Location: Lower East Side (Ludlow Street and East Houston)
What We Ordered: Ginger, Hazelnut, and Graham Cracker
Sundresses flocking the streets, endless number of cherry blossom pictures on your Instagram feed, the smell of hot garbage in the subway -- this can only mean one thing; spring is finally here and it's prime ice cream season again! We made our first stop of the season to Il Laboratorio del Gelato, a popular spot in the Lower East Side.
It was a "no pants" kind of night, so naturally the place was packed with youths looking for a late Friday night snack. After sampling two flavors each, we decided to go with a cup of Ginger, Hazelnut, and Graham Cracker.
While we could have picked a better combination of flavors (Ginger and Graham Cracker aren't exactly the Harry Potter and Ron Weasley of flavors, although one is a ginger...), individually the flavors were on point. The texture was creamy and tasted fresh, on par with the finer gelato spots we've rated. Maybe it was the laboratory setting, but the flavors tasted exactly like they were supposed to, as if Walter White was in the back pouring test tubes with precision and getting the purity as close to 100% as possible, only with ice cream and not methamphetamine.
The flavor offerings were good and plenty at Il Laboratorio -- with two full counters of gelato ranging from Turkish Fig to White Sesame. It was almost overwhelming to choose what we wanted. We were limited to two samples each, making our flavor decision even more difficult and a contributing factor to how we ended up with our odd ice cream combination.
Il Laboratorio looks like a cross between a science lab and butcher shop. The place is completely decked out in stainless steel, from their machines to their countertops and even their seating. Servers wear all white clothing under their aprons and they have a take-a-number system for ordering. Factory like machines line the back walls, giving dessert connoisseurs an interesting look into the gelato-making process. Overall, it left something to be desired for the charming ice cream shops we remember from our childhoods. The sleek laboratory interior creates an impression that contradicts the joy ice cream is supposed to bring.
If you still have room in your stomach after a pastrami sandwich from Katz's Delicatessen, Il Laboratorio del Gelato is located just across the street, taunting you with their meticulously made flavors to try a spoon of their gelato. While they lack some of the traditional charm of other ice cream places we have visited, they make up for it with their wide flavor variety and rich gelato.