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Apr 23, 2012 11:59 PM

Dessert scene in Philly?

Hi there! I'm new to Philly and hoping to find some fantastic dessert places to explore in the area. I don't have a car yet, so I'll probably be roaming around Center City for now... anyways, any suggestions to amend / add to my budding list below are welcome!

1) Budino @ Barbuzzo
2) Macarons @ Sugar Philly Truck
3) Macarons @ Miel Patisserie
4) Whoopie Pies @ Flying Monkey
5) Gelato @ Capogiro's
6) Froyo @ Yogorino
7) Chocolate cake @ 4th Street Deli
8) Cupcake @ Brown Betty

For the most part, I will eat just about any sweet confection, but my personal favorites are macarons (now that I think about it, I guess that was kind of obvious seeing as how they were listed twice.) Other than Miel and Sugar Philly, is there a hands-down awe-inspiring macaron place you'd recommend? Or are those the best in the city?

And is it just me, or is Philly crawling with cupcakeries and cupcake trucks? Does anyone know why that is? I may be completely wrong, but that's the conclusion I'm coming to through my Googling. :P

Thanks in advance!

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  1. The desserts at Koo Zee Doo (Portuguese BYO in Northern Liberties) are some of the best in the city. I'm not a fan of Flying Monkey. The chocolate cake at Famous 4th St. is good but I wouldn't say it's one of the best desserts in Philly. I like their carrot cake more. They're really more famous for their chocolate chip cookies.

    I haven't been there yet but you may want to check out Belle Cakery on E Passyunk Ave, it's run by the pastry chef at nearby Fond restaurant, I've had some great desserts there.

    Some other favorite desserts at restaurants where you can just go to the bar and get dessert:

    - Vegan cheesecake at Vedge
    - Polenta budino at Osteria
    - Many desserts at Zahav

    Other restaurants with good desserts: Fond, Meme, Koo Zee Doo as I mentioned, Kanella. I'll probably think of more later.

    Oh, we also have a really world-class chocolatier not far away in West Chester, PA, Chris Curtin's Eclat Chocolates. It's worth a trip out there to sample all the varieties they have on hand but if you want to get a sample of what they can do, they sell boxes of Eclat chocolates at Fork, Etc. (3rd and Market).

    12 Replies
    1. re: Buckethead

      +1 on the polenta Budino from Osteria. I like it better than the budino at Barbuzzo.

      I really like the pizzelle and salted butter semifreddo sandwich at Amis.

      1. re: cwdonald

        I am not a big fan of the macarons at Miel (I think they are just OK). I think the chocolate brownies are a much better choice at Flying Monkey personally. The budino at Barbuzzo is good but I am more of a chocolate peanut butter pretzel at Mueller's in Reading Terminal person.

        The chocolate cake at 4th St Deli? Really?

        If you like pecan or key lime pie, Percy St. BBQ has really good ones. They also just added a banana cream one that I have yet to try.

        1. re: bluehensfan

          Banana Cream Pie report from Percy St. - It's really good.

          An individually sized pie with creamy banana filling, a small amount of whipped cream top with a crust that is infused with extremely small pretzel pieces (too small to add any crunch) that give it a great salty taste along the line of sea-salt caramels...

        2. re: cwdonald

          The pizzelle sandwich at Amis is actually really damn good, but I think they took it off for the spring menu. Another awesome thing they used to have was an amaretti semifreddo, but alas they are no more. :(

          How about the hot chocolate and chocolate shakes & cakes at Golosa Cafe? I had a pretty great cardamom and white pepper chocolate shake there a few days ago.

          1. re: deprofundis

            Assuming the menu online is the new menu, the pizzelle is still on there (last dessert). I have not had the new spring menu though I went a few weeks ago to have a wonderful preparation of ramps peccorino and pasta.

            1. re: cwdonald

              That's still the winter menu. The pizzelle sandwich and the banana tart are gone. They now have a blueberry ricotta tart (I had that last week - yum), a salted butter semifreddo sundae, a rhubarb prosecco granita, and maybe something else I can't remember.

              1. re: deprofundis

                Whats interesting is most of the dishes up above are new. Perhaps they were in a transition.........

                1. re: cwdonald

                  They change a large portion of the menu every season, but there are a few things they always have. They always have the rice pudding, tartufo, tiramisu (even though it's not on the menu), and affogato. Osteria always has the polenta budino (which is awesome, btw). Vetri always has the chocolate polenta souffle (also amazing).

          2. re: cwdonald

            I third the polenta budino at Osteria. One of the best desserts of my life.

          3. re: Buckethead

            I tried it once and just did not get the fuss over the budino at Osteria. All I got out of it was the overwhelming/overpowering taste of hazelnuts - maybe that's just not once of my favorite flavors. I have loved basically every dessert I've tried at Amis, though, but I'm the weird person out around here who in general likes Amis better.

            1. re: Buckethead

              + another on the Osteria Budino. The recipe is incredibly simple, as well, and turns out perfectly. I was far more impressed by it than the polenta souffle at Vetri.

              I also feel like there should probably be a canoli on here, probably Termini's.

              The dark chocolate gelato at Capogiro.

              Would also put the Canele de Bordeaux from Market Day Canele (sold at La Colombe) on the list.


              1. re: uhockey

                My dinner at Vetri last night included an epic pistachio flan with white chocolate gelato for dessert. If you haven't had it yet, GET IT!

            2. I think I remember seeing macarons in the case at Garces Trading Company.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Philly Ray

                yes, the macarons there are terrific! esp the salted caramel (?) ones...i think theyre salted caramel but my memory could be failing me

                it's more than just ice cream also has terrific coconut cream pie. havent tried their other desserts, but they have many others

                happy eating :)

              2. Cupcakes at Whipped

                Whipped Bake Shop
                636 Belgrade Street, Philadelphia, PA

                And various things at Tartes, which is the smallest bakery I have ever seen.

                212 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
                (Center City)


                When you do get a car, head out to Wayne and try everything at Aux Petits Delices
                162 East Lancaster Avenue, Wayne, PA 19087

                Back in the city there is a classic French Bakery focused more on the savory side that do some nice dessert Puff Pastries and Croissants at Artisant Boulanger Patissier
                1646 South 12th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148

                (Do not be fooled by the fact that this is a Vietnamese family making these breads and pastries...they do Classic French baking very well)

                Kaplan's New Model Bakery in Northern Liberties is OK for muffins. Nothing special.
                901 North 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123

                I think that Whole Foods in the Art Museum neighborhood and on South Street do some fine work. No complaints so far (just make sure that you are getting their classic baked goods and not the ones focused on providing you with Soy Grits and such).

                The various Wegmans in the Philly and NJ burbs have some nice things.

                There is a Gelato place in the Northern Liberties Piazza that I have not tried that get's good reviews.

                3 Replies
                1. re: DougRisk

                  Small point...the owners of Artisan Boulanger are Cambodian.

                  1. re: DougRisk

                    +1 for tartes. odd hours so check first. or go to Monk's for a beer and ask for their dessert menu!

                  2. Cannolis from Termini Bros. are the best dessert I've had in the city. Franklin Fountain gets lots of love for their ice cream. Beau Monde has some wonderful dessert crepes.

                    I personally thought the cupcakes and whoopie pies at Flying Monkey were very disappointing. The treats at Beiler's in the market are much better.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: tzanghi

                      Don't have much of a sweet tooth; however, I do have a soft spot for bread pudding and cheesecake without a lot of add ons. Why people think berries, chocolate, and weird flavors add to the classic experience is beyond me.

                      That said, Beck's Cajun Cafe in RTM has a bread pudding with apples and whiskey sauce that does it for me. I usually get the sauce on the side to enjoy at home.

                      1. re: Seeker19104

                        If you've been, as good as those served in NOLA?

                        And how is the one at Barbuzzo?


                    2. In my opinion, there's not much point in a discussion of Philly deserts that doesn't include Termini Bros. You should go to the 8th street location. Their cannoli are the best I've had, they make tons of interesting old-school Italian pastries and have great cakes, most of which are available as nice-looking little single serving cakes.
                      As for the 4th Street cake, it's nothing special. The only thing remarkable about it is the size of a slice but that just means you have a lot of mediocre cake.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: caganer

                        If you do go to Termini's, be sure to try their raspberry pound cake. It's delicious! And if you head to Tartes, the molasses cookies and coconut tarts are excellent.

                        1. re: bluehensfan

                          We unexpectedly found ourselves in RTM on Sunday and picked up the raspberry pound cake for mother's day. Honestly, why the cake was really good, we weren't thrilled with the frosting. It was really supermarket-sweet and gritty, not at all what I'd consider a quality butter cream.

                          1. re: bsims76

                            I actually like the icing myself but I do understand your comment about it being kind of sweet, especially as I am getting older. At least it's not lardy tasting like some I have encountered.

                        2. re: caganer

                          How 'bout Isgro's? A little less well known than Termini's, but at least as good. Check out their cannoli and torrone.

                          1. re: caganer

                            Just like people argue Pat''s and Geno's, there are two camps in cannoli's. I personally prefer Isgro's Riccota cannoli to anything that Termini does.

                            1. re: cwdonald

                              I prefer Isgro's too, but honestly... If you put them next to each other I probably couldn't tell which was which. They're both pretty good and very similar.

                            2. re: caganer

                              Termini's over Isgro's any day of the week for me.

                              1. re: Buckethead

                                +1. Isgro's seems more oriented towards regular bakery sweets, and their Mascarpone cannoli(only kind they had when I went) was terrible.

                                1. re: Buckethead

                                  Termini seems to use higher-quality ingredients, also.
                                  Isgro's rum cake and rum baba are the two most disappointing things I've eaten from any bakery in town - tastes of nothing but cheap, cheap rum extract and sugar.

                                  1. re: caganer

                                    I like Termini's over Isgro's. Both are good though (unlike Pat's and Geno's...)

                                    1. re: bluehensfan

                                      +1000 for Termini's cannoli. The rumbabas and cakes are excellent as well. Isgro's cannoli can be good but seems inconsistent. And sometimes the cannoli are pre-filled... Never the case at Terminis.

                                      To piggyback on Buckethead, the chocolate chip cookies from Famous need to be on the list, but from the RTM location.