Boccone Dolce (Italian for “sweet mouthful") is a dessert specialty of Sardi’s, a restaurant in the theater district at 234 West 44th Street. Sardi’s has entertained Broadway performers and patrons since 1927. Although Boccone Dolce probably has its origins in northern Italy (the Piedmont region (where Vincent Sardi, Sr. was born in 1885), it was Sardi’s restaurant that made the dish famous (dating at least from the 1950s).
Sardi’s says its “sweet mouthful” is made with meringue, fresh strawberries, whipped cream and a touch of chocolate.
Sardi’s is a restaurant in New York City’s theater district at 234 West 44th Street in Manhattan. Known for the hundreds of caricatures of show-business celebrities that adorn its walls, Sardi’s opened at its current location on March 5, 1927.
Creation and early years
Vincent Sardi, Sr. (S. Marzano Oliveto -Italy- December 23, 1885 - November 19, 1969) was born as Melchiore Pio Vincenzo Sardi. He and his wife Eugenia ("Jenny") Pallera (Castell’Alfero -Italy- July 14, 1889) opened their first eatery, The Little Restaurant, at 146 West 44th Street in 1921. When that building was slated for demolition in 1926, they accepted an offer from the theater magnates, the Shubert brothers, to relocate to a new building the brothers were erecting down the block. The new restaurant, Sardi’s, opened March 5, 1927.
While the Sardi family was Italian, the cuisine of their restaurant is not; rather it tends toward “English food”, a continental menu. In 1957, Vincent Sardi, Jr. collaborated with Helen Bryson to compile a cookbook of Sardi’s recipes. Curtain Up at Sardi’s contains nearly 300 recipes ranging from grilled cheese sandwich to champagne cocktail.
Sardi’s - Desserts
Boccone Dolce- A Sardi’s special!
This “sweet mouthful” is made with Meringue,
Fresh Strawberries, Whipped Cream
and a Touch of Chocolate $12.00
30 May 1958, New York (NY) Times, “Off-Broadway Hit: Sardi’s East Opens—French Food Is Feature of Small, Intimate Restaurant” by Craig Claiborne, pg. 14:
Only five other items on the original Sardi’s menu are featured in the new. They are the hot shrimp with garlic, vichyssoise cream soup, chicken pot pie, boccone dolce and frozen cake with a zabaglione sauce.
16 May 1966, New York (NY) Times, pg. 62:
“But I have to get fatter,” she added, dipping into boccone dolce (a creamy dessert), “because Louis says I’m too thin.”
(Mia Fonssagrives, dining at Sardi’s—ed.)
12 March 1969, New York (NY) Times, “Jockey Club, an Elegant ‘Barn’ for Dining, Opens in Glitter” by Charlotte Curtis, pg. 32:
After drinks came a dinner that began with crabmeat au gratin and went on to steak, a green salad and a plate of strawberries mixed with whipped cream in a meringue. Herb Gruder, who owns the Jockey Club as well as Ad Lib, used to call the dessert Boccone Dolce.
“Buit nobody understood it,” he said. “I changed it to La Dolce Vita.”
14 September 1975, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI), “A made-in-Madison original” by Helen Metheson, section 5, pg. 10, cols. 1-4:
It is Boccone Dolce (Sweet Mouthful), an elegant dessert inspired by a recipe from Sardi’s famous theatrical restaurant in New York City.
Nine large egg whites
Two cups sugar
One teaspoon cream of tartar
One and one-half teaspooons vanilla
Nine ounced chocolate chips
Four tablespoons water
One and one-half pints whipping cream
One tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
One pint fresh strawberries, sliced
Beat egg whites stiff. Gradually add sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla. Preheat overn to hot (450 F). Butter a 9 by 13 inch pan. Pour in egg white mixture. Bake two minutes, then turn off oven and keep it closed until oven is cool. (Can bake at night and leave overnight in oven).
Melt chocolate chips in water in double boiler. When cool, spread on top of baked egg white mixture. Whip cream; add one tablespoon confectioners’ sugar. Spread half of this on top of the chocolate. Top with strawberries, reserving a few for garnish, and then rest of whipped cream. Decorate with remaining strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Yield: 16 servings.
20 February 1977, Des Moines (Iowa) Register, “Food” by Josef Mossman, pg. 4C, col. 3”
This is indeed a seasonal dessert, for frozen strawberries simply will not do in Boccone Dolce.
Eavesdropping one time in Sardi’s in New York, I heard a diner explaining Boccone Dolce to a companion.
“I think it’s made in Heaven,” he said, “and delivered here daily by angels.”
For many years Vincent Sardi, Jr., was quite cagey and evasive about the Boccone Dolce recipe, but in recent years it has appeared in several cookbooks.
Once again you preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Beat 6 egg whites as described above, adding 1 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt gradually until the peaks are stiff. Cut out four rounds of paper on parchment 9 inches diameter, or draw 9-inch circles on baking parchment.
Cover each circle with meringue and bake as described above, turning off the oven if the meringue starts to tan.
One recipe says to turn the meringue layers over during the drying process, but that takes a surer hand than I have ever known. Better just let them dry thoroughly in the oven, then cool them thoroughly before going ahead.
Melt 1/4 pound of semisweet chocolate in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, and pour it evenly over the meringue layers.
Whip a pint of cream until it is stiff, and fold in a pint of strawberries, fresh, cold, chopped. Cover three of the layers with the cream and berries, top off with the fourth layer, wrap in waxed paper and chill in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
To serve, cover the entire cake with sweetened whip cream and garnish with whole strawberries.
If you are on a weight-loss diet, you may be interested to know that an elaborate electronic computer system went into frenied self-destruction in an attempt to compute the caloric content of Boccone Dolce.
13 December 1982, New York magazine, pg. 50, col. 3:
Another specialty is given as “Boccone Dolce,” a slippery meringue studded with mostly white strawberries under cold, airless whipped cream.
16 December 2001, New York (NY) Times, pg. CY15 ad:
NEW YEAR’S EVE MENU
Meringue, Fresh Strawberries
Whipped Cream and a Touch of Bitter Sweet Chocolate
The Art of the Dessert
By Ann Amernick, Margie Litman
Photographs by Taran Z
Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons
MACAROON MERINGUE TORTE
When I was sixteen, my mother took me to New York City as a graduation present. We went to the theater and afterwards, as a special treat, to Sardi’s. I was thrilled beyond words. One of the specialties was a dessert called Boccone Dolce, a meringue, strawberry, and whipped cream affair enhanced with a crackle of chocolate. I never forgot it. I thought about making my own version of the cake with Amaretti di Saronna cookies added to the meringue.
New York City • Food/Drink • (1) Comments • Thursday, February 19, 2009 • Permalink