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Local Obsessions

The Mean Sweets of New York

by Dannielle Kyrillos

The Mean Sweets of New York

Photo: Daniel Krieger

If you're going to chase a sugar high anywhere, the city that never sleeps seems a pretty smart setting. Dig into the sugary bites of the Big Apple I find most addictive.

You think you're going to Maialino, Danny Meyer's Italian trattoria, for regular breakfast, but what you want to order is the cestino di dolci, a selection of pastries that rachets up your morning excitement level in ways coffee never has. The star is budino, a dense, moist olive oil muffin.

You will find yourself in Chinatown, and you will see a bakery, and you will grab two classics: a steamed pork bun that you'll devour in a bite and a half, and an egg custard bun, which you'll savor just a little longer. It's an eggy cloud of goodness with a flaky crust. You don't want to know how they make it so good, or why it costs about a dollar, but it will make you very, very happy. My regal favorite is Egg Custard King Two Cafe. The name says it all (271 Grand St., at Forsyth St.).

A fine example of "so kooky it just might work" is Otto's olive oil coppetta: olive oil gelato with tangerine sorbetto, lime curd, pineapple rosemary marmaletta, and everyone's wacky but beloved favorite fruit, kumquats.

Traditionalists might opt for The Little Owl's beignets as their go-to. They're perfectly executed classics with raspberry jam and Nutella.

Empellón is helmed by WD-50's former pastry chef, Alex Stupak. But it's his wife, Lauren Resler, who handles the desserts in their muy caliente Mexican cantina. A cinnamon-graced chocolate flan presentation captures all things awesome in this world.

My colleague on Top Chef: Just Desserts, head judge, and tattooed badass, Johnny Iuzzini, is also executive pastry chef at Jean-Georges, and does things there with chocolate that will make you blush. His Chocolate Tasting is a symphony of cacao textures and tastes, ethereal but decadent. Molten chocolate cake, warm brownie chunks, chocolate sorbet, honey ganache, and white chocolate sesame “nitro” might inspire a tattoo of your own.

When pretending to be healthy, you won't feel deprived if you snag a bursting-with-juicy-goodness Asian pear from one of the city's fruit carts. (They're everywhere!)

Maialino at Gramercy Park
2 Lexington Avenue, NYC

Egg Custard King Two Cafe
271 Grand Street, NYC

1 Fifth Avenue, NYC

Little Owl
90 Bedford Street, NYC

230 West 4th Street, NYC

1 Central Park West, NYC

Photo: Daniel Krieger

Dannielle is a series judge on Top Chef: Just Desserts and a style editor extraordinaire. She gives entertaining inspiration at and great musings on Twitter @DKyrillos. She travels for the outdoor showers.


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