Dessert Café

This week’s ribbon-cutting ceremony at Berry Opera. (L to R): Jeannie Joe, Councilman Bob Joe, Kylie Mills, Christine Oh, Councilman Richard Schneider, Mayor Marina Khubesrian, Chamber Board Chair Sam Hernandez, Christian Daly and David Kim. Photo by Henk Friezer

Open since July, Berry Opera serves a selection of fresh, high-quality croissants and pastries, cakes, macarons and chocolates, along with coffee and tea.

The café is named after one of the signature menu items created by owner Christine Rhea Oh, who was inspired by French Opera Cake — a layered almond cake with coffee and chocolate filling and icing. Her version, the Berry Opera, features a raspberry flavor, but she also serves a traditional Opera Cake for those who want the classic dessert.

“The opera is a traditional form of musical entertainment that dates back multiple centuries,” said Oh. “South Pasadena has a lot of history and artistic people that live here, so I thought the name was very fitting.”

Located in the space on Fair Oaks Avenue where Cake Sensations used to be, Berry Opera’s interior has been updated with white walls, contrasting gray tile floors and copper accents that make for a simple yet chic atmosphere. 

“I chose lighter colors because I wanted customers to focus on the pastries,” Oh explained. “Each item has its own decorations, so I designed a simple background that wouldn’t distract from them. The first thing that customers notice when they walk in is our bright and modern space.”

Oh grew up in South Pasadena and worked in product design for many years before eventually leaving the corporate world to open a dessert café. The menu features a variety of options, including macarons, cheesecake, Tiramisu and fruit tarts. Baguette sandwiches are also available, along with an assortment of croissants, Danish pastries, Brioche and quiches.

Cakes are available in different sizes, ranging from mini three-inch cakes to large 10-inch cakes. Berry Opera does accept custom orders, however Oh requests that people contact her at least four to five days in advance for simple designs and 10 days in advance for more complex cakes.

“Everything we serve is on the lighter side and not overly sweet,” said Oh. “My main focus is on small desserts with iced or hot coffee and tea options. Every day I start baking at 5 a.m. so that when our doors open, customers can enjoy fresh items. Our coffee beans come from a local roaster in South Pasadena, and I’ve tasted every single bean in order to match our pastries to them.”

Oh never serves second-day items, so at the end of the day if there are any unsold goods left over, she donates them to St. James’ Episcopal Church in South Pasadena. In the near future she plans on adding more healthy options to the menu, and she also wants to host movie nights so that local families with children can come in and enjoy desserts and entertainment.

“I love that I’m getting to know more people in South Pasadena,” said Oh. “It’s great meeting residents and business neighbors in the town where I grew up. Everyone is super friendly and supports local businesses, and I’ve already made a lot of new friends.”

Berry Opera is located at 811 Fair Oaks Ave. in South Pasadena. It is open Tuesday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., and closed on Monday. For more information, call (626) 639-3312 or visit

Berry Opera Business Spotlight appeared in the print edition of the South Pasadena Review on 8.16.19. Support Local Business.

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Kamala Kirk is a contributing writer for the South Pasadena Review, San Marino Tribune and The Quarterly Magazine. Kamala formerly served as Managing Editor of Beauty Launchpad Magazine, West Coast Editor of American Salon Magazine, and Digital Editor for E! Online. A native of Hermosa Beach, California, she is a proud USC Trojan and pug mom to Wrigley the Pug (@pugofpasadena).