Do you ever cross to the other side of the city for dessert or are you normal? Whether we are finishing lunch in Tribeca, dinner in Hell’s Kitchen, or brunch in Greenpoint, we often end up in East Village. It can take 30-60 minutes to make the schlep, but that’s just part of living here. Unlike in say Florida, or anywhere else pretty much, 30 minutes doesnt feel very long here.
Why dessert in East Village? Same answer as why there’s so much Thai food in Hell’s Kitchen, and do pigeons pee. I’m not really sure. But I suspect its part of the same sad reality I’ve been talking about for many years… location location location. East Village is the last Manhattan neighborhood where mom and pops can still easily open shop. That’s been the case for a while now. But during the last few years, there’s been an inflow of supremely talented bakers essentially completing the picture of Sweets Village.
Between the dessert bars, ice cream, and all the new and old bakeries, you got a wealth of sugary options scattered all over the area. But what makes it an embarrassment of riches is the high quality and the variety of experiences, from a fancy multi course dessert meal to a simple croissant. Ok, not so simple. And as for the quality, I dont ever recall seeing so many lines for sweets on a Saturday afternoon. While you’ll find a bad case of FOMO in every neighborhood these days, in EV its on a block by block basis.
I will not be able to cover all of them, as I have more important things to do, like argue with random people on Twitter, but here are some solid options for your next sweets crawl.
Librae Bakery (35 Cooper Sq) – One of the newer kids already generating much buzz. A Bahrain import, so expect middle eastern influences like Za’atar Labneh Morning Bun. But many, including us line up for the Pistachio Rose Croissants, a rich, airy, ultra flaky pastry, so messy you’ll feed all the resident squirrels on the go.
La Cabra – (152 2nd Ave) – Another new one generating long lines, perhaps the longest of the bunch. A Copenhagen import specializing in coffee, but people flock for the sick cardamom buns. I suspect you’ll see more of that in NYC soon, just like Basque Cheesecakes and other trends.
ChikaLicious Dessert Bar (203 E 10th St) – I’ve written about this place a few times in the past. Chika Tillman is a local legend. Grab a seat at the counter (if you can) and watch her and her talented assistant make magic. Pick the dessert from the menu for $25 and you’ll get a treat before and after. The outrageously light and delicious Fromage Blanc Island Cheese Cake has been on the menu from the beginning. A one of a kind experience in NYC.
Spot Dessert Bar (13 St Marks Pl) – Another fantastic dessert parlor, with full service. Incredibly unique, instagramble creations. Every single item I’ve had here including all the regulars and many specials were insanely delicious. I cant figure out my favorites, though my family is partial to the Matcha Lava, but really just the lava part, not so much the matcha ice cream. The Harvest might be the most famous.
Lady Wong (332 E 9th St) – Another Asian inspired dessert boutique. Run by a creative duo who spent a significant time cooking in high end restaurants in Singapore, including Michelin starred. You’ll see plenty of green items, due to the wide use of Pandan. Give the Panna Cotta a try, especially if you are a coconut lover. A sharp reminder that every dessert should come with a syrup dispenser.
Veniero’s Pasticceria & Caffe (342 E 11th St) – The grandaddy. One of the last remaining old Italian bakeries, offering fantastic cheesecakes, tiramisu, and all the rest of the classics. Its as old as the Brooklyn bridge!
Caffè Panna (77 Irving Pl) – Not in East Village, but close enough (Gramercy) and worth mentioning. This is where we go for some of the best Affogato in NYC.
This is a good start but there’s much more. Another place generating much buzz is Baonanas and its banana pudding. I havent had the pleasure (as of this writing, this may change any hour). There’s also no shortage of quality gelato and ice cream, although the best are just a bit outside of East Village… il laboratorio, Amorino… But deliciousness has no borders. Bon Appetit!