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Veniero’s: Ricotta Cheesecake, and Desserts I Cannot Pronounce

October 02, 2007


One fun Manhattan evening, Shann and I had a pretty yucky dinner at a Thai place in the East Village that will go unmentioned for now, just cause it was sooooo bad. After dinner, we had a food disagreement: she wanted ice cream and I wanted not-ice cream. But because we are good friends we quickly resolved the issue and decide that I would get a not-ice cream dessert to go, and then we could take it to Sundae’s & Cone’s where she could get her ice cream and we could sit there and read all the free magazines. But I didn’t know what exactly I wanted, so we walked in the general direction of Sundae’s and Cones…and passed Veniero’s – the sign gleamed like something gleaming out of the dark! It beckoned me in. And in I went.

And what a sight it was!! So many, many things that looked like foreign rubies to someone who’s grown up in the Aloha State. Now you can’t see all the things I saw behind those glass cases because all these happy, dessert-eager people are blocking the way. So the best thing would be for you to come and see it in real life. And the energy in this place! Pull a number ticket, ponder your decisions, and if you haven’t decided by the time they call your number, I’ve found that the people behind the counter are alllwaaays nice, and particularly generous with samples!

The Italian cheesecake looked tempting, especially cause each slice was cut to order to your weight specifications from the large cake. When asked how heavy a slice I wanted, I really had no clue how much one pound, half pound, or quarter pound of cheesecake amounts too, so I just told the nice man, “enough for a girl to eat in one sitting.” And he looked at me and cut a slice that amounted to right about half a pound. I don’t know what that means. But I do know the cheesecake was super awesooome. I like this ricotta much more than cream cheese-based cakes, cause it flies from the creamy end of the spectrum to a chilled sort of lightness, just mildly sweet. I also liked the how it had more texture and body than a buttery smooth NY style one, which can get boring after a few bites. But if you’re looking for indulgence, you’re better off with the NY style cheesecake. However, after tasting this ricotta version, I just may be a convert!

A few weeks later, Shann and I were taking a walk around the East Village after dinner (Shann made shoyu chicken!!), when I suggested that we pop into Veniero’s for a sit down dessert. You know, girl chit chat over (non-alcoholic) drinks and desserts for our sweet tooth. Business was good that Monday night, but we were quickly seated just after a short wait. We placed our orders for two desserts, a iced latte for Shann and started talking – we had a lot of catching up to do! While waiting for our desserts, we asked a man at the adjacent table if he could help us take a picture, and he happily obliged.

Shann to the right, and myself to the left. Shann cooks real good local food!
And here’s the picture! I just realized that I talk about Shann a lot, but I never have any photos of her on this blog! So now you see her in REAL PICTURE LIFE! Yup that Shann. Middle school, high school friend, we were the only two within our close group of friends to end up in NYC for college, and now we’re roommates. That’s a lot of history there! She’s also very fun to eat with! :)

And then the food came! Here’s dessert #1, Zuppa Inglese, essentially a layer of rum soaked vanilla sponge cake followed by layers of vanilla and chocolate custard, another layer of the rum-ified sponge, all finished with buttercream spotted in sliced almonds.

I hate to disappoint you, but it looks much better than it actually tasted. Nothing was wrong, but nothing was special either. Both custards were bland, neither truly tasted of vanilla or chocolate, but it had a real nice, thick and super creamy texture. Standard yellow sponge, only the lightest hint of rum.

Our second dessert was called a pasticiotti. Well I can’t pronounce that for the life of me, but I sure can eat it! This was a really intriguing dessert texture-wise. It’s essentially a basic pastry tart filled with vanilla custard and baked till it forms this super awesome crisp brown ‘skin’. And the custard, it was soo odd. You fork off a piece and put it in your mouth, and then you think, why this is the texture of glue! But a little sweet, and then, waiittt, I kinda enjoy this…but before you can register any more, it just melts, I swear, it just meeelts right in your mouth just like that. It’s a super thick and somewhat sticky custard. It’s strange, but I like it.

Shann’s latte. I wussed out on having a caffeinated drink at night, cause I had to be in the office early the next morning!

We had our two desserts, and thought that was that.

But it was not.

Cause I still wasn’t content.

I wanted more.

So we had another!

But it was neither a cake or a tart, it was gelato!

More specifically, tartufo, a ball of chocolate and vanilla gelato covered in dark chocolate.

It satisfied my dessert craving, but wasn’t very good at all. The gelato was extremely ice-y and the layer of chocolate was too thick for the ratio of gelato. But not everything can be perfect every time, and next time I’ll have the cheesecake again!


But wait…

The story is not over!

So…we hung out a bit more and then around 10:30pm we asked for the bill, cause you know, we had to go back and get some sleep so that we can be PEPPY and WIDE AWAKE for WORK, WORK, WORK!!! So. When the waiter came by, I asked for the bill.

And you know what he said?

“The gentleman at the next table has taken care of the tab.”


That was a first.

We kindly said thank you and chatted a bit with him. And then went home. Brushed teeth. Drank orange juice. Went to sleep. And went to work the next morning.

342 East 11th St.
NY, NY 10003
(212) 674-7070

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