This afternoon, B and I visited Eataly, Mario Batali’s sprawling indoor Italian food market with stalls for cured meats, fresh pasta, all kinds of cheese and coffee, breads, intricate patisserie confections, pop-up restaurants, positively pornographic tableaux of basil leaves and cherry tomatoes — and, of course, gelato. What we came for. And I had to admit we arrived a little spoiled: on Wednesday, we’d popped into Grom while meandering around the West Village. Grom is a total Italian import: they have dozens of shops up and down the boot, plus a couple international locations (New York being one). So it is good. It’s all natural, no preservatives or weird coloring, organic when possible, and as a result, I would imagine, of this exacting quality control/ingredient sourcing and know-how, each flavor tastes like the truest iteration of itself. The chocolate is deep, with coffee undertones and only a little bitter, while the vanilla is incredibly mellow and luscious. The coffee gelato is like a strong pull of espresso. The best.
Which is all to say, we’re pretty tough customers, so watch out. (We’re kind of a big deal.) The length of Eataly’s gelato line certainly pointed to a large fan base. There were about a dozen flavors to choose from — traditional fruit flavors plus your typical chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, coffee and so on. B got the stracciatella, and I had vanilla with cookies crushed in it (name forgotten; sorry). And I loved how, unlike many gelaterias, they offered crunchy cones and not just plastic cups.
In point of fact, I think Grom’s pure, intense flavors make it the better gelato. But both places are so wonderful, so at-the-top-of-their-game, that you really can’t go wrong with either. And lest we forget, Eataly’s shop lives inside a wonderful Italian market/eatery, and it’s hard to discount the delight of munching on a cone of bacio gelato while picking up fresh tortellini, mozzerella (made on site!) and a fistful of chocolates. Not that I’ve done this. A girl can dream. Barring that, have your sweet across the street in Madison Square Park. When we had ours, it was seventy degrees out — there are truly no better days.