L’Arte del Gelato occupied a space in the West Village for seven years, serving cups of soft, pliable gelato festooned with tiny trowels to crowds that packed the tiny address each warm night. But in April, the pair of proprietors of the business parted ways, and in June, Salvatore Potestio, the partner who maintained ownership, quietly changed the sign overnight, transforming L’Arte into Dolce Gelateria. He’s also making some changes to the concept.
The biggest change comes in the flavor focus. “Some recipes are the same, but my kids were born in America, and I’m trying to make gelato in American flavors,” Potestio explains. He’s already rolled out a butter pecan–“it’s much lighter than ice cream, and you can taste the pecan much better,” he says–and he’s preparing Oreo and Almond Joy renditions in his new Ridgewood, New Jersey, ice cream laboratory.
He built that laboratory in a sealed-off garage so he could experiment with new ingredients and flavor combinations. Each new variety of gelato is treated to an intense trial-and-error process before it hits the pans in the shop. And each new offering is built on the base of the traditional Italian recipe that served L’Arte for many years. “My ex-partner did a lot of research in Italy, and I learned from him for seven years,” says Potestio. “I’m bringing a little fantasy and creativity to it.”
Traditionalists will be pleased to know, however, that Potestia kept many of the classic Italian flavors, including stracciatella and pistachio. He’s also adding family touches. He’s making an olive oil flavor, for instance, using olive oil imported from the Potestia olive grove in Italy.
The spot’s name draws on his roots, too: “Dolce” means sweet in Italian, but it’s also Potestia’s mother’s maiden name. And speaking of the family business, the owner hopes to some day turn over the gelateria to his children, who are both in college. “I’m looking for the help of my kids,” he says. “Maybe the next generation can open more stores.” He adds that after changes of the last couple of months, he can’t even think about expanding. “But maybe next year I’ll feel differently.”
Hit the next page for more photos of Dolce Gelateria space and treats.