New York City’s bakeries are churning out some inventive pies worth saving room for this holiday season. Some are nostalgic classics, only better; others sport rosemary marshmallow fluff or come spiked with bourbon. While some of these will be up for grabs throughout the winter, we suggest you get to ordering if you’d like to see one of these gracing your table at an upcoming holiday celebration. Here are the 10 best pies in NYC.
10. Baked (359 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn; 718-222-0345)
Sugar fiends who like their desserts crammed with goodies should note this spot, where you can get brooksters — brownies stuffed with chocolate chunk cookie batter. But you should pick a classic pie, and that’s the pumpkin. The crust, made of oats and flour, frames the silky pumpkin filling, which is flavored with seasonal spices. Relax. This is pumpkin spice for people with common sense.
How to Order: Pies are available on a first-come, first-served basis until the day before Thanksgiving. Call the Tribeca location at 212-775-0345. The deadline to order is November 24.
9. Four and Twenty Blackbirds (439 Third Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-499-2917)
The country décor helps to fake a rural setting at this Gowanus favorite, and South Dakota-born sisters Emily and Melissa Elsen never steer you wrong. Choose from reliably delectable flavors like the bourbon pear crumble, pink peppercorn chocolate, and buttermilk chess. This fall, go for the sweet potato apple crumble pie. The edges of the crust look picture-book-perfect, the sneaky Angostora bitters temper the sweetness, and the topping is exemplary. Note that you’re limited to four options for Thanksgiving: bittersweet chocolate pecan, salted caramel apple, brown butter pumpkin, and salty honey.
How to Order: Call 718-499-2917 during business hours and order one of the four pies off the Thanksgiving menu.
8. Butter & Scotch (available at Dean & Deluca, 560 Broadway, 212-226-6800)
The bourbon ginger pecan pie here is the one that launched Allison Kave’s first business, First Prize Pies. It’s also the best move for Thanksgiving; the sticky affair is swoonworthy. Made with European butter, this pie mixes fresh, ground, and dried ginger in the filling. Maple syrup replaces the more typical corn syrup, and, most importantly, the bourbon is Maker’s Mark.
How to Order: Order online. The deadline is November 20. Orders will be shipped on November 24 or be available for pickup at the new Crown Heights location from November 25 through November 27.
7. Pie Corps (77 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn; 917-721-3052)
The jam-packed vintage pie case lives up to the bakery’s namesake with crisped tarts for days. The bakery wanted to do something less traditionally seasonal for fall. “Our customers always want berry or more summery pies in fall and winter, so this was our alternative for that desire when summer fruit is not in season,” says co-founder Cheryl Perry. Trust her instincts. The sweet cranberry with orange rosemary is bright thanks to some serious citrus action. Its marigold-colored crust gets packed with orange zest and fresh rosemary, and to liven up the cranberries, the baker grates in fresh apple, ground spices, and lemon.
How to Order: Order online. The deadline is November 23.
6. Momofuku Milk Bar (251 East 13th Street, 347-577-9504)
Christina Tosi’s latest creation is made for your inner child. Caramel and apple compote are fused into a pie that’s thin and compact; it’s baked into a crust made of toasted pretzels and graham crackers hammered into dust, and glazed with a layer of soft milk chocolate and caramel. White chocolate and caramel are dragged over the top, to great effect. This pie is also the least likely to get messed up in transit.
How to Order: Order online. This pie will be available through January 31, 2015.
5. Bien Cuit (120 Smith Street, Brooklyn; 718-852-0200)
Executive chef Justin Binnie wanted to upgrade the traditional pumpkin pie by making it nuttier and more complex. His resultant creation has all the requisite holiday spiciness — nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon — but as it’s smothered in chicory caramel glaze, it tastes like something new. The crust is super soft and doughy, the meringue toasted, and pumpkin seeds supply some crunch. Best of all, you still get your familiar pumpkin and marshmallow fix. If you need a second pie, don’t miss the fudgy chocolate pecan.
How to Order: Order in person at the bakery or call 718-576-3760. Pies will be available November 24 through 27.
4. Benoit (60 West 55th Street, 646-943-7373)
The swank setting of this reputable midtown French shrine primes you for an exercise in finesse. The kitchen turns out a pie that will please the gluten-free people in your life. A rice flour crust is filled with elegant pumpkin custard made with pumpkin puree, cinnamon, fennel seeds, star anise, ginger, and cloves. Cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean pods festoon the caramelized top.
How to Order: Order online or call 646-943-7373.
3. Buttermilk Bake Shop (339 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-689-4376)
Families storm this tiny bakery for goodies like triple chocolate chunkers, vegan gingerbread cookies, and monkey buns. But for Thanksgiving, the cranberry apple crumb pie with walnut streusel is heaven sliced. “When they’re baking, it’s always the first thing customers ask about when they walk in the door,” says owner Katie Rosenhouse. It’s crammed full of tender apple slices, and the walnut streusel gets dusted in sugar, much like the topper on the best coffee cakes. And then there’s the impeccably crinkled crust. There’s an open kitchen, if you like to watch.
How to Order: Order by phone, email email@example.com, or place your order in person at the bakery. The deadline for Thanksgiving is November 21.
2. Robicelli’s (9009 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn; 917-509-6048)
It’s not enough to say this pie is dense, because it’s monster-thick. “We like a thick-cut apple because it gives you a bit of bite on the pie, rather than it being complete mush,” chef Allison Robicelli explains. You’ll dive into endless layers of the fruit beneath the trestle of apple-crisp-style brown-sugar streusel. That all gets drenched in salted caramel made with Evan Williams bourbon. This is the quintessential American pie dosed with smoky whiskey.
How to Order: Order online. The deadline for pre-order is November 21, and the place delivers to Brooklyn and Manhattan throughout next week. After that, pies will be available for walk-ins next week, but stock cannot be guaranteed.
1. M. Wells (22-25 Jackson Avenue, Queens; 718-786-1800)
Over-the-top delicious things are to be expected of this place, and the first pumpkin pie of the season is no exception: It’s decadently topped with a thick dome of flame-scorched marshmallow swirls seasoned with rosemary. Pastry chef Bethany Costello makes this with Vif d’Etampes (Cinderella pumpkins), though there’s nothing overly pumpkin-y about it. Still, every bite sends you into a state of euphoria. Maybe you have a special someone to be thankful for, maybe you don’t, but either way, meet your new soul mate.
(Note: This is a nine-inch pie, and the picture above is just the sample size, which would be easy to pound back by the baker’s dozen.)
How to Order: Call 718-786-9060 or email Info@MagasinWells.com. The deadline is November 24 and pies will be available for pickup at M. Wells Dinette or Steakhouse.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 17, 2014