the cocoa chronicles

chapter 1: downtown in nyc
December 02, 2011  |   column: DELIBERATE POLISH

we’ve been big fans of eataly’s cioccolata con panna since mario batali’s market moved in down the block. with the cold weather officially here in NYC, we started to wonder if our calories would be better spent elsewhere—and so we embarked on a cocoa crawl to taste the competition for ourselves.

this week, we hit the stops downtown. next week, we’re heading north to see what the upper east and west sides have to offer. (it’s hard work, but somebody has to do it.)

city bakery

3 west 18th street

http://www.thecitybakery.com

we ordered: the hot chocolate

we love it for: the homemade marshmallows

to call the hot chocolate at city bakery hot cocoa is, evidently, a serious mistake. “cocoa is so last century,” explains owner maury rubin. “we took hot cocoa and made it hot chocolate.” city bakery, allegedly the second most famous hot chocolate destination in the world (behind paris’ famed angleina), takes well-earned pride in their decadent drink. using melted chocolate bars (which ones? not a chance), the chocolate is sweet, full-bodied and deliciously substantial. bonus points: you can add a giant melt-in-your-mouth homemade marshmallow for $1.

eataly

200 fifth avenue

http://eatalyny.com/eat/lavazza

we ordered: the cioccolata con panna (go ahead—get a large)

we love it for: the first few sips of cool cream and rich cioccolata

there are plenty of reasons to go to eataly, but our favorite is caffe lavazza, the street-level shop home to delicious coffee concoctions and—of course—the cioccolata con panna, a supremely rich just-the-right-amount-of-sweet cocoa, topped with frothy italian whipped cream. often packed, the café is abuzz at all hours (making even the tables seem to jitter), so we suggest getting your cocoa to go and sipping it in madison square park across the street.

mariebelle

484 broome street

mariebelle.com

we ordered: white hot chocolate, aztec hot chocolate

we love it for: the white hot chocolate. we thought it might be too sweet, but it was perfect (so perfect, we were still talking about it the next day)

we were swept off our feet by the beautiful décor—think, crystal chandeliers and marie antoinette-esque flourishes—and bevy of chic chocolate treats found at this iconic chocolatier. equally lovely was the delicious white hot chocolate in the cacao bar. served with a dash of vanilla and prepared “european-style” (water-based for rich, full flavor) it makes for an indulgent treat while holiday shopping in soho.

sant ambroeus

259 west 4th street

santambroeus.com

we ordered: hot chocolate

we love it for: the butter cookies that accompany each cup (a restaurant specialty for the last 60 years)

skip the dessert menu on your dinner a deux and head straight for sant ambroeus for a sweet nightcap—we think the intimate atmosphere is the perfect spot for a romantic rendezvous. warm up with a mug of their rich hot chocolate, served with a heaping mound of fresh whipped cream (after all, “sixty percent of hot cocoa starts with cream!” according to sant ambroeus manager fernando federici) and a tower of assorted butter cookies.


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