I’ve devoured Time Out’s 100 Best dishes and now, once again, I’ve been inspired to create my own list. These are the 100 dishes I have continued to think about since tasting them at some point in 2011. Look for another five dishes every few days. These are in no particular order. 

NUMBER 90: BABY JESUS CAKE at VESTA

Sweet baby Jesus, this cake is good! Vesta is a modern pizza trattoria on the outskirts of Astoria. It’s not close enough to my apartment to warrant regular visits, but I had been hearing about their thin crust pizzas and thought they were close enough to take the chance.

While the pizzas were good, it was the grand finale that I’ve been thinking about since. This slice of ridiculously moist date cake is drowned in a sweet, rich caramel sauce. The side of creme fraiche cuts the dark sweetness, giving it balance.  It’s truly a holy experience!

VESTA
21-02 30th Avenue (at 21st Street)
(718) 545-5550
Astoria, Queens
vestavino.com

NUMBER 89: FROZEN BANANA from NANA’S

The Brooklyn Flea has become so popular with food eater and entrepreneurs, that Smorgasburg was born to host an entire market just for eating and selling foodstuffs.

One of the food vendors who’ve gotten the most press and compliments are Nana’s. This little stand is the brainchild of Cecile Dyer from the gluttonous and delicious Pies n Thighs. It’s very simple, but mighty tasty. She takes a whole frozen banana on a stick and dips it into quickly hardening chocolate, then rolls it in any number of rotating toppings.

I chose a very satisfying mix of textures and flavors – coconut and almonds. It was salty, sweet, chocolatey, and refreshing. Lots of flavors, without complicating the simplicity of a perfect banana. Smorgasburg will be around for three more weeks, but Nana’s is finished for the season. Keep an eye out once the weather gets warmer again. Price: $5 (with one topping)

NANA’S
Twitter: @Yummy_Nanas

NUMBER 88: TIRAMISU at OSTERIA MORINI

I have a weakness for tiramisu. Whenever I finish a red sauce pasta meal, my body begins to crave that boozy, creamy coffee flavor. In my years of eating at Italian restaurants, I’ve had many different versions of this layered dessert – some good, some not so good. But the best I’ve ever tasted happened this year at Michael White’s pasta empire, Osteria Morini.

The version of the dessert here didn’t look like any I had been served before. It was presented beautifully, but frankly, it looked as if it was going to be dry or overly bready. Somehow the layer of espresso cream (or mousse), the moist ladyfingers, the decadent mascarpone, and the hint of cognac worked like magic. I’ve now officially been ruined with tiramisu. I can’t imagine it getting better anywhere else. Price: $11

OSTERIA MORINI
218 Lafayette Street (between Kenmare Street and Spring Street)
(212) 965-8777
Soho
osteriamorini.com/

NUMBER 87: CUPCAKES from ROBICELLI’S

It’s amazing that the cupcake phenomenon is still sweeping the nation. I think may New Yorkers are sort of over it and are trying to look for some new dessert item (pie? macarons?) to replace cupcake fever. But if all the cupcake shops in the city were making specimens as innovative and delicious as Robicelli’s, I think then the cupcake revolution would be justified.

Robicelli’s has a permanent spot at the Dekalb Market, but husband and wife team Matt and Allison also sell their cupcakes at many other locations (including some holiday pop-up’s) throughout the city. I finally purchased some at the now-closed Madison Square Eats. The flavors (which constantly change based on season) were so tempting that I couldn’t leave without purchasing three cupcakes.

These were a perfect, modest size and I was relieved that the cake was super moist and the frosting was the right balance of sweetness. I got to sample the Bea Arthur (black coffee cake, cheesecake buttercream, espresso ganache), the Pumpkin Spice Latte (pumpkin cake, espresso mascarpone frosting, spiced chocolate covered espresso beans), and the Sweet Potato Pie (sweet potato cake, vanilla buttercream, bourbon glazed pecans).

They announce their flavors daily on their Twitter page and I drool just reading them every morning. There’s a list of all their flavors on their website and I seriously want to try every last one of them, but especially the provocative Chicken ‘n’ Waffles (yes, with a real chicken garnish). Price: $3-$5

ROBICELLI’S CUPCAKES
Dekalb Market,
332 Flatbush Avenue (at Willoughby Street)
(917)509-6048
Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn
robicellis.tumblr.com

NUMBER 86: ECLAIR COOKIE at CHIKALICIOUS DESSERT CLUB

I have sung the praises of Chikalicious before on this site. The Dessert Bar might be my favorite place in the entire city, as it gives a unique, delicious culinary experience. I love sending visitors to the city here for a three course dessert.

But across the street, they offer more affordable pastries and cookies to go at the Dessert Club. It’s hard for me to go into the shop and not order their Espresso Ice Shot (which made my 100 Best list last year), but this year I brought a tour group in to taste their much more shareable eclair cookies. And I fell in love myself.

These are a hybrid between cream puff and eclair. The pastry shell is a little crunchier than most and it gives way to a rich vanilla pudding (chocolate if you choose the chocolate variety). The entire thing is dusted with powdered sugar which gives it a sweet aromatic quality. If I could, I’d breathe in sugar all day long. Price: $4.95

CHIKALICIOUS DESSERT BAR
204 East 10th Street (between 2nd and 1st Avenue)
East Village
(212) 475-0929
dessertclubnyc.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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