When Una Pizza Napoletana made its highly anticipated return to New York City a year ago, one of the most unexpected parts was the dessert. Salty vanilla gelato and an updated take on tiramisu immediately became hits on the menu, receiving nearly as much attention as that venerable pizza.
The desserts are all the work of new co-owner and pastry chef Fabián von Hauske Valtierra, who’s also known for his sweets at Contra and Wildair. They made such a statement that Eater NY named Von Hauske Valtierra and his menu at Una Pizza 2018’s dessert of the year.
A hallmark of Von Hauske Valtierra’s desserts is that they’re not very sweet, a result of him not being a “dessert person,” he says.
“It’s ironic that my entire career has been based around making something I really don’t enjoy,” he says. “My whole thing is bringing back things that remind me of my childhood, but making them a little fresher.”
Salt is one of his favorite secret weapons to do that, and it’s an ingredient he thinks not enough pastry chefs employ. Indeed, the vanilla gelato at Una Pizza is shockingly salty, though in a pleasing way. He also likes that more and more pastry programs are becoming more seasonally minded, using fresh produce from farmers markets rather than ubiquitous frozen purees.
From a seasonally changing cookie to esoterically flavored ice cream, here’s where Von Hauske Valtierra likes to eat dessert on the rare occasion he wants it.
“I think all these places are trying to do something different. That’s why I like them,” he says.
Chocolate caramel tart at Minetta Tavern
“It’s just chocolate, caramel, and salt, and it’s always perfect. I’ve been going for years, and I’m amazed it’s always good. It’s one of those things where you see salt on chocolate and you think it’s crazy, but it’s absolutely normal and delicious. And that’s why I love it.”
Chocolate cake at Estela
“I like that it’s a chocolate dessert, but it’s not salty and not sweet — it’s neutral. [Chef] Ignacio [Mattos] has a very good sensitivity on how to make things taste the way they’re supposed to. The cream is barely sweet and the chocolate cake is super bitter, but it goes well together. It has a whipped cream on top, but it’s not sweet at all.”
Ice cream at Sundaes & Cones
“It’s a small shop in the East Village, and before everyone started making less classically flavored ice cream, they used to have corn and olive oil and concord grape and sesame. They have this orange and sweet cream creamsicle ice cream that I love. For me, it’s the best ice cream shop in the city. It’s not too sweet; they always taste pure of what flavor they are. When you're working with industrial-sized ice cream, you have to buy the fake flavorings and stuff like that. But they use really good ingredients to make their ice creams.”
Off-menu vanilla soft serve with truffles at Lilia
“I love the flavor of milk. My mom would just put a spoonful of sugar in my milk and I would drink it super cold. That’s what it reminds me of. The olive oil really brings out the grassiness of the milk, and the truffle is so good. I like that mushroomy taste. It’s so simple but so delicious.”
Linzer cookies at Té Company
“Linzer cookies are usually super, super sweet, but [Frederico Ribeiro]’s cookie dough is very on point. He makes different jams to go inside, and the flavor is always good, but the one I really like is yuzu. It’s a little spicy and a little acidic. I really enjoy that.”