What is tiramisu ?
Tiramisu is probably the most well-known Italian cake and one of the best desserts in the world. How do you make it? Well, that’s the point. If you don’t know exactly how to prepare the mixture of egg yolks, sugar and mascarpone needed to cover the several layers of ladyfingers (savoiardi), then just forget about it. I haven’t even started talking about the other essential ingredient, since this time you will not be satisfied with the watered-down Starbucks version.
I know it’s hard. It takes time and requires patience and dedication. And it is even harder if you live in New York, a frantic city that allows very few occasions for you to do one thing for more than five minutes (it’s only possible when you’re waiting for the subway or when you’re trying to hail a cab…)
That’s why this city needs more people like Nadia and Alessandro, a couple who decided to offer New Yorkers the chance to forget about their cookies and donuts and bring a brand new tiramisu to their table.
Nadia Tadè and Alessandro Radice came to New York from Bergamo, near Milan, almost a year ago. In August, they opened Il Dolce Vizio at 131 Christopher Street, making the West Village the only neighborhood in Manhattan, and actually in all of the United States, to have a store that sells tiramisu – just tiramisu.
How did they decide to do this? Why did they decide to leave Italy and start making tiramisu in New York? As soon as I started asking them about their story, their eyes sparkled.
“New York is pure energy. It’s the place to be when you are young. In no other city can you feel as vibrant and alive as you do here. That’s why we decided to move to New York and start a business. As soon as we came here, we knew that we made the right decision. We felt energized by this city! We work so many hours every day, but that’s not a problem, because New York is really giving a lot back to us”.
That’s truly a declaration of love and they have the same dedication for their work.
“Why tiramisu? Because everyone loves it! Tiramisu is like a little piece of art, and to make it well you need to be precise. It’s creamy and it’s tasty, that’s why people like it, and it represents an important part of the Italian tradition of cooking. We wanted to share it with people and offer New York the real tiramisu’”
In fact, Alessandro and Nadia, 27 and 25 years old respectively, know how to make one the best tiramisus in town. How do they do it? Well, they are Italian! Just joking. Being Italian definitely helps, but that’s not enough if you want to make a great dessert.
Before coming to New York, Alessandro and Nadia spent months studying with Fabrizio Ferrari, one of the most celebrated Italian chefs, who received a Michelin star in 2010. He taught them how to measure out the ingredients and to mix them together to near perfection.
“In New York you can find tiramisu pretty easily; almost every Italian restaurant has it on its menu and there are also many bakeries that make it, but the problem is that they don’t use the right ingredients, so their tiramisu is not authentic. Take mascarpone, for example. Nobody really uses it because it’s expensive and it’s not so easy to find here. Instead, we shipped it directly from Italy”.
Well, if you still don’t believe that their tiramisu’ is completely homemade you just need to know that Nadia and Alessandro soak every single ladyfinger that goes into each tray of tiramisu by hand in freshly brewed coffee.
“You have to be careful with the ladyfingers since they shouldn’t be too wet or too dry. That’s why you need to soak them by hand…that’s really something that can’t be done on a larger scale using a machine.” Simple, isn’t it?
Even though at Dolce Vizio they have only tiramisu (so far), you won’t get bored at all. In fact, you can have your tiramisu in dozens of different flavors. The classic version is for those who want to try the original recipe, while the experienced tiramisu-eaters can enjoy their favorite dessert flavored with limoncello or raspberries, mango, nutella, granola, amaretti, strawberries, pistachios…