Pastry chef Bethany Costello’s sweets trolley is as gloriously kooky as you’d expect from this outré beef haven, parked amidst a live-trout tank and a projector that screens Canadian lumberjack flicks (naturally). Keeping with the steakhouse-gone-gonzo M.O., Costello stocks the glass-and-wood buggy—a custom-built replica of an antique—with a whimsical cast of clashing treats. We’re talking gold-leaf-crowned pavlova bursting with tangy blood-orange curd ($11); chocolate-cream cake bookended by chocolate-chip-cookie crust ($11); and Texas-sized wedges of beet-fortified red-velvet cake, frosted with smooth crème fraîche ($11). In what little space is left in the gluttonous cart, Costello crams in hazelnut-studded Paris-Brest ($19), a cinnamon-roll/chess-pie cake hybrid ($11) and chilled canisters of house-churned ice cream (chocolate, honey), to take those cakes to à la mode territory. 43-15 Crescent St between 43rd Ave and 44th Dr, Long Island City, Queens (718-786-9060)
The Quality crew has no qualms about hamming it up—igniting plates of lobster Fra Diavolo with splashes of vodka, and breaking out the mortar and pestle to make its tomato-raisin steak sauce. The tableside flair extends to dessert—pastry chef Cory Colton fills chocolate-coated Ferrara shells á la minute at a head-turning cannoli cart, piping each with rich ricotta-mascarpone cream right before diners dig in, so they’re not sitting around getting soggy. The dark-wood dolly is rigged with three cannoli varieties ($10 each)—peanut-butter-chocolate, pistachio-strawberry and cookies-and-cream—and syrup jars of complementary sauces (cherry, caramel and mint-chocolate). A built-in ice bucket—the cart flips into a boozy Bellini operation during weekend brunch—comes packed with tempting bottles of house-made digestifs, such as chinato (herb-infused red wine) and a cheeky “corrected grappa,” jazzed up with espresso beans. 57 W 57th St at Sixth Aves (212-390-1111)
Red sauce runs through the veins of this clubby Italian throwback and nothing screams old-fashioned nonna dining like an over-the-top dessert cart. Forearms flexing beneath their burgundy Zac Posen blazers, waiters shuffle the MacGyvered gantry—an antique silver tray affixed to a wooden frame—around the Sinatra-tuned dining room, hauling four hefty cakes ($15 a slice) from pastry chef Kathy Walker (Pies ’n’ Thighs). Offerings skew classic: übermoist carrot cake dotted with walnuts and plump raisins; a heady blackout capped with chewy dried cherries; a sky-high round of New York–style cheesecake cut with tart lemon curd; and the showstopping Nutella tiramisu, flanked with house-baked ladyfingers. 181 Thompson St between Bleecker and W Houston Sts (212-254-3000)
This tiny, low-key sandwich shop comes to us from owners Caroline Fidanza (Marlow & Sons), Rebecca Collerton (Diner) and Elizabeth Schula (Il Buco). Together, they create simple yet remarkable sandwiches that rely on pedigreed produce. Most are served on house-baked sea-salt-speckled focaccia, a versatile vehicle that encases sardines, capers and house-pickled eggs in the Captain’s Daughter, a delicious riff on a pan bagnat. Mortadella, pecorino and green-olive spread combine in the Little Chef, an exceptional spin on the New Orleans muffuletta, and the Spanish Armada features a potato tortilla slathered in pimentón-spiked aioli. Saltie is also a great spot for sweets, like buttery apple galettes.
Venue says: “Come visit us for homemade breads, pastries, pizzas and more!”