When the weather is this revolting, only two things motivate our dessert preferences: how cold the dessert itself is, and how much air-conditioning we can bask in while we make our purchase. For this reason, Il Laboratorio del Gelato has become our go-to in the last week or so.
Of course, climate is only a small part of the appeal of Il Lab’s gelato. The shop’s constant flavor experimentation yields some wild, wacky, and very often fortuitous results, and as such, the three dozen options contained in its long display case offer something for almost everyone.
On our last visit, this meant a combination of mango and plum sorbets. And if those flavors aren’t as racy as, say, tarragon pink pepper or cheddar cheese, they’re plenty flamboyant where quality is concerned. The mango is more vibrant than many actual mangoes we’ve eaten, while the plum counterbalances it with less opulent but equally compelling sweetness. As creamy as their dairy brethren, and refreshing as a cold shower, they’re both more or less the only things we feel like eating when it gets this hot.
And while Il Lab’s bunker-like ambiance and often grim-faced counter staff don’t exactly make the place as cheerful as one would expect a gelato shop to be, the air-conditioning is fantastic, and the concrete window seats are perfect for enjoying every last spoonful as slowly as possible.
Il Laboratorio del Gelato
188 Ludlow Street
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 8, 2011