For the fourth year in a row, I present the 100 most exciting dishes I’ve consumed during my food adventures around the five boroughs. Look for another five dishes every few days.
I joke with my tour attendees that there is a separate stomach for dessert. While doctors might disagree with me, I feel like something like that must be true. Because no matter how much I gorge myself at dinner (or lunch), there truly is always room for dessert. And here are five sweet dishes worth splurging on, whether there’s room or not.
NUMBER 30: CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE at CHEZ NAPOLÉON
I don’t really like committing to things in advance. That’s why I’ve never been one for making reservations. But if I want to try a chocolate souffle at a restaurant, I usually have to place the order with my entrée. At the classic French restaurant Chez Napoléon, it can take up to an hour to get the souffle right. And when it comes out, it’s more than right – it’s perfect. The soft fluffy skin is just like chocolate air with a rich chocolatey goodness inside (decadent chocolate sauce was poured in the souffle tableside). If I could, I’d put an order in for one of these at every meal. Price: $20
|365 West 50th Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenue),
NUMBER 29: ESPMUILLA from CHOLITA CUENCANA
I love when food comes me. Normally to sample this Ecuadorian sweet specialty, I’d have to take the subway out to Corona, Queens and find Maria Crespo’s food cart, Cholita Cuencana. That’s where she’s been selling espumilla for the past 25 years. But this year she got a well-deserved Vendy Award nomination, which means she was serving up her dessert at the food event. And so I got to try this mousse/meringue/marshmallow hybrid without travelling too far. Topped on a store-bought cone, the homemade espumilla is made of egg whites, sugar, and fruit (in this case guava and berries). It’s light, airy, and delicious.
|Corner of Roosevelt Avenue and Junction Boulevard
NUMBER 28: CARAMELIZED BANANA TART at THE HARRISON
Is there a fruit better for caramelization than banana? I don’t think so. And thankfully pastry chef Colleen Grapes must agree with me since she has an incredible banana tart on her menu at The Harrison. The sliced caramalized bananas are sweet and delicate and hide a tart full of malted cream. As if that weren’t enough, the pastry shell is made out of pretzels which gives the entire dessert a balanced salty touch. It’s a refined finish to a wonderful meal. Price: $10
|355 Greenwich Street (at Harrison Street),
NUMBER 27: BROWNIES at ROBICELLI’S
Up until this year, Robicelli’s desserts were like finding a pot of gold. Only a handful of bakeries and shops carried their phenomenal cupcakes (best in the city) and even fewer had their brownies. The wonderful news is that Allison and Matt (the Robicelli’s) opened a new storefront in Bay Ridge this year and now we know exactly where to go to get these wonderful goodies. I got to try their legendary brownies for the first time at Village Voice’s Choice Eats festival. They find the perfect balance of the firm chocolatey brownie crust and a fudgy gooey interior. Get thee to Bay Ridge immediately!!
|9009 5th Avenue (between 90th and 91st Street),
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
NUMBER 26: KEY LIME PIE at STEVE’S AUTHENTIC KEY LIME PIES
People don’t believe me when I tell them the best key lime pie in the country is at a little warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s better than anything you’ll get in Florida, believe me. Steve Tarpin hails from Miami and is one of only two commercial bakeries in the country using fresh squeezed key lime juice. It makes all the difference. His graham cracker crust and sweet, light, and tart filling (made with condensed milk) is heavenly. Who knew Red Hook could make you feel like you’re on the sweetest vacation? Price: $28/$18/$5
|STEVE’S AUTHENTIC KEY LIME PIES|
|185 Van Dyke Street,
Red Hook, Brooklyn