Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dessert | il laboratorio del gelato

After a big lunch at Katz's Delicatessen (post to follow), I was really full, until I saw that il laboratorio del gelato was right across the street. As my uncle Alan always says, there's always room in my second stomach for ice cream (in this case, gelato). I recall reading an article in Edible Manhattan about il laboratorio, about how "over 90 percent of il laboratorio’s gallons go to chefs, and they want deliveries well before dinner service starts at 5 PM," and as a result, Jon Snyder, the proprietor of the enterprise, decided to move from his small 550-square-foot shop to its current location across from Katz's Delicatessen (a 2,750-square-foot operation).

Frozen churning (gelato, ice cream, sorbet, and the like) has been in Mr. Snyder's family for three generations already, which is how was able to gain insight and experience in the industry. He was actually the man who started Ciao Bella, the now nationwide supermarket gelato and sorbet pint maker, back in the 80s when it was originally aimed toward restaurant chefs (as il laboratorio is doing today). Mr. Snyder sold the business, pursued an MBA, and worked a bit in finance before he decided to come full circle back to the churning business. il laboratorio has certainly come a long way since then. Mr. Snyder still runs majority of the operations, just in a bigger, more fitting space.

I love the neon-powered signage at il laboratorio. It really emphasizes the laboratorio/laboratory in its name.

As you can see, the set-up of the entire gelateria is very atypical--sterile and spotless--which is not like the classic Italian gelaterias and cafés. The whiteness of it all implies a determined, sole task at hand: to have the capacity lots and lots of gelato, sorbet, and ice cream in numerous flavors and combinations. Kind of a no-bullshit policy. Just fresh frozen delights made daily (traditional and unconventional in flavors).

On the left, I decided on the fresh black mission fig gelato, and on the right, Marcus went with licorice gelato. I love how fruit seeds (those found in berries, kiwi, and of course, figs) feel against my teeth, so the use of fresh black mission figs (the classic type of fig: blackish-purple skin and pink colored flesh) made the gelato not only fig-flavored, but with actual figs in it! I was a bit hesitant with Marcus's choice of the licorice flavor, thinking it could be executed very well or very poorly, but after having tasted it, it had a very nice flavor to it (not as overpowering as I've experienced with actual licorice candy--which turns me off from it in general), if you're a licorice lover. Marcus enjoyed it very much, saying it reminded him of licorice ice cream he had several years ago.

Findings: Overall, I think this is a great gelato place, especially if you're adventurous and/or looking to try something new (here's the laundry list of flavors offered--over 200 currently!). As over 90% of il laboratorio's sales go to restaurant kitchens, you know you'll be getting quality gelato here! As Mr. Snyder says on il laboratorio's website, "our small retail cafe offers an expansive window into an open kitchen, where our frozen desserts are hand-made in small batches, ensuring the highest quality. We source the world over for flavors of purity and excellence, when possible sourcing locally and organically." I really admire the gelateria's use of fresh ingredients and the philosophy behind it all. It's nice to know that the owner is ensuring all of these things for his customers, his clients, and the resulting clients onward. This is the perfect place to take friends, family, and out-of-town guests on a warm day!

Price point: small cup at $3.25; medium cup at $4.50.

--December 4, 2010

il laboratorio del gelato
188 Ludlow Street
New York, NY 10002


  1. nicely written and much appreciated.

    -jon snyder

  2. Thanks for your kind words, Jon! I look forward to more frequent visits to il laboratorio!



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