il laboratorio del gelato

Question of the Day: What’s the difference between ice cream and gelato?

It comes down to three main things–fat content, air, and temperature.

Ice cream is made with cream (who would have thunk, huh?) and has to have at least a 10% fat content while gelato is made with mostly milk. Gelato also happens to use less egg yolks than ice cream, if they’re included at all. Your guess my question above might’ve been something about the difference in texture between the two, and that comes into play with air. Ice cream is churned fast, letting in more air and creating volume, while gelato is slow-churned, making it denser. Then there’s the last part about temperature. Ice cream is served around 10 degrees Fahrenheit and gelato is served around 15 degrees warmer than that. If ice cream was served warmer, it would melt too quickly. If gelato was served colder, it would be too hard. Some say that gelato is more flavorful because the flavoring ingredients can shine through more easily due to the lower amount of fat. Lesson over!

The owner of il laboratorio del gelato developed a passion for gelato when visiting Italy and created this place as one that puts its own spin on the Italian method of making ice cream. What makes it really interesting, I think, is that it really functions and looks like a lab. Chefs and caterers are welcome to come in and develop flavors, and it’s a large, open, sparse space with clean, silver surfaces everywhere. You can even see all the machinery in the back, work section, creating the small batch ice cream.

They have almost 200 flavors of gelato and sorbet here and it just depends when you go what you’ll be able to pick from. There could be amaretto crunch, banana chocolate chip, black currant, cashew, dulce de leche, early grey, fig, ginger, guinness, licorice, maple walnut, olive oil, pear, rose petal, sweet potato, toasted almond, vanilla rum, wasabi… For the sorbet, there might be fuji apple, champagne, kalamansi, lemon verbena, mango, passion fruit, watermelon… This is outside the box ice cream.IMG_4894

While you might get overexcited by the varied selection, know that there is a maximum 2 sample rule. Kind of crushing when there are so many mouthwatering flavors, huh? Maybe you can convince them to give you some more if it’s not too busy. I originally wanted the chestnut flavor since that was a bit unusual, but there wasn’t enough in the bin for a full scoop, so on the next. Don’t worry, there was plenty else that would make me happy!

Order sizes are based on the number of scoops, not size of the cup (small, medium, large, etc.) like most other places. My strategy for ordering ice cream when I’m getting more than one scoop is to get something on the lighter, tangier side and then something that’s more rich so that they balance each other nicely. This time around I got the blackberry and the kahlua chocolate. The container they serve the ice cream in (one Yelper compared it to a bathtub) plus how the perfectly round scoops plus the rich colors of the ice cream make for one darn good photo if I do say so myself.

At around $5 for the small, two scoop size, this isn’t bargain-priced gelato, but it is darn good. Warmer weather is upon us all, so it’s getting to be the perfect time to get a treat at il laboratorio del gelato. Heck, it’s always the perfect time for at treat. To the gelato!

Blackberry and kahlua chocolate

188 Ludlow St
New York, NY 10002

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