Stepping into Walt Itgen's Ice Cream Parlour may feel a little like stepping back in time. Not much has changed in the shop's 40 year history?the hot fudge sundaes are still topped with real homemade whipped cream, and the malts and milkshakes are still thick enough to eat with a spoon. The charm of the homemade ice cream creations is only enhanced by the shop's vintage surrounds, which include a long counter with red leather stools, and booths that offer just enough privacy for couples on first dates or adults who like to play with their food without ridicule.
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.
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.
The Bagel Factory's industrious bakers kettle-cook fresh, hand-rolled bagels each morning, providing solid foundations for rich cream cheeses. The menu's avalanching array of regular bagel varieties includes cinnamon raisin, whole wheat, garlic, egg, and pumpernickel, great for silencing tummies' grumbles and garage-band practices. In addition to preparing an array of freshly baked pastries and desserts, the kitchen staffers sandwich Boar’s Head meats and cheeses between bookends of bagel, roll, or panini bread slices. They also provide lighter options such as build-your-own salads, which come topped with the customer’s choice of meat, dressing, and toppings.
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.