Washington Square News

NYU Senior’s New Dessert Bar Blends Beauty and Nature

Lauren Dimundo

By Katherine Shi, Contributing Writer

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Perched on the corner of Seventh Street and First Avenue, a tiny cafe decorated with colorful rose petals is the belle of the block. Stepping inside this mysterious cafe called “Rose and Basil”, which was co-founded by Stern Senior William Wang, is like entering the fantasy world of Alice in Wonderland. One can’t help but to be amazed by the scents of romanticism in the air as well as the cozy, delightful environment.

Ioana Holt, co-founder and chief pastry chef of Rose and Basil, dreamed of creating a charming place for New Yorkers to escape the chaotic city vibes and immerse themselves in a miraculous, magical dreamland.

“I want people to step into a place where time stops a little bit and there are fairies in the back putting stuff into our truffles,” Holt said.

Their lavender chocolate truffles pair perfectly with Rose and Basil’s signature rose latte as well as the Rose and Basil Mini-Cake. Surprisingly, the organic and vegan truffles (only 50 calories) offered here taste just as good as the decadent Godiva chocolate which counts around
100 calories.

According to Wang, who serves as both the investor and co-founder of Rose and Basil all while completing a finance degree at Stern, the cafe’s desserts are special for more than just their taste.

“Our truffles are 100 percent gluten-free and organic, without containing any trans-fat, colorants or processed ingredients,” Wang said. “We want to offer our customers some healthy and delicious treats by replacing the added sugar with dried powder fruit essence, Stevia or maple syrup to lower the calories and achieve a perfect balance between nutrition and taste.”

Not only are the chocolate truffles delicious and guilt-free, but the cakes and pastries served in Rose and Basil are also stunning, healthy and mouthwatering. One of the most popular items this season, Rose and Basil Mini-Cake, is made of gluten-free basil sponge cake — the basil is grown in the back of the restaurant — with rose butter cream. The roses come all the way from Holt’s home country of Romania. The open kitchen in the back allows customers to witness the whole production process, offering transparency to customers while encouraging them to touch and smell the freshness of natural food.

Growing up in Romania, Holt started baking at age five with her grandmother. She combines her Eastern European heritage with her professional training experience from an Austrian bakery to create some of Rose and Basil’s bestsellers.

“It is in Austria where I learnt about truffle making and also how much sugar can affect you negatively, as I gained ten kilograms working in the bakery,” Holt said. “So I want to make something tastes just as amazing but without these negatives, without feeling guilt afterwards, and there comes the inspiration of Rose and Basil.”

From small pastries such as rose bites and cannolis to the vegan and gluten-free breakfast jar paired with floral teas or artisan La Colombe espressos, this charming little cafe is the perfect place to enjoy a fabulous tea party in autumn. With its romantic decorations and cozy atmosphere, Rose and Basil cafe and dessert bar has also attracted lots of visitors and young couples who seek the pleasure of intimacy in New York City. If you are also a dessert fanatic in pursuit of healthy, nutritious sweet treats, it is definitely worth the trip to take a visit to Rose and Basil Cafe.

Rose and Basil is located at 104 E. 7th St. and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 11 print edition. Email Katherine Shi at [email protected]

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