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What: A slice of cheesecake is the quintessential end to a meal in New York. But not just any old cheesecake: New York-style means it’s made with cream cheese—plus a few other things (eggs, sugar, heavy cream, etc.), but mostly cream cheese—which gives it its decadent, creamy texture and taste. The origins of this brand of cheesecake aren’t clear, but one alleged inventor (or popularizer, at least) is midtown NYC’s (now defunct) Turf Restaurant, whose owner attributed the recipe to his family circa 1929. Don’t be fooled by its unadulterated simplicity: This is not a dessert for the weak-hearted.
Where: We like the super smooth and creamy cheesecake at D’Aiuto’s Baby Watson Cheesecake (212-564-7136; 405 Eighth Ave. betw. 30th & 31st Sts.). It’s on the dense end of the cheesecake spectrum—as it should be in New York, we think—and is a crustless cake, so nothing interferes with that rich, not-too-sweet flavor and luscious, silky innards.
When: Daily, 4:30am-8pm
Order: A slice of plain cheesecake ($3.25). Repeat as necessary.
Alternatively: Every New Yorker will tell you something different, as plenty of good traditional cheesecake can be found in this town. In the East Village, there’s the historic Veniero’s Pastry (342 E. 11th St. betw. First & Second Aves., map), where the creamy NY cheesecake is sold as various rounds (from $4.25, for mini); while there, try a slice of the delicious Italian-style ricotta cheesecake too, a lighter, coarser version that we sometimes prefer. Junior’s (multiple locations including the original, 386 Flatbush Ave. Ext., Brooklyn, map) is the most famous, as its $6.25-a-slice price reflects; it’s also the densest, richest, creamiest cake around, with a lemony sponge-cake crust. Also sweet-n-creamy is the namesake from S&S Cheesecake (222 W. 238th St. nr. Broadway, map) in the Bronx (from $14 for a 7-incher), while Eileen’s Special Cheesecake (17 Cleveland Pl. nr. Kenmare St., map) in SoHo gets props for its lighter, more delicate cheesecake (from $3.50, for mini).
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