Rochester Magazine readers selected these seven delectable desserts as the city's favorites. Enjoy a bite (or a slice) of heaven with these original and mouth-watering creations!
Banana Cream Pie (pictured above) - Chester's Kitchen & Bar
It’s not wedge-shaped? No. It’s not. This Banana Cream Pie is no ordinary pie—and that begins with its shape. “People expect a triangle,” says Scott Foster, managing partner and executive chef with Nova Restaurant Group. What you get is all the elements of banana cream pie, deconstructed: toasted almonds, walnuts and graham cracker crust; bananas, both fresh and caramelized; custard; and whipped cream.
It all starts with the custard. This pie seems simple and effortless—inspired. But Foster says there was no clear path—he just didn’t want mushy bananas. When he created the custard, the rest fell into place—including those fresh bananas. “You make mistakes and sometimes they turn out to be fun,” he says.
An old family recipe? Um, no. The custard recipe was a happy accident. Foster measured wrong and, in the process, created something that tasted oh-so-right. When he realized he had a hit on his hands, he had to remember how to do it “wrong” again. The rest is history.
Bunnie’s Coconut Cake - Canadian Honker
Who’d guess employees sign confidentiality agreements? Those simple white squares topped with a single Maraschino cherry look like a Pinterest recipe. But then you take the first bite. And you understand why this popular cake has sold more than one million pieces in the cake’s 34-year history, and why the recipe is a well-guarded secret.
Good call, Joe’s dad. “It almost didn’t make the menu,” says Samantha Wilschek, operational manager. “[Owner] Joe Powers’ dad made him do it.”
You need to get it right here. Bunnie’s Coconut Cakes used to be shipped around the world. However, for quality reasons, the only way to get a slice now is to come to Rochester, Wilschek says.
Bunnie's Coconut Cake at Canadian Honker | Rochester Magazine
Tiramisu - Victoria’s Ristorante & Wine Bar
Soak your fingers. The process begins by soaking the ladyfingers—sweet sponge biscuits shaped like, well, a finger—in a batch of espresso, says co-owner Natalie Victoria. This isn’t just any espresso, it’s a whole-bean expresso. So it delivers a strong punch.
“Done correctly, a classic tiramisù can be transcendent.” That’s according to the New York Times, which notes “traditional” tiramisu contains a short list of ingredients: ladyfingers, egg yolks, sugar, coffee, mascarpone cheese, and cocoa powder. While Natalie won’t give up the recipe, she will tell us it’s a very traditional tiramisu with high-quality ingredients—the focus is on taste, consistency, and quality. “The old classic seems to work best,” she says.
Tiramisu at Victoria's | Rochester Magazine
Cannoli - Pasquale’s Neighborhood Pizzeria
Am I in New York? Italy? When you close your eyes and bite into one of Pasquale Presa’s cannolis, he wants you to think of New York and Italy. “We are bringing a part of our culture back that people have forgotten,” Presa says.
Prepared, simply. These creamy, silky, cheesy desserts are deceptively simple. Presa offers small and large pastries, some chocolate-dipped. Presa prefers simplicity in his cannolis, though he says they can be creatively stuffed with goodies ranging from pistachios to raisins. “The perfect cannoli should not taste too sweet,” he says.
The perfect pairing? “You savor the ricotta flavor, the orange flavor, and you have it with a great espresso,” says Presa.
Cannoli at Pasquale's | Rochester Magazine
Tiramisu - Terza Ristorante
Tell your tablemates to get their own. Terza’s tiramisu was designed to be a dessert for one. That’s why it’s made in small batches. People expect tiramisu to be made in a big pan, says Scott Foster, managing partner and executive chef with Nova Restaurant Group, but these require a personal touch.
So you can see the layering. The votive glass was chosen just for this tiramisu. The restaurant’s pastry chef at that time had a vision and searched for the right container to showcase the delicate tiramisu’s look and flavors, Foster says.
Secret ingredient? Terza’s tiramisu recipe includes mascarpone cream, vanilla, and ladyfingers soaked in a secret, but non-traditional Italian liquor. And, no, Foster wouldn’t tell us what it is.
Tiramisu at Terza | Rochester Magazine
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