Miami's Top Ten Italian Desserts

Because there are as many traditional Italian desserts as there are towns in Italy, Miami New Times has begrudgingly taken it upon itself to round up the top ten Italian desserts in Miami (yes, that's sarcasm, folks), because sometimes the best (and most affordable) way to get an authentic taste of a country's cuisine is to skip the traditional entrée and go straight for the dessert.

So ditch the diet and grab an authentic bite of Italy. Mangia!

10. Kicking things off is Perricone's. Brickell's spot for authentic Italian is home to some of the most fabulous homemade gelato in town. The sweets are made fresh daily and cost only $3.95 a scoop.

  9. Bianca's white truffle gelato is the perfect Italian dessert to cool off in Miami's heat. Bianca's most popular dessert is served as three mini cones, with rich truffle-flavored ice cream topped with shaved seasonal truffles, for an extra touch of decadence ($9).

8. Shift manager Loris greeted us at Caffe Abbraci with a calm, cool, and collected vibe during the height of Abracci and Coral Gables' rush hour for a taste of one of their most popular autumn desserts, pears with chocolate sauce and raspberries for $9.25. Tasty, refreshing, and seemingly healthful, this dessert is quite the treat and stands out as unique.

7. This was an actual email we received this past week while rounding up our faves: "All the cakes for the weekend are coming out of the oven in 20 minutes." Jealous yet? The torta della nonna (grandmother's cake) at Ni.Do Caffe is a classic Italian cake made with a light crust and a pastry cream with a clear hint of citrus. Covered with a layer of powdered sugar and sprinkled with a few almonds and pine nuts, the cakes served at Ni.Do are available for lunch, an afternoon snack, dinner, or a late-night treat.

6. Quattro's swank atmosphere is the epitome of the ultra-modern and sleek style of Italy. We tried their signature dessert for $10: the semifreddo gianduja with torrone ice cream and a caramelized banana. The crunch of the hazelnuts and carmelized banana, paired with the rich and creamy semifreddo, proved to be a memorable experience.

5. We had to see what was going on at Miami's hottest pizza joint, Harry's, what with executive pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith's recent cook book fame. Turns out she makes a mean panna cotta for just $6 that transforms throughout the year based on the fruits in season, or whatever wonderfulness the pastry dream team comes up with. Right now, the panna cotta being served is a Turkish coffee variety, with salted caramel and almond praline, made daily at Harry's.

4. Next up is an authentic Sicilian dessert from Salumeria 104, called the salame al cioccolato ($7), which translates to "chocolate salami." Yum. This dessert is a no-bake dish made with butter, dark chocolate, eggs, sugar, and crumbled biscotti, delivering a rich, flavor-packed mouthful of decadence.

3. Emanuele Bearzi of downtown's go-to Italian trattoria -- Fratelli Milano -- makes fresh pastries every day for a loyal local following. What keeps many of the expat Italian customers buzzing are Chef Emanuele's decadent bombolones, cloud-like Italian doughnuts filled with crema pasticcera (Italian pastry cream), served fresh and warm from the oven and topped with sugar. The bombolones are as perfect for dessert as they are with a morning espresso and fly off the shelf, says Emanuele, who mentions he receives phone calls from fans with requests to put a few aside in case they run out before the customers can get to Fratelli Milano's counter. Because the bombolones are so popular, Emanuele makes the cream-filled version daily but swaps out the cream for Nutella a few times a week.

2. Though it's listed as #2, Cecconi's desserts are the sexiest on this list. The décor, service, and clientele translate into an unforgettable atmosphere and the perfect pairing for pastry chef Oscar Bonnelli's vanilla panna cotta ($12), made with cookie crumbles, caramel, and the ever-important dash of sea salt, which sends this dish over-the-top.

1. Tiramisu is ubiquitous at Italian eateries, so a standout version is difficult to come by. Macchialina's tiramisu ($8) is easily our number one pick because of the its topping: a fork-shaved espresso granita that rests on layers of whipped marscapone, dulce de leche, cocoa powder, and ladyfingers soaked in espresso. Served in a mini mason jar, this playful and cooling tiramisu is everything an Italian dessert in Miami should aspire to be.

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Jen Mangham
Contact: Jen Mangham