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. (Selections by Newsday food staff)
Cinnamon doughnuts, Wildfeast(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
Wildfeast, Long Beach: Finish your meal at this spot with cinnamon doughnuts, whose flaky crust you will enjoy licking off your fingers long after you've paid the check.
The 'teardrop', H2O Seafood & Sushi(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
H2O Seafood & Sushi, East Islip: The "teardrop" dessert, made with layers of chocolate-hazelnut mousse, almond cake and chocolate crunch, is served with vanilla ice cream.
Halvah, Kabobshak Mediterranean Grill(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
Kabobshak Mediterranean Grill, Selden: Halvah, a Middle Eastern dessert made with sesame seeds, pistachio nuts and sugar, is served at this eatery.
Tiramisu, Centro Trattoria(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
Centro Trattoria, Hampton Bays: Tiramisu is tall and fluffy with a nice shot of coffee flavor at this Italian spot.
Chocolate lava cake, Tavern 227(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
Tavern 227, Sea Cliff: The chocolate lava cake is excellent at this eatery.
Garjar ka halwa, RM Bistro Progressive Indian Cuisine(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
RM Bistro Progressive Indian Cuisine, Commack: Garjar ka halwa, a slow-stewed mix of shredded carrots, nuts and ricotta cheese, arrives on a sizzling platter topped with a scoop of the ice cream at RM Bistro Progressive Indian Cuisine.
Bread pudding, Gastronomy Kitchen by Cirella's(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
Gastronomy Kitchen by Cirella's, Huntington Station: The undisputed champ at this spot, located at the Walt Whitman Shops, is the warm bourbon bread pudding: a quart-sized canning jar filled with chunks of custard-soaked bread, chocolate ganache, ice cream and whipped cream.
Dark chocolate with Nutella, Salumi Tapas & Wine Bar(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
Salumi Tapas & Wine Bar, Massapequa: Dark chocolate with Nutella pairs with bread baked in house, dressed with olive oil and sea salt at this tapas spot.
Lemon Doberge cake, Del Frisco's Grille(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
Del Frisco's Grille, Huntington Station: The star of the desserts at Del Frisco's Grille is unquestionably the lemon Doberge cake. This towering six-layer affair of pale sponge filled with lemon curd, frosted with lemon buttercream and enrobed in lemon fondant, stands as a stark rebuke to overthought, deconstructed desserts everywhere.
Churros, The Cuban(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
The Cuban, Garden City: Fried twisted doughnut strips are drizzled with chocolate at this festive, Latin American eatery.
Badam halwa, Saravanaa Bhavan(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
Saravanaa Bhavan, Hicksville: Badam halwa, ground almonds cooked with honey and butter, is a dessert served at this Indian eatery.
PBNJ sandwich, That Meetball Place(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
That Meetball Place, Farmingdale: If you have room for dessert at That Meetball Place, opt for the PBNJ sandwich, with peanut butter, jelly and Nutella between sliced bread dipped in waffle batter and then pan fried. It's everything it should be: crispy, melty, with a timeless chocolate and peanut flavor.
Four-layer chocolate cake, Polo Steakhouse(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
Polo Steakhouse, Garden City: If you are going for the full steakhouse experience, finish your meal with the imposing four-layer chocolate cake at Polo Steakhouse in the Garden City Hotel. Recommended pairing: a tall glass of cold milk.
Carrot cake, Coalhouse Grill(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
Coalhouse Grill, Baldwin: The carrot cake at Coalhouse Grill is moist, with a nice hint of cinnamon and a measured hand with the sweetness of the frosting. It's served in a Mason jar with a plastic spoon in case you want to take it out.
Arroz con leche, La Candela Bistro(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
La Candela Bistro, Hicksville: Arroz con leche at this Peruvian eatery is starchy and creamy, laced with cinnamon and lime.
Espresso flan, Toro Tapas & Tequila(Credit: Doug Young)
Toro Tapas & Tequila, Patchogue: Espresso flan dresses up with berries and coconut-infused whipped cream at this neighborhood spot.
Persian ice cream, Sufiya's Grill(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
Sufiya's Grill, Merrick: Save room for Persian ice cream made with saffron and pistachio at Sufiya's Grill.
Pistachio baked Alaska, The Lake House(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
The Lake House, Bay Shore: The standout dessert at this spot is the pistachio baked Alaska. The small mound of ice cream crowned by toasted meringue is delivered to the table on fire for just a moment. It's a reminder of the kitchen's passion and attention to detail.
Tres leches, Karamba(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)
Karamba, Hampton Bays: Tres leches, a moist sponge cake popular in Latin countries, has a rich, creamy texture with a clean cream, sugar and cinnamon flavor.
Brioche filled with gelato, Manna(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)
Manna, Water Mill: Brioche can be filled with vanilla, salty caramel, stracciatella and other flavors of gelato for this classic Sicilian dessert.
Apple tart, 7T8 European Fusion(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
7T8 European Fusion, Northport: An apple tart shows off candied apples, apple cider reduction, candied walnuts and homemade vanilla ice cream at this city-chic spot.
Flourless chocolate cake, Campagne House(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
Campagne House, Bethpage: This eatery's smooth and dense flourless chocolate cake, accompanied by hazelnut gelato, is just big enough to lasts a few bites, the precise size required to properly finish dinner.
Doughnut ice cream sandwich, Industry Standard Bar(Credit: Randee Daddona)
Industry Standard Bar, Greenport: The ice cream sandwich for dessert at this spot is decisively distinct. A halved doughnut with a giant scoop of vanilla in between, it's rolled in rainbow sprinkles before serving.
Stracchino cheese mousse, Autentico(Credit: Doug Young)
Autentico, Oyster Bay: Stracchino cheese mousse at this Italian eatery is sensational. It's drizzled with honey and served with caramelized nuts.
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.
Panna cotta, Primi Italian Steakhouse(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
Primi Italian Steakhouse, West Islip: Panna cotta is topped with Tahitian vanilla bean and amarena cherries at this eatery.
Crepes Suzette, La Coquille(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
La Coquille, Manhasset: Enjoy the delicate crepes Suzette, amply oranged with fruit, Grand Marnier and Cointreau at this French eatery.
Zabaglione, Franina(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)
Franina, Syosset: Zabaglione with berries and crumbled biscotti is a top dessert for two; deftly executed, exceedingly precise and prepared tableside.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.