Boston cream donuts at Bella Napoli

bella napoli boston cream donuts in box

Buy them by the box.

By Daniel B.

If you've been looking for great donuts, this is where they've been hiding.

Well, except for basic glazed, because those are better bought elsewhere. Oh, and cider donuts should be eaten at an orchard during the fall, hot out of the bag.

But for other yeast-raised or non-cider cake donuts, Bella Napoli in Troy is the place. And the pinnacle of their craft is realized in the Boston cream.

These are not the newfangled big city donuts you may have been reading about. I could easily imagine how a hand-crafted pastry cream made with local farm-fresh eggs, pure heavy cream and mounds of real vanilla beans could take this donut to extraordinary heights.

But these are the donuts of the past, the classic Northeastern style of donuts that inspired places like Dunkin' to take up the mantle of donutdom and spread it to the masses. These are the donuts that are hard to find anymore, and we are very lucky to have them in our midst. Because Bella Napoli has been making donuts before the hot pastry chefs of today were in short pants. And they know how to do it right.

Let me tell you what that means.

bella_napoli_boston_cream_donut_closeup.jpg

It starts with a donut shell, which needs to be impossibly light, crisp and tender. Its lightness comes in part from the rise, and the shells at Bella Napoli are remarkably tall. They puff up when they are fried in hot oil, and this is where the donuts get their golden color and the crisp little bits of outer crust. Inside, the crumb is moist with a tender chew that is rich and offers just a bit of resistance.

The chocolate icing tastes deeply of cocoa. A thick schmear is spread generously on the top, and it has a smooth, glossy sheen. When you bite into the donut (or jostle them) the topping cracks to reveal a softer layer down below. So beyond a rich chocolate flavor it adds another layer of texture.

bella_napoli_boston_cream_donuts_in_box_closeup.jpg

The cream brings it all into balance. I'm under no illusions about the provenance of the filling. I suspect it's a slightly better than average food service product. It tastes like you would expect. But it is generously piped through the shell pushing the total weight of each donut to an impressive four ounces. With this amount of filling, it's a challenge to maintain the donut's structural integrity as you eat it. But it's oddly refreshing and almost acts like a sip of milk to cleanse the palate after the rich chocolaty icing and fried dough, urging you on to take another bite.

bella_napoli_boston_cream_donut_interior_closeup.jpg

Here's a pro tip: Start from the hole.

Every filled donut has a hole in the side where the filling tip was inserted. If you start eating from anyplace else on the donut, invariably the filling will squeeze out the hole. But if you begin from the hole, the filling has nowhere to go.

All the same, the Bella Napoli Boston cream donuts can burst in the final bites. And that's fine so long as you are expecting it, and don't mind licking your fingers. But you may not want to eat these in your car.

bella_napoli_troy_exterior.jpg

The downside to getting your donuts in Troy is that this smaller location has no seating. The upside is that the donuts are actually better here. A former employee once told me that all of Bella Napoli's donuts are made in Troy, with a few batches being sent over to their Latham location. That would explain the difference in quality. Donuts are fragile things. They do not like being put on trucks or in vans and moved, especially not in the heat of summer nor the cold of winter.

So get a box and take them to go. A half dozen will set you back $4.95, with a dozen costing a mere three dollars more. It's almost a crime to walk out of Bella Napoli with fewer than a dozen donuts.

bella_napoli_pastry_box.jpg

Now here is your homework assignment. Bring a box of these Boston cream donuts to your next meeting. Hopefully everyone will be so floored by how good they are you'll never have to eat Dunkin' again.

If you are getting a dozen just for you, I'd recommend branching out and try some of their cake or jelly filled donuts. Just be warned, powdered sugar is even messier than cream.

And don't forget to pick up coffee and milk. You're going to need it.

This post originally stated that the donuts at Bella Napoli's Latham location are made in Troy. That is incorrect -- they're made in Latham, too. Sorry about that.

Daniel is the proprietor of the FUSSYlittleBLOG.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Eat this: Glazed donuts at the Cookie Factory
+ A short tour of Capital Region doughnuts

Find It

Bella Napoli
721 River Street
Troy, NY 12180

Comments

Every Sunday morning, after finishing my paper route, my father and I would head down to Bella Napoli and get a dozen doughnuts for breakfast. I have taken my son there a couple of times for cookies and such, and we get rolls from there for holidays, but I have forgotten about the doughnuts.

Thanks, Daniel, for rekindling an old and happy memory.

The cider donuts are also amazing.

I tried these (on your recommendation) and I just wasn't wowed. They were good, don't get me wrong, but I had a hard time getting past the chemical taste of commercial pastry creme filling. Maybe it was me and I had a bad taste in my mouth? I would LOVE to be proven wrong. I have an expectation that a truly good cream filled donut has real, from scratch pastry cream or even pudding.

Unless it's that, I'm not going to rave over it.

Every time I have eaten a boston creme from Bella Napoli, I have *always* had an underdone one. The pastry creme was surrounded by uncooked dough with a yeasty raw dough flavor. Really turned me off from buying boston cremes there.

The powdered sugar donuts are heaven. Powdery and a little crisp, they are eaten best with a tall glass of cold milk and probably outside. Sit upwind when eating with friends. :)

Bella Napoli is a big favorite of the workers at Southwest Airlines. If you want to get great service and maybe a free drink or two, bring a box to the airport and share with the gate people and fellow travelers.

After reading the intro, I was going to ask, "Why Troy and not Latham?" Thanks for answering that.

Anyone know if Bella Napoli has orange glazed donuts? I used to love Freihofer's as a kid, but they seem to have been discontinued. :(

Bella Napoli has THE BEST doughnuts in the area. Latham's a little better than Troy for boston cremes but both rule for glazed and, my favorite, cinnamon cake.

If you're buying your doughnuts elsewhere...stop! If you're gonna take on extra kilocalories, take on the best tasting ones.

I don't think I've had Bella Napoli's Boston Cream doughnuts, which is kind of surprising, as they tend to be my favorite kind of doughnut.

I did once have the strawberry filled doughnut at the Troy location and it was fantastic; I dream of a doughnut as delicious at that one. I don't typically like jelly doughnuts much, but the strawberry filling was more like a chunky ice cream topping than a smooth jelly.

The Latham location is more convenient for me, but when asked, the employees at the Latham bakery didn't even know Bella Napoli made strawberry filled doughnuts. I guess it's one variety that doesn't make the trip across the river.

Doughnuts. DOUGHnuts. Doughnuts are made from dough. "Donuts" are made from... do?

They have a Bella Napoli in Latham too.

Either spelling is acceptable. Donut has been used for almost 100 years now. The original spelling was doughnut but language evolves.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/donut

I have to agree that the filling is the weak link in this Boston Creme doughnut. They are still good, but I think their jelly doughnuts are better. I'm not sure why anyone would go to the Dunkin Donuts on either side of the Latham location. And I couldn't believe it when their glazed doughnut finished 5th in a Times Union tasting. I'd argue Bella's are significantly better than the competition in the article.

http://alb.merlinone.net/mweb/wmsql.wm.request?HIT_00000000_6279426.1

The dictionary on my desk says it's a slang spelling, not a proper one. The stylebook next to it has no mention of "donut." And again, if it's made of do, I don't think I want to eat it...

I love a good derring-donut, myself.

Just a small correction, the Latham store makes their own donuts on site. They don't transport them from Troy like the article states.

I work in the Latham location and must point out that the doughnuts in Latham are made each night by hand IN LATHAM! They are NOT transported at all.

is the troy location still open because the bakery's website only lists the latham location?

My favorite doughnut is choc-French- cruller,
don't know if Bella has them.
The last time i was in their Latham store i had a delicious veal parm sandwich, and heavenly brownie

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