A day of Soho exploring, topped off with a burger at Soho Park and a quick pit stop at Helen Ficalora, led me straight to NoLita and directly into Rice to Riches. Not sure if it’s just that Fall has arrived or I’m plain old overindulging (or both), but comfort food has been high on my list this week – and rice pudding hits the spot. It’s hard to deny the creamy goodness of rice pudding made just right. And Rice to Riches is spot on.
With 21 nontraditional flavors like Forbidden Apple, Man-Made Marscapone w/Cherries, Honey Graham for Mr. Smith, let's face it: the fun names alone make these flavors worth trying. Oh, and if those don't sound decadent enough, you can also pick from about 10 toppings like jam, buttery graham crackers, whipped cream, buttery pound cake...sold yet?
Smitten with the bright lights, funny signs (something about "you're going to die anyway, so why diet?" seems right to me...), and beer helmet filled with rice pudding, I happily stood in a longer-than-average line at the glass case, which I would have thought was an ice cream case, if I didn't know better. Though I'm a traditionalist, I was able to sample some fun flavors, like Forbidden Apple before committing to a Diva-sized (and prepackaged) Cheesecake Rice Pudding, and a takeaway Epic-sized half Old-Fashioned Romance, half The Milk Chocolate Only Rings Twice for a party that evening. Fun packaging and scooping spoons topped off the presentation. While it's maybe not completely eco-friendly, I do intend to reuse my plastic container. Though not exactly inexpensive ($5 for a Solo size, $7 for Epic, $20 for Sumo, & $40 for Moby), it sure beats some other specialty shops in both flavor and portion (e.g. Cold Stone Creamery, a supposed - gourmet - yet - entirely - overpriced - and - overhyped ice cream shop).
The pudding itself was thick, creamy, and sweet - all the components necessary for properly wonderful rice pudding. The thing about rice pudding is that it is very easy to get it wrong in so many ways...but Rice to Riches only gets it right. Sweet, but not too sweet. Thick, but not flan-like. Ricey, but not too ricey. It was the perfect rice to pudding to sweetness ratio. And I can't wait to go back.
Beware: Pudding portions are huge. I started out with a false sense of stomach emptiness, but the RP snuck up on me in an instant making my stomach feel full and needing a post-pudding walk.
Bonus: Rice to Riches is located just across the street from famed Lombardi’s Pizza. Make Rice your dessert destination following lunch at America’s First Pizzeria.