Arguing over the crème de la crème of the cream puff not only means you have to do much delicious taste-testing but also that you get to relish a series of scrumptious words, from profiterole to beignet to zeppole. Via Vai (1483 E. Valley Rd., 565-9393,, with a recent dessert offering one can only hope becomes a menu fixture, complicates the matter by offering a bignè a cioccolato, something utterly its own and lost a bit in a fog of bittersweet chocolate sauce that veered at the last second from sugary heights to keep an eater happy. No overt sugar bomb, this. Nope, all balance and exquisiteness, the choux pastry airy yet flavorful (ah butter, ah egg), the filling a rich and wisely warmed pastry cream. And then that chocolate bath, just enough bitter to let you keep eating more. Enjoy this with one of their killer cappuccinos—they do make some of the most authentic, or at least European, espresso drinks in town—and you can feel that much closer to Italy.


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