March 2 – Banana Cream Pie Day
Banana cream pie: it’s not just for Vaudeville slapstick anymore! Though it totally can be, if you want, I mean, no one’s gonna tell you how to celebrate National Banana Cream Pie Day, it’s a free country, after all. But, I’m just sayin’, I think eating a delicious banana cream pie would be a better trade-off than throwing it in someone’s face. (At least get the pie thrown in your face! Then you can eat it off. :D) But seriously, folks. Banana cream pies are a delicious treat, a pie crust filled with sweet banana pudding or custard (and sometimes the crust is lined with banana slices) and topped with frothy, sweet whipped cream. It’s one of those food holidays I would not hesitate to celebrate in my own home, whipping up a pie all by myself without fear that I’ll mess it up too much (apart from the pudding, the pie can be completely bake-free if you want it to be!)
But if you’re in New York City, what’s the point of baking something yourself when there are over a dozen places (probably all in the same neighborhood!) that’ll make it better? 😛 One of such bakeries is Billy’s Bakery in Chelsea, known specifically for their banana confections, particularly banana cakes and cream pies. The pie uses a light, flaky crust–so different from the graham cracker pie tin I would’ve gotten from Keebler’s if I were to make it myself. And fresh slices of banana line the bottom, giving extra flavor to the pudding sitting on top. The pudding, whipped cream, and banana slices are distinctly sweet but not too sweet, so the large slice you get for $4.50 (or the entire pie for $26, order ahead) goes down easily. And all of the pies made by owners Marc and Wayne (neither one named Billy!) are baked fresh every day, from scratch, and always in the store. Highlighted by Serious Eats as one of the best banana cream pies in the city, I think this pie will be way more satisfying than if I tried to make it myself 🙂
184 9th Ave (between 21st St & 22nd St)
75 Franklin St (between Church St & Broadway)
“Founded in 2003, Billy’s Bakery is a collection of three stores that makes all of its old-fashioned baked goods from scratch daily, on-site. From German chocolate cupcakes to butterscotch gingerbread cookies and banana cream pies, Billy’s makes a range of sweets and treats in their 1940s-style shops.”–Travel And Leisure
“The banana cream pie, a fairly generous slice for $4.50, couples all the wonderful elements of banana pudding (minus the Nilla wafers) and tucks them into a extra flaky crust. Vanilla pudding, banana slices, and overflowing clouds of whipped cream make for a very fabulous lunch replacement whenever the craving hits.”–Serious Eats
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Billy’s banana cream pie is peeeerfection. Somehow they’ve managed to perfect the ratio of sliced banana to creme, and the pie avoids being too cloyingly sweet. Though everyone raves about the cupcakes, I actually prefer the slices of cake and pie, though you really can’t go wrong with anything here.”–Iora C.
The other banana cream pie recommended by Serious Eats isn’t even a bakery. Veselka, a Ukranian restaurant in the East Village, makes their pies a bit different from Billy’s, making a denser, heftier banana cream pie. The pie crust is shortbread-based, almost like a cookie, instead of Billy’s light, flaky crust, and they really fill the bottom with banana slices, giving you a deep punch of flavor. They barely leave any room for the custard or whipped cream, meaning you get more fruit in every bite, and it’s less sweet than Billy’s. Plus, Veselka makes their pies as individual little cups instead of slices out of a large pie, so you can ration yourself better if your willpower towards cream pies is weak. Food Network has bestowed Veselka with the award for the best Borscht they ever ate, but if I were them, I’d stick around for their banana cream pie dessert.
144 2nd Ave (between St Marks Pl & 9th St)
“For a less masochistic banana cream pie-eating experience, Veselka makes individual (although enough to satisfy two people) banana cream pies. The crust is cookie-like instead of flaky, and the filling is mostly banana with a light layer of pudding. If you have an insatiable craving for banana cream pie at 4 in the morning, you’re in luck—Veselka is open 24 hours a day.”–Serious Eats
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“I LOVE their banana creme pie too! its served on a little round tart kind of thing… tastes so fresh and real banana taste!”–Christine S.
“Before I go on describing my experience, I give them 5 STARSfor their banana cream pie. Their mountain of sweet fluffly cream combined with their shortbread cookie like crust and delectable bites of banana makes me go “bananas”for more. There was a little bit of custard, but the pieces of bananas and cream itself just went spoon well together. One thing for sure, I’m going back for more of their bananacream pie. it’s a pretty decent size for a little over 4bucks.”–R Y.