The Gelato Craze

Summer is nearly behind us, but the gelato craze is still in full force within my five blocks. Here’s the scoop on three of my favorites:

GROM, 2165 Broadway at 76th st.

According to the website, “GROM is a high quality gelateria. The idea is to apply to the artisanal gelato production, a principle common to all the best restaurants in the world: the purchase of absolute top quality raw materials.”

The original one opened in Italy in 2003, and it has spread to Malibu, New York, Paris and Tokyo.    At first glance, it is quite pricey, but when you consider the quality and the purity of the ingredients, as well as the prices of its competitors, it seems to be a good value.  In addition, the “save the world” philosophy includes biodegradable materials and a focus on recycling.   To quote GROM “We are responsible. We love our world. We respect nature.”

All the fruit for the sorbet is organic, and the flavors are selected by season. Flavors change monthly.  It’s the taste that will keep you coming back. Incredible! If you love chocolate, I recommend the extra dark chocolate, which is technically a sorbet (it has no milk, but does have egg) and contains small pieces of dark chocolate.   If you prefer traditional gelato with milk, try the dark chocolate.  Also amazing.  No matter what flavor you choose, it will taste as pure as the main ingredient, each of which is selected from a specific region of the world.  For example, Vanilla from Madagascar, Espresso from Guatemala, Sfusato lemons from Amalfi and Pizzuta almonds from Sicily, just to name a few.

The stores are immaculate and consistent.  In addition to the one in my five blocks, I have visited the other ones in NYC at 233 Bleeker St and 1796 Broadway (between 58th and 59th st), as well as the one in the St. Germain des Pres section of Paris.  All have the exact same look, style and quality.   So at $5.25 for a small cup, it may not be a daily treat, but it is worth the splurge!  (And with Fall upon us, be sure to try the decadent hot chocolate, which returns to the menu in October or November).

SCREME, 2030 Broadway (between 69th and 70th Streets):

SCREME opened in my five blocks less than a year ago.  There is also a location in Times Square and one coming to west 94th st and Amsterdam this month.  The Broadway store is the tiniest I’ve ever seen, but nonetheless manages to draw a big crowd to try its plethora of unique flavors, which change daily.  You can taste as many as you like before choosing.    The employees encourage lots of tasting!

My favorite flavor is Chocolate Whiskey Brownie — yes, it contains whiskey.   The sorbet is wonderful.  Tastes just like the designated fruit. Lots of fun flavors too — Snickers, Chocolate Love, Apple Crumb cake, Cookies and Screme just to name a few.   Creative names abound, and work perfectly with the fun atmosphere.

To quote its website, “All SCREME products are made without any oil, preservatives, or food coloring.  SCREME uses only the finest natural ingredients. ”  Employees tout it as much healthier than ice cream.    All products are Kosher.   The price of a small cup is $5.00, but they only allow one flavor in a small (GROM allows two).  To get two flavors, you will need to upgrade to the medium ($7.00) or the large ($9.00).   The good news is you can satisfy your craving well past midnight.   It stays open much later than most places on the upper west side, with hours as late as 2:00am on weekends.

BOMBOLONI – 187 Columbus Ave between 68th and 69th st.  Although known for its small fried donuts — “bomboloni” — that contain many types of fillings, it has excellent gelato (or as they call it, Gelati).    Flavors remain classic and simple, rather than the SCREME approach, but all are delicious and made with pure ingredients. I’m sure at this point in this post, it will be no surprise that my favorite is the dark chocolate (cioccolato) made with valrhona chocolate, but I also recommend the stracciatella di menta, and any of the sorbet.  Plus, there are unique flavors, such as Fico Nero Di Missione (black mission fig) and several different nut flavors including hazelnut, almond, pistachio or pecan, depending on the day.

Upon walking inside, you will get a true taste of Italy.  Most everyone who works there is Italian and greet customers in Italian — Ciao, Buona Sera, etc, depending on the time of day.  Price is slightly lower than GROM and SCREME.  $4.90 for a small cup (two flavors allowed),  and it is a generous portion.    At BOMBOLONI, you can enjoy your gelati with coffee, tea, espresso and other drinks, or of course a bomboloni.  And, if you want to have a meal first, BOMBOLINI offers a small selection of fresh salads, panini, soups and pizzas.

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