May the best cheesecake win: Philly vies with New York for honor

Philadelphia has the market cornered on cheesesteak. But what about cheesecake?

To answer that question, Davio’s, a restaurant in Rittenhouse Square, has thrown down the gauntlet. It will face off with ‘cesca, a restaurant on New York’s Upper West Side.

Everyone makes a cheesecake. Most are little more than a calorie-delivery system on a graham cracker crust. Davio’s pastry chef likes to change it up.

“As soon as I see something is not selling, I take it back and revamp it and try to put it back out in a different form,” said Tom Heck. “It’s always coming up with new ideas.”

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Heck folded seasonal blueberries into a sour cream cheesecake infused with vanilla bean, all on top of a crust of crushed biscotti. For the contest, he plates it alongside a sample sent down from ‘cesca, a pillowy mascarpone cheesecake infused with orange, topped with a dollop of softly whipped cream and dusted with praline crumbs.

“One was very delicate and creamy, the other was muscular with the infusion of fruit,” said Arnold Trebb, a wine seller having lunch at Davio’s. “The creamier would be more feminine, and the one with blueberries would be more masculine.”

A masculine cheesecake? If nothing else, the contest may prove that real men eat cheesecake.

“The combination of the texture and the temperature,” said Shafiq Ebrahim, also lunching at Davio’s. “The combination of ice cream and cake—it’s the best of both worlds.”

Diners in both Philadelphia and New York are invited to vote for their favorite. The losing chef must wear the opposing city’s baseball jersey.

While Chef Heck praises the subtle delicacy of his rival’s cheesecake, he can’t be caught dead in a Yankees shirt.

“I do help feed the Phillies on certain games,” said Heck. “I can’t wear anything but a Phillies uniform. I’m under contract.”

The contest lasts until Saturday, which is National Cheesecake Day.



Where have you been served up the best cheesecake of your life—New York, Philly, or someplace else entirely? Are you going to celebrate National Cheesecake Day trying to find out?

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