Best Ice Cream in NYC: L’Arte Del Gelato, Il Laboratorio del Gelato and more!
We eat lots of ice cream all throughout the year–at least one bowl each day, in fact–so summer's not an especially frozen-treatish time for us. But there have been a bunch of new NYC ice cream parlors and gelato stands opening up recently, so as we head into high summer, we figured it was as good a time as any to run around town and try as many scoops as we can. Here, then, is a by-no-means exhaustive survey of the NYC's best ice cream parlors today. And, inevitably, some disappointments.
Il Laboratorio del Gelato
The Lower East Side's Il Laboratorio de Gelato has been around for almost a decade now, but last winter gelato genius Jon Snyder and crew moved the whole operation a few blocks up Orchard Street to much larger digs on Houston… or, we should say, a much larger "laboratory"; the customer area remains defiantly sparse. Anyway, with more than 200 varieties in rotation, you never know exactly what to expect when you show up at Il Labatorio del Gelato, except that, whatever you choose, your gelato will taste exactly like the thing it's supposed to taste like (the Pumpkin and Maple double scoop is a personal favorite), only colder, a bit sweeter, and more creamy. Superb. On the corner of Houston and Ludlow Streets. More info here.
In May of 2007 this exquisite Italian import landed on the Upper West Side and somehow lived up to the thunderous hype with which it was preceded. Four-plus years and two additional stores later, Grom continues to wow us every time, with the depth and complexity of its flavors (the Crema de Grom with those big biscuity chunks, and the Stracciatella with dark chocolate chips, are our "usuals") as well as the insanely silky texture. And for something a little different, try the Almond Granita, which is rich, sophisticated, and unbelievably refreshing. On Broadway near 76th; on Broadway and 58th; on the corner of Carmine and Bleecker. More info here.
L'Arte Del Gelato
Just as good and maybe even a little bit better than Grom is the ice cream at L'Arte Del Gelato, a chainlet which began life in the Chelsea Market and has since expanded to the West Village and, seasonally, a kiosk in Lincoln Center. The flavors here are fresh and dead-on (the Dulce de Leche… the Panna Cotta… the Coffee… the Raspberry… really, everything we've ever tried, and we've tried a LOT), the texture smooth and creamy. On Seventh Avenue South and Barrow, in the Chelsea Market. More info here.
We've only been to this Carmine Street newcomer once, but are already totally smitten with Sophia Brittan's soft-serve ice cream, especially the heavenly Salted Caramel, though the Chocolate's pretty spectacular as well. Brittan's secret? Goat's milk, which gives her treats a lovely little tang. There are several interesting toppings (strawberry rhubarb sauce, mulberries, pistachios, Liddabit honeycomb candy) which we're eager to try, but even straight-up, Victory Garden gives nearby Grom a run for its after-a-movie-at-the-IFC money. On Carmine just south of Bleecker. More info here.
This newish sister spot to Chef Emma Hurst's next-door Sorella scoops up an intriguing combination of chunky "American-style" ice cream (think: Ben & Jerry's) and that creamy, explosively-flavored goodness of the best Italian gelato. The results are a bit mixed–the Cinnamon Toast was just fine; the Bee Named Elvis, in which crunchy peanut nougat and banana caramel are mixed into sweet honey gelato, was fantastic–but if you're in the area and want a treat, Stellina is definitely worth a try or two. Oh, and they also serve better-than-decent salads and sandwiches at their retro-cool counter. On the west side of Allen Street, just south of Delancey. More info here.
We had a high hopes for Love Gelato, with its cute logo, enthusiastic name, and genuine Italian heritage. Diving right in one hot afternoon (which, frankly, wasn't much cooler inside the under-AC'd little shop), we ordered a pair of double-scoop cups: a Vaghezza (mascarpone with candied peanuts) and Pistachio, and a Chocolate Fondant and Creme de Caramel. But though the ice cream at Love Gelato hits all the right “sweet” and “cold” and “thick” and “creamy” spots, it but doesn’t really have the depth, or genuineness, of flavor that some its proximate competitors can bring, such as L’Arte del Gelato, or Grom. On Seventh Avenue South, near Perry Street. More info here.
The biggest ice-cream hit of the summer has to be Amorino, a culty-favorite in Europe that just opened its doors in the heart of NYU territory and has been packed day and night (and well into the night!) ever since. They'll be a line when you show up at this comfortable, efficiently-run parlor, and the price might gives you pause ($8 for a large), but there are two reasons why you'll want to try Amorino, and why you'll want to keep coming back: the gelato here is definitely upper-tier, rich in flavor and soft in texture (favorites of ours include the super-dark Ecuadorean Chocolate; the intense Brazilian Coffee; the creamy Speculoos, studded with biscuits; and the biggest must-try, the Caramel with Salted Butter), AND you can get as many different flavors as you want in every sized cup and cone. If you order five in a cone, they'll shape it like a flower! Very user-friendly. On the corner of University Place and East 10th Street. More info here.
About every six months or so we try a scoop or two of the "artisan ice cream" at the Van Leeuwan Truck, and every time we remember why we don't eat here more often. Van Leeuwan gets raves, but we find it flavorless. And the texture, because they don't use milk solids, lacks feeling. If ice cream can be flat, then that's Van Leeuwan. But recently Van Leeuwan opened a spacious, homey parlor in the East Village, and so we thought we'd give the stuff yet another try. No luck; same flatty deal. For fans only. On 7th Street between Second and First Avenues, and in Brooklyn, and in the truck. More info here.
Admittedly we've only been once to La Cremeria, a tiny new gelato spot with an interesting selection (super-nutty Monella with chocolate and cherries! super dark Nerone! super0-crazy Amarcord with mascarpone cheese and chocolate fondue!), an obvious talent for creating intense flavors, and excellent typography. Open about a two months now on Mulberry Street, right on the Little Italy/Nolita border, the molta italiana Cremeria (owner Martino Caciagli just got here from Carpi), is definitely worth a stop if you're wandering the area. On Mulberry Street, just north of Broome. More info (sort of) here.
An international chain based in Italy, the closet-like Screme landed on the Upper West Side last year and has been drawing crowds ever since. Conveniently situated a block from the neighborhood's biggest movie theater (there's a second parlor up on 94th, and a kiosk down in Verdi Square), Screme offers a new menu of freshly-made flavors just about every day, both traditional and zany–one recent line up: PopCorn, Laffy Taffy, Mint Chip, Yogurt, Nutella Toffee, Chocolate Love, Biscotti, Cookies and Screme, Vanilla, and Capt'n Crunch–and everything we've ever tried has been, if not spectacular, certainly satisfying. Like the Raspberry Chocolate, pictured below, which we had just last night and may be our all-time Screme favorite. On Broadway between 69th and 70th Streets. More info here.
Posted in NYC Dining, Other Neighborhoods, Westside | Tagged Amorino • Best ice cream in NYC • e Del Gelato • Grom • Il Laboratorio del Gelato • L'Art • La Cremeria • Love Gelato • Screme • Stellina • Van Leeuwan • Victory Garden