Reno’s sweetest treats

Dillon Vance of Rolled: Mountain Creamery at Dorinda’s Chocolates prepares Thai rolled ice cream.

Dillon Vance of Rolled: Mountain Creamery at Dorinda’s Chocolates prepares Thai rolled ice cream.


Along with the rest of our Reno food renaissance, independent bakeries and creameries have been enjoying much growth and success. My wife and I recently decided to do a “carb crawl,” a sugar bomb equivalent of a pub crawl. Despite our best efforts, we barely dented the list of new and established purveyors of sweet treats, but we had fun trying.

Tastes like Europe
Josef’s Vienna Bakery

933 W. Moana Lane

We began with a bakery that’s been a Reno fixture since 1980. We were told the tiramisu is the single most popular item, and it’s no wonder. It had a pleasant filling that wasn’t too sweet, and the ladyfingers held up well in their dousing of espresso. Next, my eye was drawn to a variety of brightly colored French macarons—not to be confused with macaroons—something you don’t find all that often here. We tasted pistachio, lemon and chocolate, with the latter being the least sweet and most enjoyable. The lemon had nice flavor but was much sweeter, and the pistachio was so sweet I could hardly detect the nut flavor. The texture was that unique combination of crispy, baked meringue with a slightly chewy interior. Macarons this sweet aren’t my favorite thing, but they certainly look pretty.

Frozen and dreamy
Simple Ice Cream Sandwiches

960 S. Virginia St.

The basic menu of this cute little shop lives up to the name, though the walls are festooned with so much kitschy decor you may be momentarily distracted from ordering. You start by choosing a cookie—or two different types of cookie—and then one of eight flavors of ice cream provided by Minden’s Hoch Family Creamery. That’s it. The cookies are served warm, which sounds great but does make eating the sandwich something of a race against time. As the baked goods are provided by local Rounds Bakery, a “Notacrosandwich” is available, as well as a wafflewich. My wife’s mint chip ice cream with chocolate chip cookies was good, though it seemed a little small. Not so with my scoop of salted caramel between two halves of a warm notacronut. I lost the race against the melting confection, but it was worth it.

Pass the eclairs
Franz’s Backstube Austrian Bakery

3882 Mayberry Drive

We ordered a sampling of Franz’s most popular items, beginning with a strudel pastry filled with apple, raisin, cinnamon and other spices, dusted in confectioner’s sugar. The pastry was very flakey and light, and the spices worked well with the fruit. A strawberry tart with a nice, flaky crust was stuffed with ripe strawberries and a light amount of thickened sweetness to hold it together. A slice of lemon-almond-raspberry cake was light and fragrant, but my favorite thing was the chocolate eclair. I’m always looking for a true eclair, with Bavarian cream piped into an intact choux pastry, rather than it being sliced in half and stuffed in a way that will lead to disaster. Everything about this eclair was exactly what I long for, the stuff of childhood dreams.

Thai treat
Rolled: Mountain Creamery at Dorinda’s Chocolates

727 Riverside Drive

The 2015 emergence of Thai rolled ice cream in the U.S. began in places like New York City, spreading quickly to Los Angeles, the Bay Area, etc. The fact that it is now available in Reno speaks to our burgeoning food scene and the entrepreneurial spirit of those who are making it happen. Popular throughout Southeast Asia—where it is also known as stir-fried ice cream—the dessert involves the use of a small, teppan grill that is chilled to -35 degrees. You select a flavor of ice cream and then one or two extra ingredients such as nuts, fruit, candy, etc. The liquid mixture is then mashed and blended on the grill with a pair of small spatulas as it instantly begins to freeze, then spread into a thin layer covering the pan. The now-frozen spread is cut into broad strips which are scraped and rolled into tubes of what looks like an ice cream crepe. Several tubes are placed standing on end in a cup and either served as-is or with additional toppings. My choice of plain lemon was a little overwhelming at first, with a very creamy texture that almost made me feel like I was eating frozen butter. But the flavor was so good I got over it. My wife’s “Death by Chocolate” lived up to the name. She loved it. I nearly expired after one intense, chocolatey bite.

Mini munchies
Mix Cupcake Co. and Levi’s Pies

655 Booth St.

I have to be honest, I really thought the whole cupcake thing would fade after a couple of years. Of course, these little cakes are far from the grade-school bake-sale sort, with flavors and toppings designed for an adult palate. The cakes themselves were moist and the toppings weren’t overdone, which I appreciate. I enjoyed the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and devil’s food with espresso topping quite a bit, but we stopped at two to make room for pie. Wanting to sample a variety—and doubtful we could finish an entire full-sized pie—we ordered a four-pack of tart-sized “cutie pies.” Unfortunately, none of them met the high expectations I had going in. The crusts were very crumbly, and the fillings’ flavors were a bit lost against all the flour. Jumbleberry was best—essentially a jam pie—and the lemon chess tasted much like a good lemon bar. Both the caramel apple and straight apple pies were too bready and dry. Perhaps some things just don’t scale down well.

Blast from the past
Honey Treat Yogurt

5000 Smithridge Drive

Long before the current “froyo” craze, there was the original boom and bust of frozen yogurt shops running from the late ’70s into the early ’90s. Originally part of a small local chain, the lone remaining Honey Treat shop has been serving the same quality product since 1982, with 12 flavors that rotate from week to week and plenty of toppings, including candies, cookies, fresh fruit, granola, nuts, etc. Visiting this shop reminds me of high school group dates, and to this day my sister says this is the only “real” frozen yogurt in town. She has a point. It’s the last of the original boom still standing.

Pie o’ mine
Homage Bakery

519 Ralston Street

A slice of something called a Continental was new and us. It’s a cheesecake crust topped with a light, tangy custard reminiscent of sour cream and meringue—though no eggs are involved—finished with a thin wafer of dark chocolate. I’ve had nothing else like it and can’t wait to try it again with a cup of strong, black coffee. Another item new to me—the Kouign-Amann—is something of a cross between a croissant and puffed pastry, apparently the original inspiration for the Cronut. Layers of butter, sugar and pastry are baked until the whole thing caramelizes. The Homage version is a little sticky, a little gooey, and a lot delicious. However, those items were totally bested by the peanut butter pie, featuring a crust reminiscent of crushed Oreo cookies, a smooth peanut butter custard filling, and decorative, decadent, semi-dark chocolate layer on top. If you intend to share this item, be ready for a fight. Forks at dawn! Ω