Articles > The 10 Most Amazing Desserts in New York City

The 10 Most Amazing Desserts in New York City

Taste the sweet side of New York

New Yorkers are often described as salty; but beneath that rough exterior, we can be very sweet. Well… at least, we do enjoy sweets. Nothing can change an urban attitude like a well-made dessert. Thankfully, there is an abundance of sublime sweet experiences that make up the character of our food scene, some that even tell a little story about the city itself. Read on for 10 of our best decadent and divine at 20 different restaurants, serving desserts that are as symbolic of the city as our famous “state of mind.”



Though surprisingly not invented in New York City, the Big Apple’s own style of cheesecake has gone down in the annals of dessert history. What marks that style: cream cheese. The original location of Junior’s in Brooklyn (386 Flatbush Ave.,, has been serving the tart trademark in various styles, from classic to red velvet to raspberry swirl. But let’s face it: The Italians have been making cheesecake well before New Yorkers have. Instead of cream cheese, ricotta does the trick to add flavor and a bit of fluffiness. The Buffalo Ricotta Cheesecake at Rafele (29 7th Ave., comes from Naples-born-and-bred chef Raffaele Ronca’s mother. Its ethereal texture and delicate flavor earned it top mention as one of the nation’s best cheesecakes by Food & Wine magazine.



Baci di Dama from Eataly’s Nutella Bar (Photo: Ron Capistrano)

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt,” cartoonist Charles M. Schulz once said. We’d like to amend that a bit — add some wine, and hazelnuts, and life gets even better. At Park Slope’s Cocoa Bar (228 7th Ave., Brooklyn,, chocolate and wine make the ultimate pairing, as staff will design a tasting of various grades of chocolate and the perfect sipper to match. Those who are nuts for hazelnuts and chocolate need look no further than The Nutella Bar at Eataly (200 5th Ave.,, where they can wallow in crepes, waffles, gelato, pastries and more, all with the chocolate/hazelnut spread as the central ingredient.



Big Gay Ice Cream’s Salty Pimp (Photo: Donny Tsang)


There is no shortage of great ice cream or gelato options around town. But two spots should be credited with upping the ante for both categories of frozen treats. Gelato was common in Little Italy when Otto Enoteca Pizzeria (One 5th Ave., first opened in 2003. But no one had previously come up with the Olive Oil Gelato Coppeta: a masterpiece assemblage of olive oil gelato, passion fruit granita, strawberry, lime curd, basil syrup and pignoli nut brittle. Big Gay Ice Cream (125 E. 7th St., 61 Grove St., brought a sense of joy, unicorns, rainbows and good humor to the ice cream game with soft serves like the Salty Pimp — vanilla soft serve, dulce de leche, sea salt and chocolate dip.




You don’t have to be pregnant, or an exam-cramming college kid, to crave those binge-worthy, feel-good sweets that cuddle your inner core. Momofuku Milk Bar (various locations; is ground zero for the comfort munch, with one-of-a-kind delicacies such as Crack Pie (toasted oat crust with gooey butter filling); cereal milk soft serve ice cream; and cake truffles. Steampunk-themed Boulton and Watt (5 Ave. A; seals the deal with a giant, thick, chocolate chip cookie served in a cast-iron pan and brownie batter in a jar, topped with vanilla ice cream.



The Crepes Suzette being prepared table side at Le Cirque (Photo: Clay Williams)

Take a step back in time with the formality of tableside service from two NYC legends. The 42 year-old Le Cirque (151 E. 58th St., has always been known for its showmanship — of its celebrated host/proprietor Sirio Maccioni, and its food. Crepes Suzette are a particular spectacle here, as a trolley is rolled to the table, and the crepes are prepared before diners’ eyes, complete with the flaming flourish of Grand Mariner. Souffles, gallantly portioned by suit-sporting waiters, have been a signature of La Grenouille ( 3 E. 52nd St., since it opened in 1962. The variety — rosemary pistachio, passion fruit, Calvados, Espresso or chocolate, and the whimsical special — is as timeless as they are delicious.



Churros at El Quinto Pino (Photo: Courtesy of El Quinto Pino)

Some people get homesick; other get “trip-sick,” doing their best to recreate feelings and flavors of favorite travels. Whenever you want to revel in memories of that time you constantly indulged in the sugary dough sticks from street carts in Spain, head over to El Quinto Pino (401 W. 24th St., for brunch, where the elongated doughnuts known as churrros are served with a dulce de leche dipping sauce. Want to remember that elegantly creative meal in Hong Kong? Then enter the sexy sanctum of Hakkasan (311 W. 43rd St., for dessert dim sum, and order the chocolate and black sesame dumplings in a pond of cold ginger and yuzu tea.




English peas with goat’s milk, peanuts, mint at Agern (Photo: Ken Scale)

Two restaurants that happen to be on the cutting edge of dessert flavor and technique trends also happen to be Scandinavian. The 29-year-old restaurant Aquavit (65 E. 55th St., felt brand-new when pastry chef Emma Bengtsson took over as executive chef in 2014. No doubt, Bengtsson’s pastry prowess was a big part of securing two Michelin stars for the restaurant, with desserts such as the Arctic Bird’s Nest and the Grilled Ice Cream and Peach, in which the chef pours cream over charcoal to infuse the base with a “grilled” flavor before churning it into an ice cream and plating over grilled peaches. Pastry chef Rebecca Eichenbaum at recently-opened Agern (89 E. 42nd St., plays on the popularity of veggie desserts in her English Pea, Peanuts and Mint dessert, featuring pea sorbet, a pea-flavored goat milk soufflé, sweet and salty roasted peanuts, finished with mint oil and mint leaves.



Dominique Ansel’s U.P. tasting table menu is ever-changing, but featured here are two golden nuggets made of a sourdough “bread pudding” and a salted acacia honey ice cream, a selection from the Gold Rush-themed Eureka! menu (Photo: Daniel Krieger)

Tasting menu
Sometimes you feel like getting dressed up and going out and having an elaborate tasting menu. And if one can enjoy a savory parade of food, why not a string of sweets? A couple of geniuses around town have run with that notion. Chikalicious Dessert Bar (203 E. 10th St., was the first to this party when they opened 13 years ago. Here, patrons can indulge in a three-course prix-fixe tasting menu that includes an amuse, main dessert and petit fours, including such treats as fromage blanc island cheesecake, white chocolate mousse profiterole and warm chocolate tart with pink peppercorn ice cream and red wine sauce. James Beard Award-winner, and Cronut creator, Dominique Ansel, has an 8-seat dining room devoted to eight-course dessert tastings, paired with wine and spirits. U.P. (shorthand for “Unlimited Possibilities”) at Dominique Ansel Kitchen (137 7th Ave., is so exclusive that tickets are sold 7 weeks in advance.  Menus change every few weeks and are themed. The recent “American Dreams” feature creations such as the “Wall Street” (crispy potatoes, chocolate, caramel and grains of paradise).




New York City has been the breeding ground of many a culinary staple, from the Bloody Mary to the Reuben sandwich. It also lays claim to a legendary dessert, usually not associated with the city. Though its name suggests otherwise, the Baked Alaska was born at Delmonico’s Restaurant (which also claims to be the country’s first fine dining restaurant). The dessert, which is comprised of a meringue “crust” surrounding an ice cream and cake filling, was created by Delmonico’s chef Charles Ranhofer in 1867, and named in honor of the recently-annexed U.S. territory. It is still available at the restaurant today (56 Beaver St., An impressive modern-day version can be found at The Cecil (210 W. 118th St.,, with meringue encasing Nyangbo (Ghanese dark chocolate) ice cream, graham cracker cake and dark chocolate tuile.


Black and White Cookie Ice Cream at Russ & Daughters Café (Photo: Courtesy of Russ & Daughters)

The yin/yang design of the black and white cookie was a recognizable emblem of bakeries around NYC for generations. Russ & Daughters has been selling them for over a century at their original location (179 E. Houston St.). At their two-year-old café (127 Orchard St.,, patrons can indulge in a black-and-white-cookie ice cream dessert — vanilla ice cream, coated with a chocolate shell, served with a cookie garnish. Then there is the Egg Cream, a point of nostalgia for every dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker. The frothy blend of seltzer, syrup and milk went out of fashion with the soda jerk; but Shopsins in Essex Market (120 Essex St., still serves classic chocolate, vanilla and strawberry versions and varieties such as the Marley (with ginger beer) and the Detroit (with ginger ale).

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