Sunday, February 3, 2008

Il Laboratorio del Gelato

Did you ever notice that grabbing dessert at a local gelateria on the streets of Rome somehow tastes better than even the best gelato back home? Is it just the exotic locale? Something in the water? The different processing of dairy products? It's just not the same over here. The good news: it's still pretty darn good.

After having my mind blown by dessert at Market Table, as I mentioned in a previous blog, I inquired as to the provenance of the dense and intense gelato on my plate. Turns out the restaurant purchased it from Il Laboratorio del Gelato on Orchard Street. So today, 95 Orchard Street (between Broome and Delancey) was on my itinerary. I was not disappointed.

The Laboratorio in question is a tiny sliver of a space, serving up huge flavors. As the friendly scooper on duty informed me, the vast majority of the company's business is devoted to supplying product for restaurants and high-end grocery stores. Still, the walk-in experience was quite pleasant.The usual vanilla and chocolate flavors were on hand, as were cinnamon and the classic hazelnut gelato. A bit more unusual were the espresso (combined by hand with oreo crumbs) mascarpone (luxuriously creamy) and buttermilk (refreshingly tangy). For something truly unique, I tried the rose petal, as well as the utterly arresting lavender and honey flavor.

My favorite taste of the day was without doubt the pistachio. It was so rich and intensely nutty that I must acknowledge it to be the best pistachio gelato I have ever tasted. And that alone was worth the trip.

Everybody knows that when in Rome, it's best to do as the Romans do. But even when I'm back home, I still try to stick with the Romans.

5 comments:

johna said...

thanks Mr. F -- I'll check it out. I consider pistachio the benchmark flavor of a gelateria.

Often, all you have to do is look at the pistachio ice cream to know if the place is any good. If it's bright green, forget it -- it's nasty and fake. But if it's a dull, brownish green, it's probably natural and genuinely tastes of pistachios.

By the way, what -- if anything -- makes gelato different from regular ice cream? your readers want to know...

leanboy2000 said...

If the coffee dude is a "barista", what is the term for one who serves gelato? Gelista? Gelatrix?

Co-conspirator said...

As a silent go-along on the Laboratorio del Gelato expedition, I can vouch for the pistachio as the best I've very had. But don't stint on the chocolate _ immensely rich and intense, or the vanilla – like opening one of those glass tubes with a vanilla bean in it. My fellow silent co-consipirator, Robert, advises being careful how you mix flavors in the three-scoop medium cup. If you put chocolate in there it risks wiping out subtler flavors. If you are chocolate-crazed zombie like me, this is not an issue.

Tai said...

Growing up, my mother often indulged her love of pistachio nuts and pistachio ice cream (there was no gelato in Los Angeles in those days). Only years later did I learn that pistachio nuts are not actually bright red. And after reading this smooth and creamy narrative, I'm wondering...will FedEx deliver gelato?

Anonymous said...

Il laboratorio does deliver ice cream, its pricey, but details are on their website....