My search for the best ice cream in New York continues….
Anybody who watches Top Chef knows that food is supposed to look as good as it tastes. And some of those dishes the contestants put out look stunning, like works of art. And I’ve been fortunate enough to eat at restaurants where you have to really consider whether you want to use your fork to destroy the chef’s handiwork. But never in my 30-something years, have I ever thought twice before devouring an ice cream cone. Maybe because of the calories, but certainly not because of the aesthetics.
Leave it to the Italians to make me think twice. Amorino recently opened in the West Village to some major excitement. It’s the first U.S. branch of an Italian gelato company. They’ve arrived in hopes of giving Grom a run for their money and based on my first experience there, they just might succeed.
The interior is very classy and European and actually reminds me of the previously mentioned Grom. A few tables and chairs, but I imagine most people come in to take a cone to-go. Now here’s the exciting part: you don’t have to sample anything because you can get as many flavors as you’d like on one cone. Come again? That’s right. This is place is a dream come true for indecisive ice cream lovers like you and me. Can’t decide between hazelnut, banana, burnt salted caramel, coffee, and speculoos (a gingerbread-like Dutch cookie)? Well, you can get them all!
And that’s just what I did. Because of the handsome presentation, you can get up to 20 flavors on even a small order. What they do here is they serve little scoops of each flavor around another so that it blossoms into what looks like a flower-like cornucopia of gelati. It’s quite ingenious and is the cause of many “ooh’s” and “aah’s”.
Now since I don’t have much of an eye for art (and because I prefer the sweet, rich flavors to the lighter fruit sorbets), my cone wasn’t as colorful as it could have been. It was still a neat swirl of layered ice cream, but it was all sort of a wash of white, beige, and brown. No matter. The first bite or two was incredible. The speculoos was everything I imagined it would be, the burnt salted caramel was subtle and sweet, the coffee was strong, and then it sort of became blurry. I’m not sure if it was how I ate it or if I had picked one too many flavors, but it all started to bleed together. It became difficult to taste much aside from sweet, creamy, and cold.
But I fully blame myself here. The ice cream was smooth and soft and from those first few bites, I could tell they were deeply, authentically flavored. I think I just got a little over-excited with the range of possibilities. And so these little bite-size scoops became more of a tease than anything else.
The other reason everybody’s been talking about Amorino is because of the focaccina. It takes the ice cream sandwich to a whole new level. And that’s why they can charge $7 for it! We had to see what all the fuss was about. It reminded me of a cream puff. It’s a dark brioche roll that is magically stuffed with your choice of gelato. The bread is grilled, served warm and when you bite into it, the cold ice cream contrasts with the hot bread. It’s pretty brilliant. And I imagine most people who try it will love it.
For one minor reason, it didn’t blow me away. The brioche was a little too malty and sweet for me – it reminded me of a panettone (you know, those packaged Christmas fruit cakes). I was hoping for something a little more buttery and less raisiny. But the concept was awesome and I like the warm, hot bread with the cold creamy ice cream. Most everybody else will love this and for good reason.
And unlike some other gelaterias in the city, you don’t have to order a large size if you want to try more than one flavor. In addition to really great gelato, Amorino gives you options. And really pretty options at that.
Is Amorino the best ice cream in NY? The only fault I have with it is my own for picking too many flavors that got muddied together, but the fact that they allow that with their really good gelato earns them a 9 out of 10.
|60 University Place (at East 10th Street)