Time-Tested Dessert: 7 Reasons Why Cheesecake Is Quintessential NYC

New York cheesecake is unique because of its heavy-handed use of heavy cream and/or sour cream--not to mention legendarily large slices. 

While the popularity of this intensely satisfying and often heavy confection has it origins in Rome, it was in Great White Way area restaurant called Turf circa 1929, where owner Arnold Reuben created his own cheesecake recipe based on a friend's wife's recipe. 

She apparently used cottage cheese, but he started experimenting with his own ingredients including cream cheese, and it quickly because Turf's most popular dessert.  

Lindy's opened its first store in Midtown West in 1921, but a couple food historians have explained that Lindy's (referred to as "Mindy's" in the play Guys And Dolls) did not have cheesecake in the early years--it was their second store opened in 1929 that got New Yorkers lined up for their creamier-than-ice-cream fix. 

Undoubtedly, Lindy's large slices created intense competition for Turf, although Turf was definitely a fancier joint. Lindy's has referred to their cheesecake as "The Most Famous in the US," but older cheesecake afficionados have explained that the recipe has changed since they changed hands circa 1957. 

In these finicky foodie times, upscale eateries have morphed the classic cheesecake recipe to include odd herbs and fruits. Several Mexican fusion eateries have created spicy cheesecakes, while one of the most unusual is the truffle cheesecake at Mulino A Vino at 337 West 14th Street. 

Here are seven reasons why cheesecake is the cheesiest legend of NYC-- in a good way --and why New Yorkers will always make a beeline for it even if they claim to be health buffs.

1. Healthy-ish

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Cheesecake can be modified to not include sugar, thus passing the Dr. Atkins' low carb test. 


It also can be made to order for low fat dieters by using low fat cottage cheese, cream cheese, marscapone or Neuchatel.

2. Time-tested

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Cheesecake has withstood the test of time. It is a dessert that is loved by all strata of society. 

It is a standard at honky-tonk bars that serve cheap and fast fare, as well as the old-school classy New York joints that Sinatra frequented, like the Waldorf Astoria and Patsy's in Midtown West (Ol' Blue Eyes favorite Big Apple Italian eatery that would fly food out to him wherever he might be on tour or vacation).

3. A dessert with integrity

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Cheesecake is something that never crumbles up like other cakes--so you can carry it around town all day and it still looks great when you finally get it to your party host or hostess at night.

4. Easy on the mouth

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 It's easy on the teeth and gums. This makes it a winner for older New Yorkers and those who have been advised to eat a soft diet.


5. Easy to eat

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It has a super-creamy consistency that seems unrivaled in any other dessert save possibly for gelato! 


It has lent itself to many competitive eating contests as it is easy to get down!

6. Easy to make

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It can be mixed up and baked in less than an hour, and only requires five or six ingredients. It can sit out for hours without getting mushy! 

It is also beyond wonderful topped with whipped cream-- the two consistencies of creaminess together are the stuff that rich dessert addicts dream of.

7. Easy to find

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It is as tied to the New York food scene as pushcart hot dogs and pretzels.

 It's the dessert New Yorkers as well as out-of-towners go back to every time when they are undecided what exactly to get from the dessert list.

Check out 9 Best Vegetarian Restaurants in NYC

[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram] 

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