Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ode to NYC Hot Chocolate: Max Brenner, Locanda Verde, Ronnybrook and Corrado Cafe

Walking around in New York hasn't been as fun lately with artic chills blasting me in the face, but when the weather outside is frightful, hot chocolate indoors is delightful!  And boy have I been craving it lately!

Here's a collection of a few spots I have tried this season.  Some are taken with my iPhone Hipstamatic because I am obsessed with that app (Warning: you will see more of this app in the future so I hope you like it as much as I do! :)

1. Max Brenner: I have always shied away from Max Brenner, self-described as the bald chocolate man, because it is an ultra-touristy spot.  Ridiculously so.  But when I saw the chocolate pizza on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, you can color me intrigued!

Max Brenner has these specially made mugs for hot chocolate called Hug Mugs that are shaped like an egg from above so that you can hug the cup with both hands as you drink the hot bevy.  You can tell he knows what women like.  Chocolate and things that rhyme.   I admit it!  I think the cup name is adorable too!  Aaah!
Swiss Whipped Cream Chocolat.  Don't order this if you wanted a Hug Mug.  You can pick any hot chooclate to be made with dark, milk or white chocolate which is nice.  I ordered mine with milk chocolate.  It was okay...perfectly drinkable, just not out of the ordinary.
Half order of the chocolate pizza with the works.  Here are the layers from bottom to top: pizza bread, chocolate sauce, thinly sliced bananas, marshmallows and peanut butter drizzle.  Yes.  Utter ridiculousness.
There was a small doubt in my mind that this would be disgusting.  I don't know why, maybe because it looks like a hot mess?  But this thing was amaaazing.  I think my mind went into epileptic shock from the flavors coming round from every angle.  Chocolatey bananas, the nice brief crunch from the toasted marshmallows that quickly gave way to its melty, gooey insides followed by the tang of melted peanut butter.  
Okay, okay, touristy places might be better than I thought.  And I might take you here so that we can share this pizza, because a half is definitely too much for one person, especially if you're washing it down with hot chocolate. #sugaroverdose

2. Locanda Verde is a restaurant in the Tribeca area co-owned by Robert De Niro, well received for its Italian fare.  I really need to try their brunch, but in the meantime, their hot chocolate was noted as one of the top ten in the city.  You can order it anytime from the cafe at the front of the restaurant.

Locanda Verde hot chocolate

Locanda Verde hot chocolate + lemon fennel muffin

The Locanda Verde hot chocolate comes with a large homemade vanilla bean marshmallow.  It's delicious.  It melts oh so wonderfully in the hot cinnamony drinkable hot chocolate.  It tastes like winter holidays.
For fear of overdosing on chocolate of late, I balanced the drink with an intriguing lemon fennel muffin.  All the pastries in the cafe are baked by pastry chef  Karen DeMasco, a name always mentioned when NYC sweets are discussed among foodies.  The muffin was solid - dense crumb, sharp lemon notes balanced by the earthy fennel and sugar glaze.  Oh and my hot chocolate.  They went together swimmingly!
3. Ronnybrook @ Union Square Greenmarket: I honestly was looking for some fresh basil (honesttogoodness!) which I fortunately did find in addition to the allure of hot chocolate with freshmade Ronnybrook cream at the Ronnybrook tent.
Ronnybrook hot chocolate smothered with whipped clouds of Ronnybrook cream.   It was heavenly.   Maybe it was the cream, or knowing their milk is so tasty, but the hot chocolate just tasted really good - light, hot and comforting.  And it was only a $1.50.  You can't beat that!
Only one vendor had basil this weekend, but look at the fat leaves on that beauty!
Hydroponically grown basil!  I'm a believer!  The basil had so much flavor and the fat, thick leaves did not wilt immediately in heat which I liked.
4. Corrado Cafe in West Village: Quick stop-in before seeing Mistakes Were Made at the Barrow Street Theatre.  Could not shake the Nutella hot chocolate I spied on the chalkboard sign standing on the sidewalk outside the cozy cafe.

Nutella hot chocolate from Corrado Cafe.
It did taste kind of like what Nutella would taste like when melted in some hot chocolatey water.   Was okay.  Can't complain and also had to guzzle it really fast to make our 2:30 p.m. show.  The show was terrific by the way, if anyone is interested in seeing it. 
That's it for this series, but stay tuned for more.  Just posting those pictures has me craving more hugmugfulls!

841 Broadway, New York, NY
Max Brenner on Urbanspoon
377 Greenwich Street, New York, NY
Locanda Verde on Urbanspoon

Union Square & 14th, New York, NY

35 Christopher St, New York, NY
Corrado Bread & Pastry on Urbanspoon


  1. okay that pizza is absolutely ridiculous!! in an incredibly fabulous way. hahah. and i am entranced by that marshmallow. (in addition to all the liquid choco :))

  2. Nice round-up. I recently bought Karen DeMasco's cookbook, "The Craft of Baking." Everything in it looks fabulous - exactly like the desserts at Locanda Verde. On that note, I've been to LV for brunch a few times and, even though the food is great, am a bit underwhelmed at the value. I remember thinking, I paid that much for a plate of eggs and toast, and this is what you get? (I know it's NY, but...)

  3. Sara, I guess I feel that all the time for New York brunch! I figure just once will be good enough for me unless I find something obsessable. :) Hope to see some of Karen's recipes on your blog soon!

  4. Just saw the chocolate pizza on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" and it made me remember how jealous I am of you in NYC.