A waffle cone costs you no more than a regular cone at Eataly’s Gelateria.
The creamy imported-from-Italy treat called gelato has taken the city by ice storm over the last decade, and even old-guard Italian ice palaces have started selling it. This cousin of ice cream (which sports a lower fat content) is often lighter, smoother, and more rich tasting, with a palette of flavors more refined. Here are our 10 favorite places to get it.
Note that for this list we’ve considered only retail gelaterias, and not restaurants that make and serve it as part of their regular menus. We’ve also not included many fine Italian bakeries that specialize in ices, rather than true gelati.
10. Gelateria at Eataly – Made from local organic milk and premium nuts imported from Italy, Eataly’s gelato tends to be denser and served colder than other brands – which could be a boon if you like those qualities. Named after the sort of fresh mozzarella that Italian-American immigrants transplanted here, fiore di latte (show above) is the best flavor, bursting with essence de cow and no extraneous vanilla. Plain milk has never tasted better! 200 Fifth Avenue, 646-398-5100
9. Grom – Though I feel this gelato chain from Milano is oft overrated, their products are wildly popular, especially among Upper West Siders. I’ll admit, the espresso – made from organic coffee beans trucked in from Guatemala – is wildly good, and will prop your peepers open as if with toothpicks. 2165 Broadway, 212-362-1837
8. Via Quadronno – This darling little Italian café goes its own way with gelati fabrication, creating a product midway between old-fashioned Brooklyn-style milk ices and the higher-fat concoctions called gelato today. The peach (shown above) is without reproach: chunky with fresh fruit and exactly as it needs to be to put the ripe flavor across. 25 East 73rd Street, 212-650-9880
7. Love Gelato – This local fave has decreased the number of its gelati offerings in favor of selling other treats and snacks, but those that remain are solid, and you couldn’t eat a cone on a nicer corner of the Village. That said, the primary appeal might just be the Jesus-big dose of espresso and generous scoop of vanilla that goes into their affogato, above. 167 Seventh Avenue South, 212-929-2870
6. Ciao Bella — Clean fruit flavors are the forte of this comparative gelato old-timer, presented in a smooth product served at exactly the right temperature in a clubby setting, with benches scattered around outside for al fresco licking. A modest number of gelati with mix-ins like brownies and cake are also offered, which is not a bad thing. 285 Mott Street, 212-431-3591
5. Popbar – What a brilliant idea! Forgo cups and drippy cones and form the gelato (mainly conventional flavors) on a stick. And, at your request, thereto adhere nuts, chocolate, or other coatings. I like the plain uncoated best, especially the chocolate, which will remind you of the Fudgsicles you loved as a kid – only better. 5 Carmine Street, 212-255-4874
4. Savarese – This venerable bakery slings very special Italian ices and gelati, but it is the latter in which their innovative spirit shines: via a wonderful transformation of the sainted cannoli into cannoli gelato, shot with bits of candied fruit and chocolate. 5924 New Utrecht Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-438-7770
3. Amorino – Out of the gate, this Greenwich Village newcomer put me off by a premises too sumptuous and an attitude too pretentious. But I were quickly impressed by the number of its chocolate gelato choices. Cioccolato amorino shown below in a cone turned into a gelato flower with a hazelnut-flavored center. 60 University Place, 212-253-5599
2. L’Arte del Gelato – This place – with branches on Bleecker, the High Line, and Chelsea Market, and Lincoln Center, has long since won the hearts of locals and tourists alike, with gelati of perfect density and lightness. Once again, salty, nutty, and chocolaty flavors predominate, but logical-courses-long-unexplored are available and often delicious, such as olive oil, crema zabaione, and even (!) licorice. Strawberry is also ass-grabbingly good. Pistachio shown above. 75 Ninth Avenue, 212-366-0570
1. Laboratorio del Gelato – This really is a laboratory of gelato research and the fashion forward flavors (among a larger than usual list) make visiting daily an imperative in the summer months. Step inside the bunker-like interior and find yourself in gelato heaven. Shown above: tarragon on top, cinnamon on bottom. Yes, they’re very, very good. One day they had beet. 188 Ludlow Street, 212-343-9922
Scooping the tarragon
Beet on top, mint chocolate chip on bottom
Still not suffering from brain freeze? Check out Tejal Rao’s Our 10 Best Ice Creams