Immediately after my parents’ divorce my father entered into what I call his “slutty phase.” He went out and bought a used 1966 Mustang with the original faded black velvet upholstery and had the outside painted bright cherry red at the nearby Earl Scheib for $99. Facebook didn’t exist, and this was before online dating, so all the yentas from the synagogue and friends from Rotary Club set him up. But quantity wasn’t really the issue as much a quality was.
Being a handsome Jewish doctor with a vintage Mustang was all he needed to get women, but he was in desperate need for a wife. Someone who would be a role model and mother figure to us three boys. Someone who could cook, clean, and decorate the house with real furniture and not just patio chairs and exercise bikes. Finding someone to fill my mother’s shoes wasn’t going to be easy, and my dad didn’t have all the time in the world to go on date after date with any one woman, just to find out on the fifth outing, that they only wanted a discount on designer eyewear and weren’t actually up to the task of marrying into our dysfunctional family. Besides, it was expensive to spend that kind of money on someone who wasn’t going to stick around.
So my brothers and I, and sometimes our friends who’d be hanging out for dinner, ended up being the perfect filter for him. He’d bring his first dates into the house, past the entranceway and into the living room to meet us. “Say hello boys,” he’d say, and like clockwork we’d all look up from our textbooks or the Nintendo games we were playing, just long enough to make eye contact or grunt in their general direction. And any woman who couldn’t see past the living room full of sweaty pre-teen boys, greasy pizza boxes, paper plates, and general lack of hygene (think Lord of the Flies) would pretty much checkout after that night’s dinner.
For my dad, finding a wife as a chubby middle-aged, five-foot-three, divorced man with his second-degree black belt in karate, may have seemed daunting, but at least we had each other. Oh and did I mention he’s bald? Which I’m convinced isn’t actually genetic, but instead the result of scratching his head for hours on end as he stared at the mountain of dirty clothes spilling out from the laundry room as if that was somehow going to magically make them clean again. It took a few years, but eventually he met my stepmother, after a series of “serious ones,” and she brought a woman’s touch to his home.
But before that, while my father was still channeling his inner gigolo, my brothers and I barely survived our time at the bachelor pad (aka, the days we weren’t at mom’s house). I used to wait up past bedtime for him to come home, but when that didn’t seem like it was going to happen, I remember giving the television a hug and a kiss goodnight instead. When he was out we’d get into mammoth pillow fights, and once pushed my brother’s friend’s ass through the drywall in the dining room. It took my father a week to notice the gaping hole in the wall. My father always had my mother and our housekeepers to cook for us, so when we were on our own, we had a lot of Kraft Mac & Cheese, Pizza Hut pizza, caffeine-free Diet Coke, Entenmann’s coffee cake, and of course— New York style cheesecake (aka, the best cheesecake ever!).
The Best Cheesecake Ever is at D’Aiuto’s in Chelsea
My father has questionable taste when it comes to a lot of things, but when it comes to dessert, specifically cheesecake, he knows what he’s talking about. He’s got a trained nose, like a pig searching for truffles, only he seeks out anything with chocolate, vanilla custard, flaky pastry dough, and sweetened cheese. Maybe it was because my mother wasn’t around to tell him we couldn’t, but he loved napoleons, Boston cream pies, cheese Danish, and above all….a good piece of cheesecake. But not just any kind, New York style, which in my humble opinion is the best cheesecake ever!
So on a recent trip to New York, I did a little research and found the best cheesecake ever, and that was at the cheesecake we found at D’Aiuto’s Bakery. D’Aiuto’s cheesecake, which is sometimes called “Baby Watson Cheesecake” is the best cheesecake I’ve had in awhile. Even the awning at their store in Manhattan’s Chelsea district (on 8th Ave between 30th and 31st Streets) says it’s the “Best Cheescake On Earth.”
What makes it the best cheesecake?
Well, it’s super smooth and dense. Each bite is a little bit like putting a little spoonful of slightly sweetened cream cheese in your mouth. There’s no graininess to it, like ricotta cheesecakes can be sometimes. And notice there’s no crust either. I think that’s a sign of not only a New York style cheesecake, but a good one at that. If the cheesecake part is as good as it should be, then there’s no need to hide behind a rich buttery crust. Although, if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t reject a crusted slice of cheesecake if someone gave one to me.
What’s your favorite place to get cheesecake? Doesn’t matter if it’s in New York, Los Angeles, or anywhere else….we’re always on the lookout for a good piece of creamy rich cheesecake and want to hear from you! Leave a comment below and let us know your favorite spots.