Cheesecake is one of the most decadent and delightful treats of all the sweets. A cheesecake should be fluffy and creamy, sugary and buttery, fresh and delicate. Because when it’s not, it’s a damn waste of calories slathered onto your hips. Being one of the best desserts also means cheesecake is one of the worst for you in terms of calories, fat, and sugar (it’s wonderful for you in terms of soul-boosting). So, it’s important when eating cheesecake to always eat a worthy cheesecake.
To ensure that all your cheesecake indulgences don’t turn into cheesecake regrets, the Advocate staff went around the area buying up cheesecakes to find the best ones in Western Mass. Here they are, from worst to first.
Giovanni’s Italian Pastries
719 Main St., Agawam
A slice of plain cheesecake with strawberries and vanilla frosting. $3
Hunter: This is the Bradley Cooper of cheesecake — there’s nothing technically wrong with it, it’s doing what it’s supposed to do, but it’s not memorable.
Kristin: I wouldn’t kick this cheesecake out of bed, but I wouldn’t go back for seconds either.
Jen: I’m sad because I love this place. They make awesome food, but I guess cheesecake isn’t one of their bests.
Chance: I feel personally offended, because I gave this the highest marks. It’s solid, though they shouldn’t have put any frosting on it.
Chris: Very common.
La Fiorentina Pastry Shop
19 Armory St., Northampton
A plain cheesecake wedge with a bit of nutmeg sprinkled on top. $3.25
Hunter: This cheesecake wishes it was a birthday cake.
Chris: It’s flavorful, but it lacks moisture, which detracts from the overall cheesecake experience.
Chance: The flavor is good. The texture is kind of like a smooth peanut butter.
Jen: I want to put whipped cream on it or dip it in something. It’s not super-sweet, but it needs something extra.
Kristin: I can really taste the cream cheese, instead of the cheesecake, you know?
ConVino Wine Bar
101 Armory St., Northampton
A wedge of ricotta cheesecake with lemon twists. $7
Kristin: This is lemony with a buttery texture, really smooth and silky. This might be a ricotta cheesecake, which I love. It is, however, too small.
Hunter: I don’t like lemon cheesecake, to me it tastes like Pine-Sol — it’s not just this cheesecake, I think all lemon cheesecakes taste like that.
Chance: This has got a great texture and a proper crust-to-cheese ratio.
Chris: It reminded me of lemon ricotta ice cream, but in cheesecake. It was like eating velvet — in a good way.
Jen: The crust was a little burnt, but the cheesecake part was so good.
UMass Amherst Campus Center inside Blue Wall 1 Campus Center Way, Amherst
Vanilla cheesecake with Nutella on top. $3.25
Hunter: This is very satisfying. It’s kind of custardy, like vanilla pudding.
Kristin: I always thought chocolate on a cheesecake was bad — bakers always seem to use that cheap, drizzle, waxy chocolate instead of the good stuff. This Nutella is awesome, it blends just right with the cheesecake adding nuttiness and chocolate without layering the top with a brown candle.
Chance: It’s got a good texture, but I’m not crazy about it. It’s a solid cheesecake.
Chris: I really appreciated the vanilla with the cheesecake, it contrasted really well with the hazelnut.
Jen: This is good, but I think the Nutella is what’s good, the cheesecake itself is just okay.
119 Daggett Dr., West Springfield
A whole cheesecake with a sour cream layer. $12.99
Chris: This is as close to a cheesecake religious experience as you can get. That cheesecake is good.
Jen: This is definitely a cheesecake you could eat plain. It doesn’t need anything else.
Chance: Pretty solid flavor, texture, and consistency. It’s a solid go-to, but it’s not something I’d have on a special night.
Hunter: I love sour cream stuff and I’m cream cheese crazy. I think it’s great. Put some chilled fruit on that and it would be so refreshing.
Kristin: This is a very good cheesecake, but for me, it loses points for inconvenience. One does not simply pop into Costco for an item. It’s a shopping sojourn and the cheesecake is all the way in the back. Plus there’s the handling fee of the Costco membership.
Cerrato’s Pastry Shop
255 Elm St., West Springfield
This cheesecake was served as a “mini” round cake with a thick layer of blueberry reduction on top. $3.50
Jen: It looked like my childhood and it tasted like my childhood. This is just like the cheesecake my grandfather would make.
Kristin: It’s creamy, custard-like with a medium weight.
Chris: The flavor of the blueberries isn’t strong enough.
Hunter: I like a graham cracker crust, but this one is soft and a little gritty.
Our Favorite: Russo Pastry Shop
739 Enfield St., Enfield, Connecticut
A mini cheesecake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream on top. $4.50
Kristin: Just like mama used to make. It’s all fresh, all love, all good. Light and fluffy and creamy and cheesy and sweet.
Hunter: This richness is a world unto itself. If you didn’t think you liked cheesecake, you should try this and change your mind.
Chris: This tastes very homemade. One thing that stuck out was how balanced the sweetness was.
Jen: It was perfect. Maybe I’d add just a little more crust. The fresh strawberries on top make a big difference. It’s got to be fresh or why bother?
Contact Kristin Palpini at firstname.lastname@example.org.