Tour del Gelato (and Indie Spotlight) — il laboratorio del gelato

by Valerie on September 16, 2008 · 5 comments

This past weekend I visited Laboratorio del Gelato, located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. I picked this gelateria as my first Tour del Gelato post because many people don’t realize there is a Laboratorio cafe. Laboratorio is more of a wholesaler to restaurants but there is the tiny cafe you see in the picture. And from their website, it’s not necessarily obvious that anyone can get a taste anytime. Well, almost anytime. They close at 7pm as far as I remember.

The story of the Laboratorio can be summarized as follows: 19 year-old boy
starts gelato business and then sells it, and several years later decides to start a second, and diferent, gelato business.

Jon Snyder initially founded Ciao Bella Gelato in the early 1980s, back when there really was very little gelato in the U.S. At some point I will do a review of a Ciao Bella Gelato cafe, but for today, let’s focus on Jon Snyder’s second gelato life, so to speak — the Laboratorio. After selling Ciao Bella at age twenty, he went to college and got an M.B.A. and then worked as an equities trader for two banks.

And then, after 9/11, Jon Snyder decided to
reinvest in Manhattan by opening a new gelato store. He specifically wanted to be in Lower Manhattan, and has been at his 95 Orchard Street location since then, next door to the city’s Tenement Museum. The picture to the right shows the Laboratorio awning and the tenement museum next to it. That museum deserves a blog post all of its own sometime — it’s truly a wonderful place to learn about the history of immigration and New York.

Anyways, but let’s talk gelato. Laboratorio, as its name implies, takes gelato flavors to novel combinations. Aside from the traditional flavors, there is a constant rotation of creative flavors. For example, on Saturday, there were two kinds of fig gelato (Black Mission Fig and White Fig) and honey lavender gelato, and several fruit sorbets.

I did try the Honey Lavender — somehow, despite being heavy on the honey, the lavender was still overpowering. I ended up settling for Chocolate Chocolate Chip — which was rich and creamy and very traditional gelato-like — and Black Mission Fig, which was a little less gelato like in texture, but just as yummy. My husband had the White Fig, which we agreed was not as figgy as the Black Mission Fig, and Dulce de Leche, which was a really wonderful caramel with just the right touch of a salty note.

If you are in New York, be sure to stop by the Laboratorio at 95 Orchard Street, near the Delancey Street F train stop.

I leave you below with our two cups of gelato. My black fig (with chocolate chocolate chip underneath) is the back cup.

Pictures by City Girl (and husband of City Girl), except for the Tour del Gelato badge, which is from Ms. Adventures in Italy’s Blog.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy September 16, 2008 at 1:32 pm

Excellent TdG stop! I’ve heard about this place but nothing in-depth! Thanks for taking us on the tour! :) It’s been added to the list.


2 Karley September 16, 2008 at 6:26 pm

The black fig with chocolate chip sounds unique and delicious!


3 Pink Heels September 16, 2008 at 6:47 pm

Have you caught the Lifetime movie on Coco Chanel? I NEVER watch Lifetime but the idea of learning more about Chanel, drew me in.


4 Christina September 17, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Hey, that sounds awesome! I sometimes wish I was in New York. But at least there’s a great place in Clarendon too. Boccato Gelato opened in the spring next to the campesina on Wilson Blvd. The next time you’re DC-way, give me a call and we’ll swing by for a scoop or two. You can even add it to your TdG!


5 mybellavita September 18, 2008 at 9:09 am

YUM. I think the fig sounds great, too!


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