Don't try to order a cherry cheesecake in December from Marc's CheeseCake. The shop uses only fresh Bing cherries in its recipe, so it's by necessity a seasonal treat. The same goes for a variety of other fruit options, but fortunately, the menu of more than 30 flavors ensures that there's always a dizzying array of choices.
The shop is as choosy about its other ingredients as it is about the fruits. The dairy comes from New Jersey. The cream cheese is?naturally?from Philadelphia, and the chocolate gets imported from Belgium. The resulting cakes are rich, creamy, and full-bodied but a little less dense than traditional New York cheesecake, making them better chess opponents. They're sold fresh and whole, but if your sweet tooth won't let you wait to get home, you're in luck. In the spring of 2014, Marc's started making its own ice cream for guests to enjoy at a couple indoor tables or out on the sidewalk patio. Flavors have grown to include such varieties as Burnt Brown Sugar, Honey Rosemary, and Pretzel Logic to go along with the more traditional vanilla, chocolate, and Cookies and Cream.
The dairy barons behind Yogurt Plus cool fiery appetites with a refreshing menu of self-serve frozen yogurt and other icy treats. Amateur food scientists can craft tasty concoctions from frozen-yogurt flavors ($0.49/oz.) such as dark chocolate, pomegranate, candle-free birthday cake, and rotating sugarless selections before showering creations with more than 30 candy, nut, and fruit toppings. Slurp up strawfuls of Welsh Farms ice-cream shakes ($3.25/16 oz.), bubble teas ($3.50/16 oz.), and puree-laced smoothies ($3.50/16 oz.), or give birthday boys and girls the gift of frozen-yogurt cakes ($14.99 for 6”) instead of shiny new lawn mowers. In addition to tickling taste buds, Yogurt Plus’ fermented confections carry the OU Kosher stamp of approval and boast a host of healthful benefits.
The bakers at Polkadot Cupcake Shop crown their signature red-velvet confections with swirls of icing when they aren?t busy developing adventurous new cupcakes. When the desire for innovation strikes, though, they stir batter infused with the flavors of cinnamon and french toast and top the tiny cakes with sweet maple cream cheese. Cocktail-inspired inventions include a chocolate cupcake steeped in Guinness with irish-cream frosting. Bakers also pull full-size cakes from the oven?s rippling warmth and festoon them with swirls of frosting, fondant, and birthday wishes. To ensure cakes stay pristine, staff members deliver orders to homes and have permanent restraining orders against clumsy rollerbladers.
After more than a decade following different paths in the restaurant industry, friends Donny Giordano and Pellegrino Mongillo merged their culinary passions into Pellegrino's Restaurant & Lounge. In the kitchen, chef Mongillo—a Culinary Institute of America graduate—and his staff combine fresh, seasonal ingredients into dishes inspired by the various regions of Italy. Fresh seafood crops up in the octopus bruschetta and the scallop-, shrimp-, and mussel-flecked orzo. Other offerings include seared hangar steak with provolone and cavatelli pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and chicken.
In the main dining space, servers glide across tiled floors to wood tables set under arched doorways. Behind a granite bar, bartenders mix specialty flavored martinis and pour a range of international wines.
Luis Parada is an unofficial ambassador for Cuban culture. A celebrated musician, he traveled the globe sharing the unique arts of his homeland. But he's also a master of traditional Cuban cooking, having tried his ladle at homestyle dishes that have been passed down through generations. Today, Luis and his fiancee Doris Fenton make it their mission to share the spirit of the island at the Cuban Flavor Cafe. That heritage informs every plate that passes out of the kitchen, whether its a classic Cuban sandwich with roasted pork, ham, and swiss cheese, or a grilled, marinated skirt steak proudly waving a tiny flag. And ears can feast on Cuban flavor as well?live music fills the cozy cafe on Friday and Saturday nights.
It's always flattering when your dessert is the party's favorite. Carousel Cakes—and its bite-size offshoot, Cupcakes by Carousel—knows this feeling well. The bakeries' creative confections have received commendations from every corner of the media, from Time Out New York and InStyle to The View and, perhaps most notably, Oprah, who featured their red-velvet cake in O Magazine and named their blue-velvet cake one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2012. "Gayle fell hard for this blue velvet cake with cream cheese icing and sugar snowflakes," the media icon gushed. "Just add coffee, milk, or a flute of champagne." The treats also sweeten meals at more than 1000 restaurants, including Zabar's and the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Aldo & Gianni Ristorante and Sear Restaurant in Closter, New Jersey.
As a sister company to the family bakery that Martin Lefkowitz opened in 1965, Cupcakes by Carousel specializes in handheld versions of the treats that won all this acclaim. Besides a mini adaptation of the famous red-velvet cake, the staff creates confections such as the Curious George—a vanilla cake filled with banana custard and topped with peanut butter buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache—and its version of Hostess’s Pink Snowball. All the shop's cakes and pies are certified kosher, and staff can even fill up glasses with swirls of their famous frostings and toppings for clients who like their cupcakes sans cake. Cupcakes by Carousel also lends its hand in local communities. Recently, the Englewood shop raised money for girls' education in developing nations through the nonprofit organization She's The First.