After our awesome meal at the Spotted Pig, Carolyn, Giorgio and I headed to Bleecker Street for a sampling of gelato from the three gelaterie on the block. We first stopped at L’Arte Del Gelato (actually located at 75 Seventh Avenue South). L’Arte Del Gelato was started by two friends both from Italy who met while working as diamond cutters in New York. They take pride in their Italian roots by providing artisanal gelato like they were used to back home. The ladies working behind the counter were very hospitable and helpful. They let us try numerous flavors of gelato. My first sample was the chocolate with chili. The chili flavor was subtle and packed some heat as it went down my throat. My second sample was the olive oil gelato. This was awesome, but in small doses. I think it would have been too much to eat a whole cup of this gelato. The olive oil gelato had a really nice taste and mouth feel. The fat from the olive oil coated the roof of my mouth. This flavor was also very aromatic. I settled on two flavors that to me represent Sicily, cassata and pistachio. These two flavors played well off of each other. The pistachio was nutty with a subtle saltiness. The fat from the nuts and cream gentle coated the roof of my mouth, similar to what the olive oil did. The creaminess and touch of alcohol in the cassata were intoxicatingly good. I am also a big fan of candied fruit. The overly sweet bits and pieces of fruit make me a happy man. L’Arte Del Gelato definitely knows what they are doing when it comes to gelato.
The second gelateria we visited was Cones (located at 272 Bleecker Street). This shop is owned by two Argentinean brothers. To me the product here is more closely related to what we know here in America as ice cream. There sampling policy is a bit bizarre. You are only allowed to sample two flavors. Also if you want to sample the flavor that has Johnnie Walker Black in it, you have to cough up $1. I sampled the corn (that’s right, corn. According to Cones, it’s Brazil’s favorite flavor.) and dulce de leche. The dulce de leche was good, but I need to have a full cup of corn. So I ended up with a cup of corn gelato with cinnamon sprinkled on top. If you like corn than this is heaven in a cup. I personally love sweet corn. And boy was it perfect. The smoky sweetness of the cinnamon definitely helped to accentuate the sweet corn flavor. If you ever go to Cones, you must try the corn!
Our last stop was GROM: Il Gelato Come Una Volta (located at 233 Bleecker Street at Carmine Street). Now I’m usually not the person to complain about the service or the food of an establishment even when both are lacking, but sometimes you have to let it off your chest. And to be honest, I had a great experience at the GROM I went to in Firenze, Italy. But New York City isn’t Firenze. So I should have known something was up when we entered through the front door, walked up to the register and the placard that read “Line Starts Here” was not facing the customers but the employees. Seeing that a few other customers were lined in front of the glass counter, we moseyed on up behind them. After these customers were finished placing their orders and were paying the young man behind the counter made a comment that turned me off to my experience. Instead of asking, “May I help you?” he said, “You know the line starts there?” pointing to the spot with the backward placard. I bit my tongue. I only said that we were there but followed the customers in front of us up to the counter. In a snide tone of voice, he said, “But I’ll help you anyway.” Again I bit my tongue. My friend, Giorgio, ordered a granita di café with whipped cream. Giorgio asked if the young man could put the whipped cream on the both the bottom and top of the granita like they do in Italy. The young man looked at him like he asked him to commit a crime. I ordered the same thing the same way. I asked the young man if he ever heard of serving a granita like this. He said that he did not. I said that since GROM is a gelato company based out of Italy that is surprising that they do not do things as they are down in Italy. For goodness sake, Rita’s Italian Ice makes their Gelati in a similar fashion, with the custard on the top and bottom of the ice. At this point, I was not in a good mood, I just wanted to eat my granita and be on my way. As good as the granita di café was, the service left a bitter taste in my mouth. I would have preferred “the gelato as it once was” (the translation of “il gelato come una volta”) without the 21st Century attitude. After we finished, we hailed a cab and headed toward the ferry and home. And so our day’s New York City Culinary Adventure was concluded.
NOTE: My pick for best gelato of the three we sampled was L’Arte Del Gelato. Besides offering really good products and receiving excellent customer service, the flavor and quality of the gelato was spot on. The gelato tasted fresh and creamy. It wasn’t flat and dull. Although I do have to give some props to the corn gelato because that was unexpectedly delicious.
Go out and do your own Giro di Gelato on Bleecker Street and let me know what your favorite was.
Living to eat,