Desserts on Long Island: Our favorites
Long Island is getting its just desserts.
And after a taste, you'll think everyone must have been very, very good.
From the homey and the unadorned to the complex and the artful, sweets are back in style and in the moment. Some are updated classics or tweaked standards. Plenty are sprung from the imaginations of creative chefs. There are themed, multisweet finales as well as singular eye-catchers.
Many restaurants are emphasizing seasonal and local ingredients. And more than a few are updating their desserts with daily specials, adding to the year-round staples such as cheesecake and ice cream.
Here are some favorites that stand out after months of dining in Nassau and Suffolk, north and south, east and west.
You always should leave room for them. And if you can't, remember the maxim: Life is short. Eat dessert first.
Crème brûlée, The Trattoria(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
The Trattoria, St. James: The black and white crème brûlée is a deep-dish update on the creamy custard with the caramelized top that so often becomes a cliche. It's a delectable mouthful of both vanilla and chocolate that crackles on cue and will make you reconsider the dish.
Chevere Modern Latin Kitchen(Credit: Marisol Diaz)
Chevere Modern Latin Kitchen, Freeport: The syrup-soaked coconut cake (El Coco) at this spot is of a caliber you'd expect at restaurants charging twice the prices.
Sorbet, BBD's(Credit: BBD's)
BBD's, Rocky Point: Passion fruit sunflower with sorbet, crispy baked meringue cream, and fresh passion fruit seeds leads the colorful desserts created by chef Ralph Perrazzo at this trendy burger joint.
Chocolate cake, The Jolly Fisherman(Credit: Yana Paskova)
The Jolly Fisherman & Steak House, Roslyn: A lush chocolate cake is a fundamental finale served at the end of an abundant dinner at this seafood mainstay.
Pastelitos, Corazon de Cuba(Credit: Barbara Alper)
Corazon de Cuba, Long Beach: An improbable success at this hopping Cuban spot: pastelitos, or empanadas stuffed with creamy rice pudding and served with strawberry sauce. It's excess that works.
Bread pudding, Old Fields(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
Old Fields, Port Jefferson: From the Americas to Europe, modest kitchens to grand ones, bread pudding traditionally is one of the elemental uses for a leftover. But the stellar version here is fresh and refreshing, a lush number served in its own cast-iron skillet, crowned with vanilla ice cream and drizzles of caramel. You'll feel like eating it for breakfast or lunch, and definitely after dinner, perhaps accompanied by an Old Fields ice cream soda.
Dessert trio, Ephesus(Credit: Maria Boyadjieva)
Ephesus, Massapequa Park: Three Turkish desserts for sharing are accompanied by traditionally served Turkish coffee and tea. On the plate: two logs of pistachio baklava, custard baklava and fistik sarma (a pistachio roll).
Miniature dessert medley, Seasons 52(Credit: Johnny Simon)
Seasons 52, Garden City: Miniature desserts are served in small glasses and include a raspberry cannoli, pineapple cheesecake and key lime pie.
Olive oil cake, Grotta Di Fuoco(Credit: Linda Rosier)
Grotta Di Fuoco, Long Beach: Set on a slate, like a modernist still life, is the house's Sicilian-New American riff on olive oil cake with raspberry jam and sorbet -- subtle, balanced, diverting, and exactly what you'd like after a meal of big flavors.
Flan, Cafe Mendoza(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
Cafe Mendoza, Commack: Flan is a mainstay at Latin restaurants. This new spot for tapas and Argentine cuisine enriches the original and offers a mango flan, flavored with the tropical fruit, crowned with small slices of it, and accompanied by berries. Ideal after you've completed the mixed grill.
Chocolate tasting, EAT Gastropub(Credit: Bruce Gilbert)
EAT Gastropub, Oceanside: Vying for top choice at this farm-to-table spot: A chocolate tasting, which feeds two to four and includes an ethereal hazelnut sphere, brownie with caramelized cornflakes, and a frozen raspberry "pop."
Kunefe, Bosphorus Cafe(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
Bosphorus Cafe, Port Washington: One of the world's great pastries, kunefe is a golden disk of shredded phyllo enclosing melted cheese and topped with chopped pistachios and aromatic syrup. It's a Middle Eastern standard, and this Turkish restaurant makes one to order. It's well worth the 10-minute wait, and the best possible reason for trying something other than baklava.
Flourless chocolate-hazelnut cake, Cafe Testarossa(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
Cafe Testarossa, Syosset: Flourless chocolate cake has seemed to lose its vroom-vroom drive in recent years. Café Testarossa revs it up again with its flourless chocolate-hazelnut cake, which can stand elegantly on its own or as part of a trio plate that includes hazelnut gelato and a chocolate egg cream "shooter."
Four-way chocolate dessert, Hush American Bistro(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
Hush American Bistro, Farmingdale: The four-way chocolate and chocolate-themed dessert stars seductive dark chocolate mousse and the textural contrast of dehydrated mousse, plus the crunch of peanut brittle -- and a bit of Riesling-fueled gelée for another layer of flavor. Entertainment on a plate.
Lemon meringue pie, Polo Steakhouse(Credit: Craig Ruttle)
Polo Steakhouse, Garden City: Easily the tastiest and prettiest dessert on the menu, the individual lemon meringue pie is surrounded by dollops of fruit at this opulent steakhouse.
Lychee creme brulee, Be-Ju(Credit: Yana Paskova)
Be-Ju Sashimi & Sake Bar, Melville: Lychee creme brulee is one of the East-West desserts at chef Tom Schaudel's Japanese restaurant, situated inside Jewel restaurant.
Warm apple crostata, Spuntino Wine Bar(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas, Garden City: The best way to conclude a meal at this Italian small-plates wine bar is with the home-style warm apple crostata with salted caramel and vanilla gelato.
Bread pudding, Pico Tequila Grill(Credit: Heather Walsh)
Pico Tequila Grill, Bay Shore: The opulent cranberry-and-walnut bread pudding at this freewheeling Cal-Mex spot is a finale you'll want to keep eating long after it's gone.
Tres leches cake, The Refuge(Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan)
The Refuge Food & Spirits, Melville: Tres leches cake with coconut shavings and whipped cream leads the Latin desserts in the whimsical space that once housed Four Food Studio.
Chocolate-hazelnut layer cake, The Capital Grille(Credit: Johnny Simon)
The Capital Grille, Garden City: Chocolate-hazelnut layer cake is among the sweets at this high-end steakhouse. Try it after your porterhouse, if you have room.
Cannoli, Il Luogo(Credit: Jin Lee)
Il Luogo, Lynbrook: Cannoli with chocolate and orange zest are a decadently rich specialty at this Italian spot. Have them with a strong espresso.
House-made candy bar, Jake's Steakhouse(Credit: Nancy Borowick)
Jake's Steakhouse, East Meadow: This eatery offers a house-made chocolate candy bar as a dessert special. It's a sweet ending to a beefed-up dinner.
'Meatloaf' dessert, Jack Halyards(Credit: Jeremy Bales)
Jack Halyards American Bar and Grill, Oyster Bay: The "meatloaf" dessert is a visual play on shapes and textures with bread pudding, ice cream, a brunoise of fruit, and sorbets.
Nutella bread pudding, Barefoot Peddler(Credit: Barefoot Peddler)
Barefoot Peddler, Greenvale: Warm Nutella bread pudding with hints of espresso and Kahlua, served with house-made whipped cream and warm chocolate drizzle, is a sweet way to end a meal at this pub-restaurant.
Valrhona chocolate terrine, Jamesport Manor Inn(Credit: Randee Daddona)
Jamesport Manor Inn, Jamesport: Sweet endings are served in this handsomely rebuilt local landmark. A top pick is the Valrhona chocolate terrine, topped with roasted pistachios and creme Anglaise.
Tarte tatin, Le Soir(Credit: Heather Walsh)
Le Soir, Bayport: Tarte tatin, a French upside-down apple tart made with caramelized apples in butter and sugar, is professionally caramelized at this light, bright and romantic restaurant.
Gelato, Sant Ambroeus(Credit: Doug Young)
Sant Ambroeus, Southampton: There's no denying that this spot offers some of Long Island's best gelati. People line up for flavors such as passion fruit, hazelnut and deep, deep chocolate. Keep an eye out for celebrities, too.
Flan, Luso(Credit: Heather Walsh)
Luso, Smithtown: Always a crowd pleaser, flan is a top dessert at this Portuguese churrasqueira restaurant.
Challah bread pudding, Amerrickana Tapas(Credit: Jennifer S. Altman)
Amerrickana Tapas & Bar, Merrick: In a dessert inspired by celebrity chef Todd English, challah white chocolate bread pudding is served in a martini glass. It's a must at this tapas bar.