Beet is one of the stranger new flavors at Laboratorio del Gelato.
Now that Laboratorio is in its new digs on Houston Street, steps away from Katz’s Deli, we can realize just how wonderful their oddest flavors can be. In the old place on Orchard, maybe there were plenty of off-the-wall selections, but we never knew, since only five or six flavors were available by the scoop each day.
The new Laboratorio del Gelato looks just like what the name suggests — a laboratory.
The place still looks like a chemical engineering pilot plant, but now the facility is fronted by a mile-long freezer case that can accommodate three dozen flavors at once. The profundity of the gastronomic experimentation going on is on display for all to see. And, in two weeks of sucking gelato (at $3.50 per small cup, which can hold small scoops of two flavors), Fork in the Road has thought up some pretty wild combos.
Tarragon pink pepper and Thai chili chocolate make a great pair. The former is mildly licorice-y, with the otherworldly burn that pink peppercorns — botanically unrelated to black or white peppercorns — confer. But that burn is minimal compared with the one produced by Thai bird chiles, which leave a lingering sizzle long after the rich chocolate flavor evaporates. Yet there’s a lingering sense that the chocolate has helped to mollify the chiles.
Tarragon pink pepper and Thai chili chocolate make great bedfellows.
Pomegranate and pistachio make an agreeable combination.
Pomegranate sorbet and pistachio turned out to be good choices, too, with the astringency of the fruit making a nice contrast to the mellow nut, but, of the dozen gelatos and sorbets tried, only one proved awful. Cheddar-cheese-flavored gelato was salty and sour, with a bad aftertaste — not really all that much like cheese. Would other cheese flavors work? A friend said she thought blue-cheese ice cream might be good, and mascarpone is already a shoo-in for a good flavor. It’s often the choice of pastry chefs for an accompanying scoop.
Really, you can’t blame Laboratorio for having a bad flavor or two. It’s all part of the experimental process.
Laboratorio del Gelato
188 Ludlow Street
The sweet potato (top) was unexpectedly excellent, but the cheddar cheese (bottom) bit.
Next: The published list of flavors …
Lovers of French regional fare will instantly recognize the rightness of prune armagnac.
choc amaretto crunch
chocolate choc chip
chocolate, milk malt
chocolate, Thai chili
dulce de leche
fig, black mission
fig, fresh white
fig, fresh black
fig, fresh brown turkey
sesame, toasted white
tarragon pink pepper
vanilla chocolate chip
lime fresh mint
Sour cream may be overly subtle.