) is daunting — and delicious: English toffee, chocolate with a cherry topping, blackberry-filled jelly doughnuts, Ceylon cinnamon sugar, double chocolate, Vermont maple, fig-hazelnut, etc., etc. They're all made with top-notch ingredients, which would include imported chocolate, fresh fruit and good butter.

Did I mention they also serve doughnut holes, three for a dollar? And that the espresso drinks are excellent? And that if you order some doughnuts to go, they're kind enough to scribble the type of doughnut on the bag and pack the precious cargo in an elegant powder-blue cardboard box? Because most are $1 or slightly more each, $10 buys enough doughnuts for a small crowd.

I stopped in to do a bit more research, had an espresso macchiato, three doughnut holes and another full-size item. My total bill: $3. And I got to read the latest Vanity Fair at a sidewalk table. Not bad, eh? Go ahead and splurge.

The beauty is they're open on Sunday, which might make it tempting occasionally to switch farmers markets and come here for doughnuts and coffee before strolling half a block to the Beverly Hills Farmers Market.


Frittelli's Doughnuts & Coffee

Where: 350 N. Cañon Drive, Beverly Hills

When: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays

Price: doughnuts, $1 to $2

Info: (310) 276-1408,

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