Expertly prepared, the tiramisu at Pino’s has been on every menu at every restaurant that chef has owned going back 25 years. The lady fingers soaked in real espresso are imported from Italy, and so is the high-quality mascarpone cheese. Pino’s creamy, smooth, layered custard dessert is light but has structure and wonderful texture. There’s a dusting of cocoa atop each piece, along with a flurry of shaved dark chocolate. $7.95.
At family-owned Caragiulos, the dolce section of the menu makes choice difficult, because everything looks wonderful. But the Nutella cheesecake with Oreo crust, creamy layers of light and dark and a bit of toasted hazelnut and fresh whipped cream on top is a sure winner. A decoration of fresh fruit and a cookie add to its allure. $7.50. 69 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, (941) 951-0866.
Regular guests at Chianti know about Josie’s bread pudding with caramel sauce, and they sometimes order it to go because, heated in the toaster oven (never the microwave) the next morning, it makes a comfort-food breakfast. This is a sweet, dense, extravagant bread pudding that starts with the essential: great bread—in this case, croissants. In the restaurant, it comes with ice cream. $7.95.
At his eponymous Italian restaurant, Angelo’s, chef/owner Angelo DiFiori does a Mediterranean version of Bananas Foster composed and flambéd tableside for heightened dessert drama. Besides the bananas, Angelo’s fruity Italian riff includes figs and strawberries under the traditional liqueur-infused sumptuous satiny glaze. Served over ice cream. $12.
Chef Joe DiMaggio’s recipe for Toasted Almond Tiramisu at Cafe BarBosso comes from his Italian grandmother, who made it for her family only on holidays. It’s a traditional preparation for this custard coffee-flavored dolce, but some ingredients are different—almond biscotti, Frangelico (hazelnut and herb liqueur), angel cake and a little lemon for brightness.