Rustic Italian Desserts At Locanda Verde| Tribeca, NYC

Pastry chef Karen DeMasco sweetens the deal at Locanda Verde

Consider this a thank-you note to Cleveland: The towering talents behind the new Locanda Verde–chef Andrew Carmellini and pastry chef Karen DeMasco–both grew up there. And although their Italian menu doesn't exactly reflect their Ohio roots, there's something of the heartland in their unpretentious, boldly flavorful creations.

To complement Carmellini's seasonally driven, refined-rustic Italian dishes, DeMasco–who won fans for her outrageously delicious and down-home confections at Craft–is turning out pastries that make it a crime to skip dessert.

She describes her sweets modestly as "supersimple," but don't be fooled. Fierce flavors, like those in her tangy lemon tart with buttermilk gelato and limoncello granita, are evidence of a genius at work. Other creations, including malted-milk chocolate gelato served with polenta-shortbread cookies (click here to download the cookie recipe), show off her nostalgic side.

DeMasco and Carmellini collaborated on the menu's only wildly over-the-top dessert, an Italian-style sundae called La Fantasia di Fragola, which is piled with rhubarb and fior di latte gelatos, strawberries, Marsala sabayon, balsamic meringue and little cubes of lemon shortcake.

But if you've indulged in Carmellini's cooking to the point of not being able to handle dessert, stop by Locanda Verde the morning after: DeMasco is also making the pastries for the restaurant's new sidewalk café.

Locanda Verde, The Greenwich Hotel, 377 Greenwich St. (between Franklin and Moore sts.); 212-925-3797 or