Tired of discovering a restaurant's delectable desserts after already stuffing ourselves full of appetizers and entrees, we're on a mission to find the places where diners should order dessert first. After all, chicken roulade and lamb vindaloo make excellent leftovers. But ice cream made in-house? Not a chance.
So, are you ready for one of the most delectable desserts of your life? Prep your taste buds, grab your smartphone so that you can rave on Facebook as the gelato melts in your mouth, and head to Noca.
Stuck in a Safeway strip mall, it's much too easy to overlook this award-winning restaurant, but it is definitely one of a kind. We're pretty sure that no else serves complimentary cotton candy to all of their guests.
Noca makes amazing gelato. Diners can choose three for $9, but each of their desserts (aside from doughnuts) comes with a unique gelato flavor. The Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding is served with a Greek Yogurt Gelato as well as fresh lime.
The gelato works well when paired with the rich sticky toffee pudding. However, for what it is - a spongy cake with the flavor of dates, brown sugar, and butter that's doused in warm toffee - it doesn't sit too heavily in the stomach (cutting down on the post-sugar guilt, boosting the after-dessert bliss). As for the Greek Yogurt Gelato?
Learn more about what we indulged in after the jump...
The gelato has just the right amount of tang to balance out the buttery sticky toffee pudding. The texture is creamy, but it's thicker than most gelato (which is already thicker than ice cream) in the same way that Greek yogurt is denser than typical yogurt.
The moistness of the cake, the stickiness of the toffee, and the zing of lime zest keep that from being a problem. Everything in this dish hit the right notes, and it was honestly on our plate for so little time that it was tough to discern every subtlety. Maybe this isn't a dessert for sharing...I could eat two all by myself.
Though more of a Spring/Summer dessert, Noca's Lemon Tart with Meringue Gelato, Coconut Tapioca, and Passion Fruit Caramel would be enjoyable any day of the year. Maybe it's too trendy/obnoxious to say it, but this is one deliciously deconstructed dessert. It's essentially a lemon meringue pie stripped down to its various parts, then with a few welcome additions.
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The main player on the plate, the Lemon Tart itself, is a bare bones classic baked about as well as one can be. The Passion Fruit Caramel keeps the dessert from being too tart, the Coconut Tapioca is in the background adding a little extra sweetness, and both of them add a tropical flavor without being overwhelming.
The Meringue Gelato is nothing short of genius. Traditional meringue is made with egg whites and sugar, and its depth of flavor comes from the final touch of fire. How Noca managed to get that flavor into a frozen confection must be a secret that the chefs keep in a locked safe in an undisclosed location. The Lemon Tart would be too plain without the trimmings, and the gelato is the key component that makes this a perfectly completed dish.
After all of that, our server still brought us complimentary bright blue cotton candy. Then, they really stole our sugar-lovin' hearts with free chocolate oatmeal cookies, made crispy with lots of butter. Yes, it's true that they serve two free sweets, but we assure you that Noca's desserts are worth the $8-$9 apiece. This is one restaurant that has definitely secured a spot on the list of places where you should eat dessert first.