Falora might only offer two desserts, but they’re two good ones.
Both desserts, the Panna Cotta and the Torta, are creations of Chef Kerry Lane, wife of Falora owner Ari Shapiro.
Lane has since departed from Falora to start Beaut Burger, a plant-based burger joint slated to open later this year. Departure aside, Falora still serves Lane’s delicious desserts.
If you’ve never had panna cotta, it’s an Italian custard dessert with a similar consistency of flan.
“We first thought about making flan, but our oven doesn’t get below 400 degrees,” Lane said. “That oven is our only method of making things here, so the flan would just curdle if we made it.”
“We thought of panna cotta in a jar,” she said. “It’s a nice, light dessert after pizza.”
Falora’s panna cotta is infused with fresh vanilla beans instead of vanilla extract, poured into small mason jars, and chilled.
“Our panna cotta is different than others because we honor the simplicity of really good ingredients,” she says.
If you’ve ever paid a visit to Falora, you know the restaurant serves Neapolitan-type pizza which comes from Naples, Italy, is wood-fired, and usually incorporates authentic ingredients.
“The panna cotta mirrors the heart of what Neapolitan pizza is—fantastic dough, mozzarella, olive oil, and San Marzano tomatoes,” Lane said. “Great Neapolitan is the simplicity of really good ingredients. The panna cotta is just that. It’s a nice harmony of cream, sugar, and real vanilla.”
Seasonal, handmade jams top the panna cotta.
“We rotate the toppings to get creative with our flavors,” she says. “We make jams based on whatever fruit is in season. We’ve done candied almonds and pecans, too.” On my visit, Falora offered blueberry and raspberry jams.
Lane describes the torta as a vegan cheesecake or a flourless chocolate cake with a mousse-like texture. It’s made with cashews, cacao, sugar, and vanilla and has a nut crust. A vanilla or berry swirl tops the dessert.
“I made the torta at home one day and Ari mentioned that it should be added to the menu,” she said. “It’s only been on the menu for about a year, but it’s a nice dessert.”
Lane says it was important to Falora to ensure one of the desserts was vegan.
“We have a lot of people who don’t eat cheese due to a dairy allergy or because they’re strict vegans,” she says. “We already have so many other regular menu items that are vegan or can be adjusted to be vegan, so a vegan dessert was important.”
Dessert in the Desert is a new series highlighting desserts in Tucson. The main courses at restaurants get all the rage, as they should, but what about desserts? They deserve a spotlight, too.