Bomboloni

by Susan on October 6, 2010

Bomboloni, an Italian cafe on the Upper West Side, is named for the filled pastries that take up most of the real estate in the cafe’s cheery confines. As for the pastry’s moniker, it’s derived from the Italian word bombaloni. Translation: “little bombs.”

Though bomboloni are the specialty, Bomboloni also has gelato, paninis, and coffee drinks. I drank one of the best cups of decaf coffee I can remember this side of the Atlantic.

The cafe offers over a dozen types of bomboloni. They range from the classic (raspberry, strawberry, pistachio, vanilla bean, and chocolate) to the more modern (peanut butter cup, s’mores, creme brulee). The majority of the flavors are available in the regular size (think tennis ball) while a few also come in a smaller size (think golf ball). The regular bomboloni are $1.50 each or 6 for $7.

While bomboloni are technically pastries, their taste and consistency cause an unavoidable comparison to doughnuts. A comparison that doesn’t necessarily bode well for the bomboloni.

I’m a sucker for a warm doughnut. Actually, I’m a sucker for any type of dough that emerges from a fryer. I love the smell. I love the consistency. I love the glorious glaze it leaves on my fingertips.

At Bomboloni the pastries are served room temperature, something that I knew would immediately put them at odds with my temperature sensitive taste buds. But who turns down something as adorable sounding and looking as bomboloni? Maybe, just maybe, these little bombs would blow me away.

After much rumination, we choose raspberry, nutella, s’mores, chocolate and vanilla bean. The dough had all the right characteristics. It was dense without being heavy. Soft but slightly chewy. Buttery but not greasy.

The raspberry was by far the best. An elevated version of the go-to jelly doughnut.

The bomboloni with exotic fillings fizzled rather than exploded. The s’mores filling tasted more like Boston cream than marshmallow. The nutella was a dumbed-down version of the decadent stuff, devoid of any hazelnut flavor. Even the vanilla bean, though flecked with genuine bean, tasted like cream cheese.

With Magnolia Bakery just a block away from Bomboloni its hard to imagine choosing the filled pastries over my beloved banana pudding. In my war of desserts, the pudding is the bomb. No translation needed.

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