Three Bites: Budino

Marilyn HawkesSeptember 30, 2022
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Pudding on the Ritz

Once again, the Italians vastly improve a high-dairy-fat dessert favorite. We present: budino.

Chocolate Olive Oil Budino with Pistachio Crackerjack at Lon's. Photography by Angelina Aragon
Chocolate Olive Oil Budino with Pistachio Crackerjack at Lon's. Photography by Angelina Aragon

LON’s at The Hermosa Inn
5532 N. Palo Cristi Rd., Paradise Valley

Pudding checks all the boxes of a great comfort food: sensual, nostalgic and eminently satisfying. Enter budino, pudding’s richer and heartier Italian cousin. At LON’s, pastry chef Nundi Harris makes her chocolate olive oil budino with pistachio “crackerjack” ($13, pictured) the traditional way (whipped egg yolks, sugar, cream and chocolate), but updates the garnish – toffee popcorn laced with caramel and roasted bits of pistachios tickled with sea salt. Then she adds a scoop of house-made popcorn ice cream drizzled with fragrant chocolate olive oil. It’s a creamy combo that turns a classic on its head. “The presentation is playful. I like to make desserts that make you feel at home or remember something from your childhood,” Harris says.

Fat Ox
6316 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale

At Fat Ox, the kitchen whips up a butterscotch budino ($10) that chef/owner Matt Carter says is a more modern take on the dessert. Rather than thickening the pudding with eggs or gelatin, Carter uses kappa, a seaweed thickener that provides a silky, even consistency, along with cream, sugar, vanilla paste and melted butterscotch chips. With a layer of whipped cream crowned by crumbled house-made butter cookies for texture, this sweet, golden-hued delight is refreshing after a satiating Italian dinner. Carter is a big fan of budino and has always offered variations of the velvety pudding, from lemon and chocolate to hazelnut and praline, at his restaurants. “Name a flavor and you can make a budino out of it.” His favorite? Butterscotch.

Hush Public House
14202 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale

When chef/owner Dominic Ruggiero first put together the Hush Public House menu, he wanted to include a dessert for chocolate lovers, so he fashioned a chocolate budino ($11) that has since become a menu mainstay. Hush’s approach is conventional – egg yolks, sugar and corn starch with a mix of milk and dark French Valrhona chocolate to add a luxurious touch. The kitchen lines the bottom of a Mason jar with house-made chocolate cookie crumbs, then adds the budino and tops off the whole affair with freshly whipped cream, shaved dark chocolate, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of French sea salt. The servers offer guests this pro tip: Scoop all the way through the jar to taste all three layers at once. “That’s the ideal bite,” Ruggiero says. We agree.


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