Tag Archives: West Village

NYC Cheesecake: Rocco’s vs. Veniero’s

Back in October 2013 in Dina’s Guide to NYC Italian Bakeries on my blog, I declared that Pasticceria Rocco on Bleecker Street in the West Village had the best New York-style cheesecake in the city. Four years later, do they still? I decided to compare theirs to Veniero’s for a West Village/East Village cheesecake challenge.

On a recent trip to Rocco’s, I got a slice as well as some taralli for the road. I love the creaminess of this cheesecake. In my book, it has the perfect consistency that I look for in cheesecake. In addition, it has the right amount of sweetness, which is not too much.

For the first time, I tried Veniero’s cheesecake. Veniero’s is located on E. 11th Street in the East Village. A nice creamy texture and good flavor, not too sweet. A serious contender, but for me, Rocco’s has a little something extra that makes it keep top spot on my list.

Of course, you can do your own cheesecake taste test and see which old world Italian bakery makes the best cheesecake to you.

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The New Italy in New York: Rossopomodoro Neapolitan Cuisine

Rossopomodoro is a restaurant in the West Village specializing in Neapolitan cuisine.  I would classify it as a modern take on Neapolitan cuisine that also highlights some of the classics like Margherita pizza and dishes like pasta
Genovese.  I met a dear friend here for lunch.  The host and waiter were friendly and made this a lovely experience.

For a starter, we shared the polpetta di melanzane, or eggplant meatballs, which of course, were vegetarian. And very good!

For our entrees, we got pizza to share. First, the Margherita pizza.  This pizza was very nice.  The tomato sauce in particular had a very fresh, sweet tomato flavor.  This pizza was not as “wet” in the middle as Neapolitan-style pizza tends to be.

We also got the Genovese pizza with mozzarella di bufala, basil pesto, pecorino and chili.  This pizza was a bit spicy with the chili but not unpleasantly so.  Just the right amount.

The bright red and green colors on our table were reminiscent of the Italian flag!

For a side dish and a bit of vegetable, I got the broccoli rabe, which was cooked perfectly–not bitter at all.

For dessert, we had the semolina lemon cake with strawberry gelato.  This had such pure, delightful lemon flavor that you really did not need the gelato.  The cake was that good on its own.

We also shared the Nutella panna cotta. Cream and Nutella, what more can I say?

A highlight about the menu for those with gluten issues is the gluten-free pizza, which from the sound of reviews, is pretty great.

Gray’s Papaya Closing

So the big NYC food news is that Gray’s Papaya is closing its West Village location due to a rent hike.  It is iconic, known for its super cheap hot dogs.  I admit, though, that I only ate there once, while a student at NYU.  I’m not a big hot dog person, so it wasn’t top on my list.  But it’s always sad to see an iconic restaurant, especially one in the Village, close.

Lunch: Umami Shoppu

I really wanted to try the ramen at Umami Shoppu in the West Village, but when I went here for lunch, I was craving sushi.  So I ordered a lunch special of two rolls and salad for $9.  A great deal in NYC!

My salad:

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My sushi:  a Philly roll and a salmon avocado roll.  A great value for lunch.  I do want to return to try the ramen some time, as it sounds delish!

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Afternoon Tea: Tea & Sympathy

One of my favorite places in NYC is Tea & Sympathy on Greenwich Avenue (not to be confused with Greenwich Street) in the West Village.  I have been going to this haven for British ex-pats and Britophiles for a long time.  My favorite thing to get is the afternoon tea for one with finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and assorted cakes.  It is truly a special treat.  It used to be very hard to get seated here with a long wait, but these days when I come, I’m seated right away.  On this latest visit with a friend, I got scones with clotted cream and they were deliciously wonderful, as always.

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Of course, I got tea in these adorable tea pots.

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My friend ordered the shepherd’s pie and enjoyed it very much.

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Two for Tuesday: Croissant Doughnuts and Bagel Balls

Is there anything better than a doughnut, a croissant or a bagel?  Can you really improve upon perfection?  Well, the popularity and the “black market” cronuts would have one believe that you can.  Having never tried a cronut, I can’t speak to them.  I have tried the knockoff at Crumbs and wasn’t impressed.  On a recent trip to the grocery store Food Emporium, I tried two of its “croissant donuts”:  strawberry and salted caramel.  At first glance, they look delicious.  Knowing that they come from Food Emporium makes one believe they will taste like grocery store baked goods.  And guess what?  They do–but in a really yummy way.  I have to say I enjoyed the cream in both of these, especially the strawberry.  I still have yet to taste an authentic cronut, but these are pretty darn good.  They have layers like a croissant but more of a doughnut flavor.

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Is this better than a doughnut or a croissant?  Well, no, I like both for different reasons.  I like my doughnuts sweet with jelly or sugar and my croissants savory with butter.  So I probably think of these more as doughnuts.

At Bantam Bagels on Bleecker Street in the West Village, the bagels are small, round balls of bagel dough filled with cream cheese…well, not always.  The takeout spot has a variety of bagels to choose from.  I got a French toast, an everything and an onion bagel.  The first thing they do is toast these in a small oven.  I wish they would ask if you want them toasted before they put them in the oven because I don’t like toasted bagels.  The French toast bagel was my favorite.  It was flavorful, cinnamony and had an ample amount of a sweet cream cheese inside.  The onion bagel had a dot of butter inside.  These were a real disappointment because they didn’t have enough cream cheese inside and some had no cream cheese at all (which I didn’t know because I made an assumption when I saw onion that it would just have cream cheese in it).  Also, the dough is hard.

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Bantam bagels are $1.35 each.  While I enjoy a little experimentation, it’s hard to justify charging a high price for something that just isn’t that great.

This idea reminded me of bagel knots from Chesapeake Bagel Bakery.  They were a pastry made from bagel dough with an icing on top.  They were delicious, but the bakery discontinued making them.

7 NYC Candy Stores

When I was a kid, I remember trick-or-treating in my neighborhood and getting large-sized chocolate bars of many of the popular candies.  There was a woman who always gave out popcorn balls and a doctor who gave out apples.  They were not my favorites, but looking back on it, those were more of the memorable Halloween treats.  As I got older, I noticed the candy became smaller, as people opted for smaller-sized treats to give out, probably due to the cost of candy.

I don’t think of specialty candy when I think of Halloween candy, but if you are in the city for Halloween and want to pick up some candy or find yourself a sweet treat to celebrate, here are some candy stores to visit.  Admittedly, I am not a big candy eater, so I don’t frequent candy stores all that often.  My favorite candy store in the city is Sockerbit because I have a like for all things Scandinavian, and I like the tart gummy candies.

Meatpacking District

Sugar Factory–At Sugar Factory, you can get a variety of candy cocktails with flavors of popular candies like Jolly Rancher, Blow Pop, Lemon Heads and Hubba Bubba bubble gum with a real piece of Hubba Bubba.  There are also 60-oz. drinks in ginormous goblets.  Sugar Factory is a restaurant, but it also has a retail candy store.

46 Gansevoort Street (between Washington Street & Greenwich Street), (212) 414-8700, www.sugarfactory.com/new-york-citys-meatpacking-district-0

Midtown East

FAO Schweetz–A candy store inside the famous toy store.  It has all types of candy, including giant gummy bears.

767 5th Avenue, (212) 644-9400, www.fao.com

FAO Schweetz
FAO Schweetz

Little Italy

Papabubble–If you like hard candy, Papabubble is the place for you.  The shop is a modest size and specializes in artisan hard candy in a variety of shapes and flavors.

380 Broome Street (between Mott Street & Mulberry Street), (212) 966-2599, www.papabubbleny.com

Lower East Side

Economy Candy–An old-fashioned candy store with all kinds of candy, including nuts and jelly beans.  They also have novelty gift items like Pez and specialty candies like halvah and Turkish delight.

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108 Rivington Street (between Ludlow Street & Essex Street), (212) 254-1531, www.economycandy.com

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West Village

Sockerbit–A Swedish candy store with all kinds of colorful licorice and gummy candies in sweet, sour and tart varieties.  My favorite of all the candy stores listed.  They also have a limited selection of Scandinavian knickknacks and gourmet food products.

89 Christopher Street (between 7th Avenue South & Bleecker Street), (212) 206-8170, www.sockerbit.com

Swedish sweets

Swedish sweets

The London Candy Co.–For the expat Brit or Britophile, the London Candy Co. has all  your favorite candy from the UK.

267 Bleecker Street (between Cornelia Street & Morton Street), (212) 427-2129, www.thelondoncandycompany.com

Sugar and Plumm–The main location of this candy store is on the Upper West Side, but this outpost is a candy store and bakery.  The UWS location is a bistro with a full menu along with a retail candy store.  The desserts here will satisfy any sweet tooth!

257 Bleecker Street, (212) 388-5757, www.sugarandplumm.com/