What if I get tired of pizza? I get this question a lot and I’m pretty sure if that horrible day ever comes I’ll just become more obsessed with ice cream. My sweet tooth is so strong I can’t keep cookies in the house because I know I’ll eat them immediately. The days following Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day are the most dangerous of the year if I step foot inside any store that has discounted holiday candy. Thankfully I have a long way to go before reaching pizza burnout, but desserts remain a tempting option every time I go out for pizza. Here’s a closer look at what I crave after the last slice has been eaten.
Ordering dessert requires far more effort than any other course. The server checks in with me and asks if I want to see another menu, giving me the perfect opportunity to decline and move on with my evening. But if he or she plugs a few specific selections, it’s likely to spark my interest enough to take a look at the options or place an order on the spot! Once I’ve decided whether or not I’ll be ordering dessert, price isn’t a major factor (unless it’s completely unreasonable). Dessert is already an indulgence, so I’m not going to comparison shop after I’ve already decided I’m interested in something sweet.
My perfect dessert menu has three to five items — not so many that it’s overwhelming and not so few that I can easily say no. When I see a massive list at a casual restaurant I assume everything is prepackaged and not worth my time, money or calories. I’d rather see fewer items with more variation. As much as I love chocolate, it’s restricting when the majority of your offerings are chocolate-based. It’s nice to see fruit and cheese on a dessert menu. Throw a little honey and some nuts on top and you’ve got a light, tasty dessert usually reserved for higher end restaurants.
I can’t think of the last time I ordered dessert just for myself. I usually order a dessert for every two people at the table — one that’s chocolaty and one that’s fruity to cover both ends of the spectrum. When I’m at an Italian restaurant, I expect a good mix of classics like tiramisu, panna cotta and cheesecake. Ice cream or gelato is a must, especially if you cater to kids. That’s not to say I fear creativity. On the contrary, new ideas make me more likely to order desserts I haven’t seen before. Nutella has been around since the 1960s, but it seems to be hitting its stride in America as a topping for fried dough strips, cakes and cookies. I’ve even seen some pizzerias blend it with mascarpone cheese to create an even creamier texture.
There’s no better sign that I’ve had a good meal than when I choose to spend more time in your restaurant — and dessert is the perfect conclusion to a great pizzeria experience. n
Scott Wiener owns and operates Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City.