The Boccone Dolce at Papa Haydn Is Beautifully Out of Control

This towering, almost cartoonish-looking dessert is surprisingly light and fun.

Boccone Dolce (Courtesy Papa Haydn)

This year marks the 45th anniversary of Papa Haydn, the bakery and restaurant founded by Heidi and Jeff Van Dyke in 1978. Portland has changed a lot since then, but this institution has continued to serve a head-spinning menu of desserts, along with the kind of simple-yet-fresh and high-quality food that exemplifies Northwest cuisine. If you are planning to dine at one of Papa Haydn’s two locations, your experience is not complete without a slice of Boccone Dolce. At first glance, this towering, almost cartoonish-looking dessert appears to be a dense and heavy cake, but to devour it is to discover layers of sweet and tingly meringue in what is a surprisingly light and fun dessert. Your best bet is to share a slice with some friends and allow yourself to experience a whole cross section of meringue, fluffy whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, and fresh strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and bananas in each bite (don’t forget to have the dollop of whipped cream on the side that has the flavor and consistency of buttercream frosting). In terms of visual appeal and playfulness, the Boccone Dolce is a top-tier dessert sure to impress even the pickiest sweet tooths. It’s also gluten-free, making it one of the most inclusive dessert options in town. There’s a host of reasons why Papa Haydn is legendary, but one of the biggest and best is the Boccone Dolce.

5829 SE Milwaukie Ave., 503-232-9440; 701 NW 23rd Ave., 503-228-7317; 11:30 am-10 pm Wednesday-Sunday. $12.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.