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Bomboloni: very poor

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mahler5 Mar 27, 2010 03:02 PM

I went to Bombolini yesterday with the highest of hopes. I am sorry to report that their bombolini do not resemble anything I ever ate in Italy, nor do they resemble anything in the doughnut family that I have ever encountered. In a word, they are terrible. They resemble leaden fried biscuits more than anything else. If they use a yeast dough, I'd be extremely surprised. Their so-called Valrhona bombolino must also be false advertising: it had no chocolate flavor whatsoever and the glaze had a waxy texture. These are certainly the worst doughnuts I've ever had in New York and perhaps anywhere.

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  1. f
    fm1963 RE: mahler5 Mar 27, 2010 04:33 PM

    Yup, I was quite disappointed as well. I also had the Valrhona today and it was flavorless.

    1. u
      uwsister RE: mahler5 Mar 28, 2010 12:21 AM

      What a disappointment :(
      I've been looking forward to the opening for a LONG time!

      1. d
        David W RE: mahler5 Mar 28, 2010 07:52 AM

        We stopped in yesterday and had a "regular" and a pistachio, and while it was better than terrible, it wasn't very memorable. There's very little cream filling in them at all, too.
        One other annoying factor-they are $1 a piece, but they charge tax on that, so it's really $1.09...which means everyone is fumbling for change or waiting for them to count out the change.

        1. k
          KateMW RE: mahler5 Mar 28, 2010 10:08 AM

          I'm sorry to hear this. I wanted to try them when we came this summer. Looks like they might not be there by then.

          1. d
            dietndesire RE: mahler5 Mar 28, 2010 10:23 AM

            Is this really a surprise?

            1. w
              wew RE: mahler5 Mar 28, 2010 01:10 PM

              "...and while it was better than terrible, it wasn't very memorable...."
              A classic example of what a poster on the outer borough board called parsing mediocrity.
              There are at least very decent bombolini to be had on this island.

              1. Miss Needle RE: mahler5 Mar 31, 2010 11:54 AM

                Oh, you took the words right out of my mouth. Texture was all wrong -- leaden fried biscuits is the apt description. A bombolini should be fluffy and tender. I tried the custard, Valrhona, strawberry and pistachio. I would probably say my favorite would have to be the pistachio. The Valrhona was the worst as it wasn't very chocolate-like. I think I've had Swiss Miss pudding that had more cocoa in it. Points for serving them warm.

                The workers there were very nice and enthusiastic. The "Bon Giorno" is a bit cheesy, however. I would like a place like this to succeed. I really think they need to rework the recipe so that you have a dough that is fluffier and lighter. Be a bit more generous with the fillings. I'm wondering if they've done their market research and tried some of the bombolinis in town that are decent -- eg. Alto, Flex Mussels. I hope the owner is reading this because the idea of a bomboloni place is fantastic.

                -----
                Flex Mussels
                174 East 82nd Street, New York, NY 10028

                9 Replies
                1. re: Miss Needle
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                  chocokitty RE: Miss Needle Mar 31, 2010 01:24 PM

                  I remember a few years back there were bomboloni sold at Cafe Falai. I'm not too sure if they still sell it but it was pretty good.

                  Tina
                  http://thewanderingeater.com/

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                  Falai
                  68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                  1. re: chocokitty
                    j
                    j.jessica.lee RE: chocokitty Apr 1, 2010 06:57 AM

                    Yes, Tina. As of a year ago, there were bomboloni at least at Falai Panetteria and they were really good! I have to say, though, that the raspberry filling in the jam-filled bomboloni was a little strange. If they were filled with the Bouchon Bakery raspberry filling, it would be heaven. I think I also tried the custard filled, which was great.

                    I also like the Sullivan Street Bakery ones, but they are much more "bread" like, like Bouchon's, and have much less filling. The ones at Falai are much more airy and yeasty and fluffy and are sort of similar to the ones at Boriana's Corner at the Ferry Building for those of you from SF.

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                    Sullivan Street Bakery
                    533 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036

                    Bouchon Bakery
                    10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

                    Falai
                    68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                    1. re: chocokitty
                      Miss Needle RE: chocokitty Apr 2, 2010 04:37 PM

                      Tina, I have heard that there were some delicious ones at Cafe Falai. I haven't checked it our but plan to at some point. And, jessica, I do like the ones at the Ferry Building an awful lot. So it seems I would definitely like Falai's.

                      On a side note, I've got to say that I'm a bit surprised by the almost perfect reviews on Yelp for Bomboloni. I'm wondering if these posters ever had bomboloni before.

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                      Falai
                      68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                      Bomboloni
                      187 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10023

                      1. re: Miss Needle
                        coasts RE: Miss Needle Apr 2, 2010 07:28 PM

                        for sure, websites like yelp pay people to write reviews. that's why i only trust you guys.

                        1. re: coasts
                          w
                          wew RE: coasts Apr 3, 2010 09:50 AM

                          I have repeatedly had them at Cafe Falai and they are still there. The jam and cream are my favorites, the chocolate too heavy for me.

                          -----
                          Falai
                          68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                        2. re: Miss Needle
                          u
                          uwsister RE: Miss Needle Apr 11, 2010 10:09 PM

                          I see a couple posts where the poster has no other reviews, no friends. Not that I'd only trust those "Elites" either, but I think that's suspect. I'll probably stop by one of those days eventually, but the reviews aren't making me rush there anytime soon.

                      2. re: Miss Needle
                        o
                        orthorunner RE: Miss Needle Apr 2, 2010 08:28 PM

                        Despite all the negative reviews, due to the fact that I wanted to like this place I went to try Bombolini out today. Miss Needle's points are spot on: the atmosphere is wonderful; the execution, terrible. I tried an apple bombolini, and was surprised (despite reading reviews) of how heavy it felt when I was handed it. I actually liked the interior apple filling; not too sweet. However, the exterior was not appealing at all. I must admit to squeezing out the filling and then tossing the left over dough!
                        However, on a positive note, while there I tried their gelato. Does anyone know if this is theirs or if they get it from one of the gelato places in manhattan? I tried the fig and it was very good. Perhaps they should turn into a gelato store...it was actually more popular than the bombolini when I stopped in.
                        One other thing I noticed: they need to figure out a better system for serving customers. Because the gelato was so popular, they have a very haphazard way of helping customers and no clear line. For old school butcher shops, I overlook that kind of fault. For a place trying to focus on service and overcome the faults of food, not so forgiveable!

                        1. re: orthorunner
                          f
                          FattyDumplin RE: orthorunner Apr 10, 2010 05:27 PM

                          their gelato is indeed quite delicious. not sure if they make their own. but the dark chocolate gelato is properly bitter and rich, the mint chocolate chip is also nice, and the mango sorbet was full of fresh mango flavor without being too sweet.

                        2. re: Miss Needle
                          u
                          uwsgrazer RE: Miss Needle Apr 17, 2010 06:56 PM

                          I'm no bombolini expert, in fact the ones I had today were probably my first ever. They were okay but nothing I would go out of my way for. I agree, dough was rather heavy. We got one raspberry and two traditional (I think), filled with a custard filling. We waited a couple of minutes for the fresh traditional ones, though they actually didn't seem particularly warm. The raspberry one was considerably larger and had more generous filling. Raspberry was our favorite.

                          The place had a steady flow of traffic during our Saturday afternoon visit. In fact, they were running pretty low on bomboloni selection. I think they only had at most two flavors in the case ready for sale. Staff was friendly and the manager standing around was pleasant too.

                          We'll probably go back to try some of the other stuff, like gelato and pizza. I'd also like to see them succeed and hope they improve the bomboloni recipe and have more available in the case (but still fresh) for immediate purchase.

                        3. Toot RE: mahler5 Mar 31, 2010 11:58 AM

                          Sullivan Street Bakery at 47th St. has wonderful bombolini.

                          -----
                          Sullivan Street Bakery
                          533 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Toot
                            Miss Needle RE: Toot Mar 31, 2010 12:04 PM

                            Is Sullivan the only one that carries it? Grand Daisy used to carry them (the nutella is so good!). But when I went recently, the workers said that they never heard of it.

                            1. re: Toot
                              vvvindaloo RE: Toot Apr 13, 2010 03:35 PM

                              I agree - they are not the most attractive I've seen, but I like the fact that they look homemade and are a little bit on the heavy side. Their vanilla custard is optimal in quality and incredibly fresh.

                            2. Miss Needle RE: mahler5 Apr 10, 2010 08:00 PM

                              I need to update my previous report. Stopped by today and tried the creme brulee bomboloni. They've made a few changes.

                              1. Tax is now included in the $1 price. The tax didn't really bother me, but it now makes it easier to pay.

                              2. Dough has been lightened up. Still not fluffy and pillowy but a huge improvement from the previous time.

                              3. The bomboloni was generously filled.

                              4. It wasn't as crowded today as I went the previous week. As I went on the same day around the same time, I'm wondering if the hype is dying down or if it was just oddly pretty quiet today. Because it wasn't that crowded, the bomboloni wasn't warm. But it was still better than the ones I've had previously because the dough was fluffier.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Miss Needle
                                m
                                mahler5 RE: Miss Needle Apr 15, 2010 03:35 PM

                                Since the original posting was mine, I'll make a follow-up visit.

                                1. re: Miss Needle
                                  c
                                  check_please RE: Miss Needle Apr 16, 2010 09:57 AM

                                  I agree that Bomboloni's bombolini have improved by getting lighter, but I still find them overly cakey. Creme brulee filling is very good -- not too sweet. What is really excellent here is the espresso, made from Sicilian beans, rich and earthy, and easily the best in the neighborhood. Sipping a macchiato at the marble counter reminded me of Sant'Eustachio in Rome.

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                                  Bomboloni
                                  187 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10023

                                  1. re: Miss Needle
                                    Striver RE: Miss Needle Apr 17, 2010 07:14 AM

                                    Based partly on your revisit (yes, I trust you :)), my wife picked up 6 bomboloni yesterday which we shared. Basic report: good overall - not great - but still too dense, IMO.

                                    As for the individual flavors, our favorites were definitely the raspberry (particularly well filled), the apricot and the "traditional" (vanilla). The chocolate was disappointing (but I must add that in our experience, Italian chocolate pastries are never really satisfying - there's never enough depth of chocolate flavor, unlike French or Viennese), and the Creme Brulee was not particularly distinctive (and had the sparsest filling to boot).

                                    That said - and bearing in mind that we didn't eat them fresh (except for a warm one my wife had right after purchase, which she said was definitely preferable to eating them later), we'll return when in the neighborhood for a raspberry or traditional, and will probably give the pistachio a try.

                                    1. re: Striver
                                      Miss Needle RE: Striver May 12, 2010 05:46 PM

                                      Striver, I've been there a couple of more times since my last report. They have lightened up the dough some more. The last time I was there, I found the dough to be satisfactory. On the other hand, I felt the fillings needed some work. I got the traditional and the tiramisu. Both fillings were too chalky. But I was much happier with the dough. A far cry from the leaden biscuit dough I had the first time.

                                      Yes, nativeNYer, I think it's great that they're listening to criticism and making alterations.

                                      btw, the price now is $1.25 (including tax) and seems to be a bit larger.

                                      1. re: Miss Needle
                                        n
                                        nativeNYer RE: Miss Needle May 12, 2010 09:52 PM

                                        thanks for keeping us posted. haven't been back yet although i am only 4 blocks away.
                                        looking forward to trying very soon.

                                    2. re: Miss Needle
                                      n
                                      nativeNYer RE: Miss Needle Apr 17, 2010 05:27 PM

                                      I give them credit for learning from the criticism. That's admirable.

                                    3. LeahBaila RE: mahler5 May 4, 2010 08:54 AM

                                      The bomboloni at Jacques Torres is literally to die for. Give it a try!

                                      www.thelunchbelle.com

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                                      Jacques Torres
                                      285 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10023

                                      1. c
                                        coookies RE: mahler5 Jun 1, 2010 07:15 AM

                                        was walking past this place over the weekend after dinner at Harry's Burritos and decided to stop by. was pretty stuffed but thought id get just one, tried the last nutella bombolini and it was fantastic! it was so light and fluffy with the right amount of filling, i cant vouch for the rest of them but for $1.25 you cant go wrong, will definately be going back to try some other flavors. based on all the negative feed back, i am guessing they have tweaked the recipe a lot since openeing, worth a second try

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: coookies
                                          n
                                          nativeNYer RE: coookies Jun 1, 2010 08:12 AM

                                          yes, they have. i finally went back and they were very different from the ones i tasted shortly after they had opened. they are very receptive to feedback.

                                          1. re: nativeNYer
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                                            FattyDumplin RE: nativeNYer Jun 1, 2010 12:18 PM

                                            and their gelato/sorbet continues to rock. had the strawberry sorbet this weekend. a little too sweet for my taste, but full of strawberry goodness.

                                        2. s
                                          stormrunner RE: mahler5 Jun 12, 2010 04:11 AM

                                          This place is owned and run by the same people that own and run Lansky's two blocks up and Sushi a Go-go on Broadway, across Lincoln center. They are also going to open a "Mexican" place right next door. It's all about marketing and cashing in on the UWS. I agree that the Bonbolini miss the mark completely, I bought two, neither was memorable. Lol, their pizza and frittata are made at Lansky's ! When they open the Mexican place, they'll probably be making the tacos at Sushi a go-go.

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                                          Lansky's Old World Deli
                                          235 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10023

                                          1. m
                                            mahler5 RE: mahler5 Jun 17, 2010 03:39 AM

                                            It's been over 2 months since my original posting, so I thought I'd make a follow-up visit. The experience will not be repeated. While the bombolini have improved, they are still sub-par in every way.

                                            Jacques Torres makes bombolini (actually they're bigger---real donuts) on weekends. They are definitely worth the wait.

                                            -----
                                            Jacques Torres
                                            285 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10023

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