By Meg A. Parsont
I have a confession to make. I’ve started a summer romance. The object of my affection is sweet, rich, and geographically desirable. I’m a happily married woman but I just couldn’t resist. My heart belongs to the Chocolate Whiskey Brownie gelato at Screme Gelato Bar on Amsterdam Avenue and West 94th Street.
I’ve typically been more of an ice cream person—or so I thought—but my first taste of that intense chocolate gelato with small brownie chunks and a slight kick of whiskey was a revelation. It has a silkier texture than traditional American ice cream with an intense and complex flavor that got me wondering, what’s the difference between ice cream and gelato?
Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream, but there are some major differences in how these frozen treats are made. While both gelato and ice cream contain cream, milk, and sugar, gelato has a higher proportion of milk and a lower proportion of cream. Unlike ice cream, gelato also generally doesn’t include egg yolks. Because gelato is churned more slowly, it incorporates less air and results in a denser product. American ice cream is served at a colder temperature which allows for the scoops to hold their shape. Since gelato is served at a slightly warmer temperature, its texture stays softer, which is why it’s served using a paddle to form a scoop-like shape.
Behind the counter at Amarino Gelato al Naturale on Amsterdam Avenue between 79th-80th Streets, servers artfully shape gelato into flowers in their signature cones—either chocolate dipped or plain. Capped off with one of their macarons, these creations are a true feast for the eye. In addition to classic gelato flavors like Dulce de Leche, Chocolate Hazelnut, and Stracciatella, they offer Blueberry Cheesecake, Sri Lankan Coconut, and Mascarpone and Fig, among others. They also have a great selection of vegan sorbet flavors. My personal favorite, and the perfect complement to their rich chocolate gelato, is the refreshing lime basil sorbet. Since its inception, Amarino, which has locations around the world, has developed more than 20 Organic-certified gelato flavors.
Screme Gelato Bar is an outpost of Israel’s largest gelato company. With a selection of 200 rotating flavors, the choices are mind-boggling, in the best possible way! There is something to suit every taste, ranging from the classics to the purest Madagascar vanilla to creative concoctions like a maraschino cherry-studded Panna Cotta and of course, my beloved Chocolate Whiskey Brownie. Screme also serves both traditional and more original sorbet flavors, including a deep, dark cherry. Its products are made with all natural ingredients, without oil, eggs, preservatives, or food coloring, and are certified kosher.
Years ago when I went to Italy, no day was complete without at least one gelato. On the Upper West Side, the gelato at both Screme and Amarino is a mini-vacation in a cup—or a cone. Happy summer!
Here’s the start of a list. Add your favorite UWS gelato spot in the comments.
Screme Gelato Bar
176 W. 94th Street on Amsterdam Avenue
Open from 11 am-12 am
Closed for Shabbat Friday evenings and Saturdays
Available for on-site parties and events
Amarino Gelato al Naturale
414 Amsterdam Avenue between 79-80th Streets
Open Monday-Thursday and Sunday from noon-11 pm; Friday and Saturday from noon-11:30 pm
Those places are good. Alas, the best gelato in NY is not around anymore. I don’t know why. It was Grom. They had at least 3 locations i.e. on the UWS on Broadway, Columbus Circle, and the Village. Does anyone know why they went out ?
btw Anita Gelato on 81st/2nd when on the UES is pretty good. I prefer your two more
Grom was the best. Who knows why it vanished. Probably high rent. I wish everything wasn’t about money!
Venchi, an Italian Chocolatier, also serves gelato. The two closest stores are at 69th/Columbus and Columbus Circle.
Does it also sell sorbet?
Venici is excellent, I prefer it to Amorino though I think it’s a little pricer (not sure, that’s my subjective impression from multiple purchases at both) and I go to the former more because it’s much closer. As far as price, let’s face it – you don’t buy it from a retail storefront if you’re concerned about that. I do it so I only eat that one or two scoops 🙂
Yes, I enjoyed Grom. I read Unilever bought them in 2015 and after that stores started closing.
Meg: A well-researched and tasty article! My only disappointment is that, at this hour, neither gelateria is open for a scoop or two.
But there is a difference between an Italian once-a-day gelato and the ones pictured here. The Italian cones are so tiny and you need a microscope to see the the gelato. Not like an American 2 scoops cone.
Hi, Roseann. Been in Italy for 2-1/2 months now and consumed a lot of gelato. Haven’t seen any tiny cones. You can get any size serving from a piccolo to a grande but the cones look quite ordinary to me. I’m not fond of the cones themselves so I get my gelato in a coppa.
Once you have gelato in Italy, you stop buying it here. Huge difference.
Screme’s Captain Crunch gelato is honestly one of the best desserts ever! It transported me back to being a kid with the first taste and I couldn’t help but laugh with happiness with each bite. I went back a few more times over the years but they never had that flavor again each time I would check. I just gave up eventually.
Amorino and Screme may be good, but at least you can get in. Try getting in to the Venchi on Columbus Circle. The lines are ridiculous. Clearly, Venchi is the new “thing.”