PB&J pain perdu at Recette
Panettone French toast at Saint Austere
Sourdough French toast with roasted cinnamon-apple butter at North End Grill
These superior versions of French toast may use a variety of bread, but they’re all uniquely, sweetly delicious brunch plates.
Chef Jesse Schenker tinkers with the classic for his PB&J pain perdu. His pillowy treat features a three-inch-thick wedge of Sullivan Street brioche stuffed with a swirl of creamy peanut butter and grape jam. He serves the fried confection in a pool of sweetened condensed milk laced with Earl Grey tea, plus a cluster of sugar-dusted berries arranged on top. $12.
Certain hard-line brunchers will tell you that challah is as essential to French toast as rye bread is to a pastrami sandwich. Skeptics may be persuaded by the version at Kutsher’s. Hefty slices of light and eggy challah arrive topped with a mix of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, a sprinkling of powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped cream. Amp up the sweetness with the maple syrup and tangy berry compote that’s served alongside. $16.
Swapping out traditional bread for a hunk of panettone—a sweet Italian loaf studded with candied citrus peel and raisins, usually served at Christmas—gives this adaptation a cottony, ethereal texture. Chef Gary Comstock rounds out the sugary toast with a few savory touches: cayenne-spiced pecan butter and crunchy bits of fried prosciutto. $10.
A two-inch-thick piece of Sullivan Street sourdough is the humble canvas for this simple and satisfying French toast revision. Chef Floyd Cardoz advances the classic with the addition of his house-made roasted cinnamon-apple butter—a rich and fragrant spread stuffed into the center of each golden slice. $17.
This Prospect Heights pizza and pasta joint has a dedicated following among the neighborhood’s residents. The menu reads like any typical old-school Italian restaurant, but the focus on seasonal ingredients sets Amorina apart. The special “Will to Live” pizza changes nightly—one day, it could be made with fresh ramp pesto and mozzarella, and the next, it could be a meaty sausage pie. Classics like the margherita ($12) and tricolore ($15) pizzas make an appearance, as do more inventive options like the gorgonzola e frutta, with wine-soaked figs, caramelized pears and a drizzle of honey. If you want something other than a slice, there’s plenty of pasta to choose from—think rigatoni with cremini and porcini mushrooms ($15.50), baked ziti with smoked mozzarella, stewed tomatoes and bechamel sauce ($15) and eggplant parmigiana ($15). The restaurant serves up all kinds of traditional sweets for dessert, like ricotta cheesecake with orange and a flourless chocolate cake with caramel (both $7).
Venue says: “Will To Live Pizza: Ricotta, Roasted Winter Squash, Caramelized Onion, Speck”