Huntington’s Top 10 Desserts

By Shelly Betz

Sinfully delicious. Scrumptious. To die for. These are just a few choice words often used to describe what satisfies our sweet-tooth cravings. Whether you are a self-proclaimed chocoholic, ice cream connoisseur, pie enthusiast or simply have an acute love affair with the most discriminating desserts known to humankind, our readers have spoken — and they can’t seem to get enough of what the Tri-State has to offer in fulfilling that oh-so-common craving for those delightful, sugary, guilty pleasures. And while many of us are trying hard to cut back on indulging in such wickedly satisfying goodies, let us put our scales away for a moment to appreciate this confectionery cuisine. So, whether you choose to partake in one of Huntington’s Top 10 Desserts after a wonderful meal, or choose to make the dessert your meal – eat and be merry.

No matter which dessert(s) you choose from our winner’s list, we are confident that you will come away wanting more. I know this from personal experience, having tasted all 10 desserts!

La Famiglia

One visit to this authentic southern Italian trattoria and you’ll definitely come back for more. There’s always something good in the oven, and it’s no secret that customers sneak a peak at whatever the next able is having – and that includes dessert as a finishing touch to a great meal. Cannoli is an old-world Italian tradition, originating in Sicily. The word cannoli means “little tubes,” which perfectly describes the dish. Here, they’re made fresh with deep-fried pastry dough, flour, real butter and freshly grated nutmeg. Owner Ralph Hagy says the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. “The filling is the key to its success,” Hagy says. “We use a combination of ricotta and marscapone cheeses, which helps to balance the texture a bit. We’ll also add orange or lemon zest to boost the flavor.” Cannoli can be made in a variety of flavors, with some of the most popular being dipped in chocolate and sprinkled in powdered sugar. For your next party or special occasion, consider pre-ordering them to delight your special guests.

La Famiglia
1327 Sixth Avenue, Huntington
(304) 523-1008
Tuesday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 5 – 9 p.m.
Saturday: 5 – 10 p.m.

Backyard Pizza and Raw Bar

“Haystack” may sound simple, but this dessert is anything but. Imagine deep-fried dough cut into thin strips, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and stacked high in a teepee-like formation. Add to that a savory combination of hickory-smoked almonds, honey and a drizzle of Dutch chocolate. A scoop of cinnamon ice cream strategically positioned in the center of the Haystack complements the flavor and gives it major visual appeal. Indeed, it is enough to make your mouth water in anticipation. The inviting aroma from the Grand Marnier sauce en flambé compels everyone to reach for a spoon. Caution: this is a sweet treat that may be difficult to part with; it is good to the last drop. Restaurant owner Drew Hetzer agrees this dessert is a real showstopper. “We have a lot of people come in for the Haystack,” Hetzer says. “It’s such a fun dessert that even our staff enjoys the thrill of making it for customers.”

Backyard Pizza and Raw Bar
12 Fourth Avenue, Huntington
(304) 697-7413
Tuesday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and 5 – 10 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 11 a.m. – 11p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Chocolate Molten Cake
Fat Patty’s

You may know about the fantastic burgers and specialty appetizers and salads this popular eatery serves up daily, but there’s more than meets the eye. Simply put, there are times when nothing satisfies your sweet tooth better than chocolate, and this Chocolate Molten Cake delivers on every level. Made-to-order, it arrives warm from the oven in a mini-bundt pan shape that leaves behind an irresistible aroma with every step the server takes towards your table. The rich chocolate cake is baked with a dark chocolate truffle that oozes from the center like hot lava from a volcano. Topped with whipped cream, scoops of vanilla ice cream on the side and drizzles of — you guessed it — chocolate sauce, this dessert is a bonafide crowd pleaser. Chocolate lovers unite! Don’t even bother counting calories on this splurge. “It’s so good that customers wish it were twice the size,” says manager James Anderson.

Fat Patty’s
1935 Third Avenue, Huntington
(304) 781-2555
Monday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Key Lime Pie
Jewel City Seafood

Legendary tales say key lime pie originated in Key West, Fla., in the early 1900s, although some of the details are quite sketchy. What is known for sure is that this dessert is especially popular among southerners, young and old. Who could have imagined that a tiny green fruit would deliver such a powerful punch of flavor? It comes as no surprise that key lime pie made the list of Huntington’s most beloved desserts. Baked fresh daily and served year-round at Jewel City Seafood, manager Amy Laishley admits theirs is a twist on the traditional key lime pie. “Ours is a bit sweeter than most, but people around here really love it,” she says. And what a sweet treat it is. From the homemade crust to its rich and smooth texture, this key lime pie rests securely atop your dessert fork and bears a strong consistency comparable to that of a cheesecake. The whipped cream topping is a bonus. Stop in for a slice or pre-order a whole pie to share with family and friends. They will certainly thank you later.

Jewel City Seafood
1317 Fourth Avenue, Huntington
(304) 529-7961
Monday – Thursday: 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Triple Berry Bread Pudding

If you crave a fine dining experience with southern charm, then look no further than Savannah’s restaurant. This elegant eatery not only boasts a menu full of seasonal and classic dishes, but it is also home to one of the most splendid desserts in town. It’s been said there’s a culinary art to making the perfect bread pudding and that’s what you can expect here — with a unique twist, that is. The Triple Berry Bread Pudding is an exquisite blend of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Baked in an individual-sized ramekin using a bain-marie to maintain moisture, this bread pudding has an ultra rich texture and flavor beyond compare. Homemade whipped cream is the ultimate topper. The infusion of nutmeg complements the tartness of the berries in the most perfect fashion. The aroma is so intense that you can almost taste how good it is long before you take the first bite. In fact, you may be torn between savoring the last bite and saving a spoonful for later. According to pastry chef Shelly Jarell this dessert is one to remember. “The moist and dense consistency of it is almost custard-like,” she says. “Plus, the berries give it such a robust flavor and make it visually appealing. It’s always been one of our most popular desserts.”

1208 Sixth Avenue, Huntington
(304) 529-0919
Tuesday – Saturday: 5:30 – 9 p.m.

Cherry Pie
Central City Cafe

In the heart of Huntington’s West End, you’ll find a place that is sure to bring back memories of your grandmother’s kitchen. That’s precisely what David and Sherry Luther had in mind when they opened their restaurant 21 years ago in the city’s historic antique district. It just feels like home, with its simple décor and family-like atmosphere. Among the Appalachian-inspired menu favorites is a mouth-watering cherry pie that invites you to give into your craving long before your fork touches the crust. “I’ll tell you what,” David Luther says, “smelling the aroma of the pie as it bakes is just hard to beat.” For sure, a tiny whiff of the cherry pie is enough to get your taste buds excited, with its rich buttery aroma and hint of brown sugar on top. Luther confesses the secret to the success of this cherry pie is using darker cherries. “They’re much sweeter than the lighter ones, which can be rather tart,” he says. A scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side completes this dessert. Customers may buy a single slice of pie or call a few days ahead to order a whole one.

Central City Cafe
529 14th Street West, Huntington
(304) 522-6142
Monday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Mandarin Orange Cake
Rocco’s Ristorante

Ask Rocco Muriale what makes his restaurant in Ceredo so popular, and he’ll likely tell you about family recipes and relatives who helped him along the way. With a menu filled with all the comforts of authentic southern Italian dishes, visitors are wise to save room for the triple-layer mandarin orange cake that his mother, Rose Muriale, has made for more than 26 years. She doesn’t need a written recipe because the ingredients in her delectable cake are etched in her memory. Rose doesn’t believe in cutting corners and insists on using real butter as a main ingredient. Pieces of mandarin oranges are mixed into the cake batter. Each layer is separated by an exquisite pistachio whipped cream filling that doubles as frosting. The finishing touch is mandarin oranges that lace the top of the cake to give it an eye-catching allure. While the kitchen staff is often drawn to her prep area by the sweet aroma of the cake as it bakes, Rose takes it all in stride. At 88 years young, she makes a variety of cakes five days a week and dismisses any thoughts of retiring. “I will bake for as long as I am able,” she says. “We have a big family and they know my favorite place is in the kitchen.”

Rocco’s Ristorante
252 Main Street, Ceredo
(304) 453-3000
Tuesday – Sunday: 5 – 10 p.m.

Grand Marnier Souffle
21 at the Frederick

Here is where basic ingredients and expert culinary acumen combine in perfection. Getting it right takes skill and a discriminating palate. A soufflé, the name derives from the French verb “to blow,” is an airy concoction that is served directly from the oven before it has any chance to deflate. While the ingredients are few, restaurant owner Mark Cross says each plays a vital role in this made-to-order masterful creation. “The eggs must be at their freshest in order to achieve stiff peaks,” Cross says. “The airflow in the oven has to be nearly perfect as well.” Perhaps the biggest Wow! factor is revealed when the dessert is delivered to the table…fresh from the oven. A small butane tank is used to create a hardened shell on top, right before a stream of Grand Marnier liqueur is lit and carefully poured into the center of the soufflé. This is a delicacy to be savored, with its light and airy texture and intense flavor. “We have some customers who request it every time they eat here,” Cross says. “It is a simple, delicious thing.”

21 at the Frederick
940 Fourth Avenue, Huntington
(304) 529-0222
Tuesday – Thursday: 5 – 10 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 5 – 11 p.m.

Chocolate Cream Pie
Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House

Perhaps Huntington’s most beloved family-owned eatery, Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House recently celebrated 75 years in business. If these walls could talk, there would be plenty of stories from such legendary visitors as John F. Kennedy and Muhammad Ali. Best known for menu favorites spaghetti and classic white fish, it also has a rich dessert tradition that hasn’t changed a bit over time; one of the most delicious is the chocolate cream pie. C.M. “Bunny” Gray is the man who first made the pie. He began working for restaurant founder Jim Tweel as a busboy shortly after it opened. After a short stint in the military, Bunny returned and later became the first African American restaurant manager in the city. “That was a time when African Americans were holding sit-in protests at other places in town,” says Jimmie Tweel Carder, Jim Tweel’s daughter. “But dad felt strongly that people should be treated equally.” What makes the chocolate cream pie a favorite is the homemade crust and whipped cream topping. The chocolate filling is smooth and silky and seemingly melts in your mouth. “We have dedicated and loyal customers,” Carder says. “This pie is the best way to satisfy your chocolate craving. Everyone just loves it.”

Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House
920 Fifth Avenue, Huntington
(304) 696-9788
Tuesday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
Le Bistro

Le Bistro offers a metropolitan atmosphere that rivals some of the swankiest spots found in larger cities. With its menu of distinctive dishes and nightly culinary specialties, it’s no surprise that its most popular dessert is the sophisticated Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee. It’s been on the menu since the restaurant opened. While the ingredients for this custard-based treat are fairly simple, the flavor is anything but ordinary. Beneath the sugary caramelized layer formed directly on top by a propane blowtorch is an undeniably rich and creamy custard. The hint of vanilla bean is subtle enough to keep you guessing about the enhanced flavor and what secret ingredients combine to make this dessert a top choice. Pastry chef John Gladson prepares this semi-sweet delicacy nightly, much to the delight of diners. “Sometimes the most simply-done things are the best,” he says.

Le Bistro
905 3rd Avenue, Huntington
(304) 523-2012
Monday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.

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