Italian Cheesecake

I’ve always preferred the light ethereal Italian cheesecake to the sometimes unctuous New York cheesecake.  The latter uses cream cheese only, but the Italian version includes sour cream for tang and ricotta for lightness.  The citrus zest is a must.

This recipe appeared in The Daily News in 1979.  It was featured in a little northern Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village called New Port Alba.  It’s both rich and delicate.  I serve it with fresh raspberry coulis, the perfect accompaniment.

1 lb. whole milk ricotta cheese

1 lb. sour cream

1 lb. cream cheese (or mascarpone)

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 stick sweet butter, melted

Pinch of salt

3 large eggs

3 T flour

3 T cornstarch

1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 ½ T pure vanilla extract

¼ t fiori di sicilia

Finely grated zest from one orange and one lemon

Have all filling ingredients at room temperature.  Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 9 X 3-inch springform pan.

In a large mixing bowl beat together ricotta, sour cream and cream cheese until well mixed.  Beat in sugar and then melted butter and pinch of salt.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add flour, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, fiori di sicilia and zest, beating until completely mixed.

Transfer to prepared pan and bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for one hour.  Turn off heat and let cake stay in oven, door closed, for another hour.  Remove and let cake cool completely in pan, set on a wire rack.  Cover and refrigerate.  Remove sides of pan before serving and serve slightly chilled.

Raspberry Coulis

In a small saucepan, mash and heat  ½ pint of fresh raspberries with 6 oz. raspberry preserves and 1 T Grand Marnier, stirring until syrupy. Strain syrup and mix with ½ pint fresh raspberries.  Serve with cheesecake.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Reginald@CeramicCanvas
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 14:32:50

    What’s not to like, I mean, love

    about cheesecake?

    I really like your use of the ricotta

    and sour cream. I’m ready to make

    some for myself.



    • phylliskirigin
      Dec 30, 2009 @ 16:57:43

      Thanks, Reg. I served it as dessert for Christmas. Everyone loved it and raved about the fresh raspberry coulis. I’m making it again to take to a New Years Day open house. This time I’m adding a chocolate crust made from pulverized Nabisco chocolate wafers and butter.


  2. CathyJ
    Jan 07, 2010 @ 14:08:00

    All I can say is that you outdid yourself with this cheesecake. But then whatever you prepare is always outstanding!


    • phylliskirigin
      Jan 07, 2010 @ 16:42:28

      Thanks, Cathy, for visiting my blog. Glad you enjoyed the cheesecake. I love making it. It’s a very straightforward, easy to make recipe. However, I always manage to get a crack on top which, fortunately, does not affect the taste.


    • phylliskirigin
      Jan 07, 2010 @ 18:18:29

      Thanks, Cathy, for visiting my blog. I’m so glad you enjoyed the cheesecake. I love making it. It’s a very straightforward, easy to make recipe. However, I always manage to get a crack on the top which, fortunately, doesn’t affect the taste.



  3. Toni Casella
    May 23, 2010 @ 01:09:08

    I was so surprised to see this recipe on the internet. This was my mother’s recipe (without the raspberry sauce) that was given to Tina Sammarone, the owner of New Port Alba restaurant in Greenwich Village. I lived in the same apartment building as Tina, Duce and their 3 boys, and we were regulars in her restaurant.
    My mother, Eileen Casella, has been gone now since 2003, but the five us, her children have this recipe and make it at all holidays. And it is in the family cookbook that will be passed to all the children.
    Just so you know, there is always a crack in the top. Ma said nothing is perfect, a crack is a crack, live with it. Sometimes, we would spoon daddy’s “marinated” cherries (yes, in a crock of alcohol); or peaches, black from being soaked in his homemade Italian wine. But we never, never, never put a crust in this cheesecake. We have lesser recipes for that.
    I don’t know what she would think of one of her prized recipes being so public on the Internet, I can only hope she would be proud.


    • phylliskirigin
      May 23, 2010 @ 08:33:38

      Hi Toni,
      Wow! Does this fit in the “Small World” category or not? This cheesecake stands head and shoulders above so many others, I can’t help but believe your mother would be proud to share it. I have received such praise for this cheesecake and people ask me where I got it. I always give the source as I did in the post on my blog. You must take joy in coming from a family of good cooks. Thanks for verifying that the crack is expected to be there.


  4. toms r.
    Aug 13, 2010 @ 00:29:09

    I’m so happy that I stumbled here through Googling. I never experienced eating italian cheesecake yet. But will probably try it this week. This looks yummy…. thanks for sharing the recipe! keep it up!


  5. Quinn Chann
    Aug 16, 2010 @ 11:58:19

    It looks very interesting. As I asked my wife to try this, it is better than the usual. I can’t wait to have it more. I love the sour cream with ricotta and some citrus zest that make this Italian cheesecake very delicious and outstanding.



    • phylliskirigin
      Aug 16, 2010 @ 16:13:17

      Thanks for your comment, Kenneth. I make this cheesecake all the time myself. It’s rich yet light and delicate. Hope you’ll visit my blog again. Sweetpaprika


  6. Nana Star
    Oct 15, 2011 @ 10:05:14

    I just made this cheesecake, yesterday.(October 14, 2011. I am taking it to our Gourmet Dinner Club dinner this evening. Normally, I am not a fan of lemon in cheesecake, but I think this one might change my mind. I will reply back after our club dinner with comments from my fellow dinners. I like the fact that I didn’t have to make a crust for this cake.


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