Lorenzo Franchetti leans over the counter in his espresso-scented gelato shop in the heart of Chelsea. “Gelato,” he says, “is like bread. It’s best eaten fresh.”
It’s an ethos that sets Gelato Giusto (164 Ninth Avenue, 212-647-1111) apart. “I come in at seven every morning and I make the day’s gelato,” Franchetti says. “I only have one batch freezer, so it takes awhile, but it’s worth it. By 10 a.m., all the gelato is ready.”
That day’s flavors — “Maybe sixteen, maybe ten, depending on what fruit is good and what I am in the mood for” — are scooped into cups and cones, served with or without wafers, or doused with a shot of espresso for a top-quality affogato.
The classics are all represented, along with a rotating cast of seasonal surprises. Right now, you can pick up a scoop of smooth peach and amaretto cookie, fresh basil, or cantaloupe-raspberry.
“Half of our flavors are sorbets,” Franchetti notes. “Good for vegans and vegetarians. We never use anything artificial, either. It’s just good fruit, good chocolate, quality ingredients. Very simple, but good.”
For Franchetti, Gelato Giusto is a passion project that took him from his native Milan all the way across the Atlantic.
“I was an insurance broker in Italy and I was bored every day. I had a friend who ran a gelato shop, and would go there every day to cheer myself up after work, because I love gelato, and then I thought, I should try to do that instead! I decided to change my life before it’s too late.”
After studying gelato-making and working in a restaurant, he moved to the U.S. and began the search for the perfect shop location. “It took almost a year to find it, but it was like a dream come true,” he says. Under the watchful eye of his friend and now business partner, Vittoria Bortolazzo, who runs her own gelato shop in Milan, Franchetti installed a five-gallon pasteurizer and gelato freezer that churns slower than one for ice cream, providing a smoother, richer texture.
With its bright, light interior, bouquets of peach roses, and perfect people-watching windows looking onto Ninth Avenue, it’s an ideal place to sit and contemplate the world. With a smile, Franchetti says, “It’s never too late to do what you love.”