This summer ice cream is out and gelato is in. Just like the growing preference for dark chocolate over milk, America is becoming increasingly sophisticated when it comes to frozen desserts.
Gelato and ice cream are both cold and served in scoops, but to the experts their similarities end there. Gelato is made with milk instead of cream, and has much less air whipped into it than ice cream, resulting in a more dense, concentrated flavor. Gelato’s counterpart, sorbetto, is made without milk and usually comes in various fruit flavors. Both are “healthier” options than regular ice cream, especially sorbetto which is fat free.
I have to admit that when I first heard of gelato in Italy several years ago I thought it was boring. I looked at it in terms of ice cream, and thought that single flavors like Chocolate and Strawberry (which gelato usually came in back then) could never compare to flavors like Cookies and Cream or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. My opinion of gelato remained unchanged until recently when I had the fortune of trying the Dark Chocolate gelato from Capogiro Gelato in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I am now a complete convert, and would choose gelato over traditional ice cream today without thinking twice. Unfortunately for me Capogiro Gelato is not close to home, so I have been forced to find a local supply to get me through the summer.
One of the most popular gelato shops in New York City is il Laboratorio del Gelato in the Lower East Side. I have become very familiar with their flavors since we sell their gelato and sorbetto at the Polka Dot Cake Studio where I work. In the past few weeks we sell out of gelato almost as soon as we get it, even with its relatively high prices ($3.75 per scoop.) My favorite flavor is the Pear sorbetto, which is so light and refreshing I challenge you to find a better dessert on a hot day. I also love the Hazlenut and Cinnamon gelato, which are both very creamy and filled with flavor. For a more complex choice, I would recommend the Maple Walnut or Green Apple (you can actually see large chunks of apple mixed in.)
While Il Laboratorio is an excellent choice in New York City, I still have to give my vote for best gelato in America to Capogiro. Their flavors and presentation are unbeatable, and the owners are two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Capogiro does ship their gelato, but il Laboratorio is so good I think it hold me over until the next time I’m in Philadelphia.
il Laboratorio del Gelato
95 Orchard St.
(between Broome & Delancey Sts)
New York, NY 10002