In the early 1970s, after years spent as an analyst in the cocoa industry, John Whaley began experimenting with chocolate in his home. As he worked, he devised a simple recipe for truffles: a secret concoction of whole cream, butter, and cocoa powder. In 1973, he founded 5th Avenue Chocolatiere to preserve and share his findings. Though only three people and one ominous floating brain know the recipe today, shop staff reveals that they hand-craft all of their confections using 100% natural Belgian chocolate.
Each day, the staff casts chocolates in more than 10,000 molds such as motorcycles, New York icons, and dinosaurs. They also turn strawberries and apricots into chocolate-covered fruits, and inject more than 15 flavored truffles with fillings such as raspberry, green tea, and champagne. At children's birthday parties held in private rooms, certified teachers help children mold their own candy on a 40 ft. enrobing machine, as well as dip their own pretzels or little sisters' toys in chocolate.
The Bagel Factory's hand-rolled circlets serve as immaculate foundations for hearty constructions of Boar's Head meats, fresh veggies, and a variety of cream cheeses. Kettle-cooked showstoppers populate the bagelry’s Herculean menu, with a menagerie of exotic bread breeds, including cinnamon raisin, egg, pumpernickel, everything, and infinite nothingness ($0.85/bagel). The selection of specialty sandwiches, available on a bagel, roll, or panini, includes South of the Border, a mariachi mosh pit of pepper turkey, pepper jack cheese, and veggies ($6.99). Or opt for grilled sandwiches available on a bagel or roll, such as the buffalo chicken's miraculous union of spicy dressing, blue cheese, and fiery poultry ($7.99).
Aside from supplying casual vibes, Panorama is known for slinging steamy cups of organic liquids and artfully arranged plates of breakfast and lunch fare. Kick off a day with a Jump Start—two shots of espresso blended with vanilla and cream ($3.45)—paired with a Locura wrap that wraps a whole-wheat blanket around eggs, soy beef, cheddar and monterey jack, salsa, and greens ($5.95). For lunch, snag a Parson burrito stuffed with black beans, lettuce, cheeses, salsa, and sour cream ($6.75; $7.75 with soy beef or chicken) or a veggie burger salad ($6.95), which high fives stomachs with an amalgamation of greens, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese, all topped with freshly diced veggie-burger bits plucked straight from the bur-garden.
A cake draped in fondant cherry blossoms; a cake crowned with an edible gift bow; a cake that could be mistaken for an elegant purse—sweets such as these are custom-designed for weddings, birthdays, and baby showers at Sapienza Bake Shop. The Italian bakery has been in the Sapienza family for three generations. Guided by old-fashioned recipes, rather than whatever appears in the encyclopedia under “food,” its culinary team crafts crunchy biscotti in flavors including coconut and chocolate chip, as well as confections such as the tri-colored rainbow cookie, layered with chocolate and jam. Their éclairs and sfogliatelli, a flaky pastry filled with semolina and ricotta, delight the sweet tooth, as do pies, cheesecakes, and other delicacies.
Pantano's Kitchen keeps its chefs busy all day. Starting with the morning's frittatas and pancakes, they transition to paninis, burgers, and deli fare as the hours progress. But they'll gladly make breakfast specialties all day alongside the more than 200 menu options diverse enough to please entire families or each head of a picky Cerberus. As diners deliberate further on build-your-own burger and salad choices, flat-screen TVs flicker with stock quotes and sporting events.