Dessert First

Dessert First at Pizzeria Bianco in Metro Phoenix

Decisions, decisions. The waitress stood there, smiling politely. It's hard enough to choose an entree at the world-famous Pizzeria Bianco -- but dessert? I pondered the decision way too long. The options: Flourless chocolate cake (waitress recommended), the seasonal dessert of mesquite cake, or grapefruit curd. I couldn't make up my mind so I did what any self-respecting dessert writer would do. I ordered two out of the three.

I had to show some kind of restraint.

See also: Dessert First at Pars Persian Cuisine in North Scottsdale FIrst up: mesquite cake with vanilla bean cream, so-named for the mesquite flour used in the cake. This is a gluten free flour milled from the pods of mesquite trees. Given the heavier texture of mesquite flour this cake was amazingly light; the deep spice flavor is a pleasant contrast to the light consistency of the cake. The added pieces of apple complemented the spices without overpowering texture or taste. When you think it can't get better, you take a bite of cake with the vanilla bean cream. It made me want a carafe of that cream to dunk my bites into and then take home and pour on everything I eat for the next week.

The grapefruit curd turned out to be much better than I expected. To be clear, my expectations were a little lower due to the fact that I was hoping for lemon curd and was saddened to discover they had changed it out for grapefruit. I do love grapefruit but usually squeezed fresh into a glass, with vodka, and a salted rim. This dish is served in a jar, topped with cream, with a side of shortbread. I imagine grapefruit curd would be a welcome dessert on a hot day in Phoenix but it worked on a cool day, too. It's perfectly light and slightly creamy. The shortbread was a little dry, so we crumbled it up and mixed it in with the grapefruit curd.

There were clear favorites at our table of four. We were split right down the middle with two preferring the mesquite cake and the other two preferring the grapefruit curd. I surprised myself by choosing the grapefruit curd. It may even beat out the salty dog as my favorite use of the fruit.

I encourage you to ask for the dessert menu with the dinner menu so you can plot your dessert course early and save your waitress or waiter some standing around time watching you decide. Or eat dessert first.

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Jenny Zink
Contact: Jenny Zink