The Best Dozen: Bella Napoli

bella_napoli_donuts_in_box.jpg

By Daniel B.

We've enlisted Daniel B. to survey Capital Region donuts -- and pick his favorites -- for a short series called "The Best Dozen."

Donuts are a great way to start the day. Don't listen to the naysayers. Not only do fat and sugar make human beings happy, but they provide us with a burst of quick energy. This is especially true when paired with a cup of coffee.

Nobody makes the best decisions blurry eyed at the donut shop early in the morning. And picking out the best dozen at any given shop shouldn't be left to chance. So we'll be going out and trying as many different donuts as we can to help you fill your box with the best sweet deep fried breakfast treats in the region.

First up, Bella Napoli in Troy.

About the shop

Bella Napoli excels at two opposing donut making styles. Its cake donuts have an intensely crispy crust and a dense, moist interior. On the flip side it also makes pillowy-soft yeast-raised donuts which can easily be crushed under the weight of their own filling. This old school Italian Bakery has some amazing donuts in its case, but even here not all of them are winners.

The mixed dozen

bella napoli dozen donuts on plates

Column by column, starting on the left:

Cake, Chocolate Glazed
Yeast, Classic Glazed
Filled, Boston Cream/
Cake, Plain
Filled, Apple
Filled, Sugared Raspberry Jelly/
Cake, Cinnamon Sugar
Cake, Powdered
Filled, Powdered Strawberry Jelly/
Filled, Powdered Lemon
Filled, Powdered Raspberry
Filled, Powdered Blueberry

The best of the bunch

Chocolate Glazed Cake Donut

bella_napoli_boston_chocolate_glazed_cake_donut_composite.jpg

How do you elevate the killer crust of a fried cake donut? Top it with a thick, chocolate glaze that adds crunch, richness and depth to something that's already crunchy, rich, and packed with flavor.

Boston Cream

bella_napoli_boston_cream_donut_cross_section.jpg

Boston Cream is by far the best of the filled donuts. Its chocolate glaze is completely different from the one gracing Bella Naopli's other knockout. This one is silky and spreadable. It has to be, as it is brushed on top of a donut so soft and tender that a stiffer glaze would surely tear the shell to bits. While the Boston Cream may be more modestly filled than the others from this shop, overall that works to its advantage. A little of this vanilla pudding like center goes a long way to complement the donut and not dominate the experience.

The Solid Choices

bella_napoli_plain_cake_donut_closeup.jpg

Plain Cake - There's nothing wrong with this donut. It's fantastic like it's chocolate covered cousin.

Powdered Cake - Bella Napoli's powdered sugar is so fluffy and light. And the bakery isn't shy about using a lot of it. This is fun to lick off of fingers, but it can also make a mess.

Powdered Strawberry Jelly - Holy moly, there are actual bits of strawberry in this thing, but the beast is more jelly than donut. Still, it's worth a try.

bella_napoli_blueberry_filled_donut_cross_section.jpg

Powdered Blueberry Jelly - In a world where so many blueberry foods don't have a trace of blueberries in them, this jelly contains whole berries. It's a bit thick, and there's a ton of it, but this is a definite step up from the standard jelly donut.

The Disappointments

Glazed - It achieves good height, but the interior crumb is oddly tough and would benefit from a more crackling glaze.

Apple Filled - Tastes like a deep fried McDonald's apple pie, without the things that made deep fried pies so special.

Sugared Raspberry Jelly - It's donut jelly. Nothing raspberry about it. And the neon color is also a bit alarming.

bella_napoli_cinnamon_sugar_cake_donut.jpg

Cinnamon Sugar Cake - The least impressive of the cake specimens because the granulated sugar detracts from that marvelous crust.

Powdered Lemon - Starchy. Avoid. The lemon filling is more like a paste. I love lemon, so this donut made me sad.

Powdered Raspberry Jelly - An improvement over its granulated sugar counterpart, but that was largely because it had less jelly.

The best dozen at Bella Napoli Troy

bella napoli troy exterior 2014

3 Chocolate Glazed Cake
3 Boston Cream
2 Plain Cake
1 Powdered Sugar Cake
2 Powdered Strawberry Jelly
1 Powdered Blueberry Jelly

This packs half the box with the two standout varieties. It also gives you a 50/50 split between those crusty cake donuts and the bakery's tender yeast-raised filled specimens. Two-thirds of this dozen aren't covered with powdered sugar, and that's important if you plan to eat your donut over a keyboard. And you've got three donuts that have actual fruit in them. (You know, because fruit makes them a healthier option.)

Amazingly, these twelve beauties will only set you back $7.95. Just make sure to share them, but not before snagging a chocolate glazed cake and a Boston cream for yourself.

Daniel B. is the proprietor of the FUSSYlittleBLOG.

Find It

Bella Napoli Troy
721 River St
Troy, NY 12180

Comments

I think I'm going to really enjoy this series. Now find a good donut place up near Clifton Park!

awesome

I truly do not understand the current love affair with doughnuts among foodies. The cider doughnut love is fine if you think of it as a seasonal treat, but regular doughnut intake (breakfast) is an invitation to diabetes. Call me a party pooper on the doughnut fad.

Mmmmmmm....donuts.

Come back Krispy Kreme... please come back!!!...

Not a huge donut fan (I'd rather a croissant aux amandes from Mrs. London's or a Bear Claw from Crisan for my calorie extravagance). But I love the photo of the donuts on the old school china plates.

Welcome back Daniel! Great as always.

Yes, a series after my own heart. But keyboard or no, I avoid powdered doughnuts generally at all costs. Just too messy and not worth it.

Love this!!

You can tell a lot about a person by the way they choose and eat a doughnut (and by the way, it is most definitely DOUGHnut). Opulence over the basics might show you they aren't afraid to party once in a while. If you have glaze or powdered sugar on your face and they DON'T tell you about it, walking around like an unsupervised toddler on a sugar binge, indicates they might be the kind of person that would leave you to fend for yourself in the foxhole. Don't go out for drinks on a first date. Go out for doughnuts.

The Boston Cream might be a death row meal for me (or at least part of the meal). I also second the strawberry jelly.

Let's not also forget how INEXPENSIVE these doughnuts are. I frequently by a dozen to bring to associates or to meetings, or as a thank you to someone who recently helped me with a story or project. It's hard to find a better deal that a box of doughnuts. Jennifer Novak, co-owner of Cider Belly in Albany, told me in an interview recently, "anyone can afford a doughnut....doughnuts are not a fad, they are a piece of Americana." I couldn't agree more. Looking forward to reading more in this series, and welcome back DB!

Someone just came in with Bella Napoli donuts at the office, and of course I forgot to check here before deciding what to choose. I grabbed Daniel's least favorite - sugared with raspberry. I'm sure it will still be good...

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