Location: East Village (2nd Avenue b/t St. Marks and E 9th Street)
What We Ordered: A la Mode and Ferrero
Having gone on several ice cream excursions in the buttoned-up Midtown area, we decided to let our hair down and made our way to the ever vibrant East Village. Although tempted to get matching tattoos and 5 shots of anything for $10 at Continental, we walked through St. Mark's Place unscathed and arrived at Fresco Gelateria, a frozen dessert oasis on 2nd Avenue.
Hannah ordered A la Mode (apple pie) and Jon indulged his chocolate obsession with Ferrero. The A la Mode included chunks of delicious apple, which Jon embarrassingly mistook for jelly until Hannah kindly enlightened him. In addition to the bits of apple, sprinkles of pecans and other nuts were added to accentuate an authentic apple pie taste.
The Ferrero had a strong hazelnut flavor and was so rich it could have easily been mistaken for Nutella straight out of the jar, which is also Jon’s preferred method of consuming Nutella. The comfort of A la Mode combined with the smoothness of Ferrero was like being bundled up in blankets next to the fireplace while listening to Kenny G’s holiday album on a snowy Christmas morning.
Fresco had one of the fewest flavor availabilities of the gelato shops we’ve visited, having only about a dozen in the counter display. Although our choices were limited, Fresco makes their flavors daily and offered a wide variety, ranging from Strawberry to Goat Cheese to Fig. The blend of traditional and artisanal flavors on their menu provided something for everyone, from the casual consumer to the flavor adventurer. We admired Fresco's commitment to experimenting with flavors without trying too hard to be cool. They are the Will Smith of gelato establishments.
Even though Fresco is located right off the heart of St. Mark’s, it was not overly crowded as we easily found seating among NYU students and East Village hipsters. The gelato flavor names were adorably displayed in Scrabble tiles in the ice cream counter. Our server was patient and non-judgmental as we tried our usual score of flavors. The staff's lighthearted nature can be seen from their sidewalk sign outside.
The off-white colored furniture with light wooden walls and countertops gave off a peaceful and sophisticated atmosphere that can sometimes be hard to find in the buzzing East Village. It also helps that Fresco doubles as a cafe, incorporating a cozy coffeeshop vibe. The kitchen was hidden behind a secret wooden door that was so well concealed it startled Jon when the wall opened up next to him.
While always skeptical of places that don’t focus solely on one thing, Fresco won us over with their serene cafe ambience and freshly made gelato. The serving was generous and no gelato was left behind. Having been to Fresco on multiple occasions, with each other and separately, we can confidently say it’s the frozen dessert place frozen dessert experts visit when they’re not reviewing frozen desserts.