Manhattan, New York – Il Laboratorio Del Gelato

Restaurant: Il Laboratorio Del Gelato
Gelato/Desserts/Ice Cream
Last visited:
September 3, 2011
Manhattan, NY (Lower East Side)
95 Orchard St
Nearby subway stop:
Delancy Street
Price Range: 
$10 or less

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6Tres Excellent!!

Food: 2.5-3
Service: 3
Ambiance: 2.5
Overall: 2.5
Additional comments:

  • Independently owned
  • Specializes in gelato
  • Italian ice cream/sorbets
  • Hand made in small batches
  • 200 rotating flavours
  • Traditional flavours
  • Sophisticated/unusual flavours
  • Fresh fruit sorbets
  • Free wholesale delivery
  • Coffee/tea available
  • Eat in/Take out
  • Limited seating
  • Daily 10am–6pm

**Recommendations: n/a, I guess it’s good for non-traditional flavours, but the texture wasn’t of authentic Italian gelato.

So while I probably should have been doing this…

… and a little bit of this… (yes, this is a photo I took of guys working out in the middle of Times Square)

I decided to do this!

I had just finished my dinner at Katz’s Deli and I was determined to head back to Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream. It was an ice cream truck I had walked by on my way to Katz’s and I was looking forward to having it after dinner. However as I walked out of Katz’s I noticed this! Il Laboratorio del Gelato. It was smack in front of my face, neighbours with Katz’s, and I recalled coming across it while doing dessert research in New York. The only thing coming in between me and it was one tiny street. I couldn’t pretend I didn’t see it, especially with its bright white lights glaring at me. So I crossed the street.

It was another laboratory, but this time it was for gelato! Hence the name Il Laboratorio Del Gelato. The Laboratory of Gelato or The Gelato Laboratory. The staff uniform was white lab coats and the whole thing looked like a surgery room, pharmaceutical or chemistry lab for gelato. This actually wasn’t the first culinary laboratory I came across. The last New York laboratory I blogged about was for cocktails – see my post for Apothéke. Both labs are dangerous, but in very different ways.

The Il Laboratorio Del Gelato website keeps referring to their products as artisan ice cream or Italian ice cream. To me ice cream, Italian ice cream and gelato are significantly different. Gelato is made with milk and incorporates less air than ice cream. Ice cream is made with cream and has more air and also higher fat content. Anyways I’m guessing they are referring to gelato when they call it ice cream.

The gelatos and sorbets are hand made in small batches daily and the flavours get very creative. However the texture was not of authentic high quality Italian gelato, although the ingredients may have been. They still have the standard and traditional flavours too, but I was more intrigued by their non-traditional gourmet ones.

People seem to love this place, which is fine, but there is better and I discovered it later on in my trip in New York. Being from Vancouver, BC, we actually have world class authentic Italian gelato (see my post for Bella Gelateria, or even Dolce Gelato) and after being very familiar with it, it’s hard to go back to anything else.

Of course even “bad” gelato is never really bad because it’s still a creamy cold dessert in the end, but nonetheless this left me wanting to find better. What I liked about Il Laboratorio Del Gelato were the unique flavours and fresh ingredients used, but what I didn’t like was the texture. The texture was hard and it should be creamy. It should never be a scoop, and this definitely was, and if not a scoop, it was breaking into chunks as a result of being too icy. I guess this may do the trick if you’re in the area, but otherwise I would recommend L’Arte Del Gelato if you’re on a mission to find good authentic Italian gelato in New York.

On the table:

Olive Oil Gelato3/6

  • Small $4.25 Medium $5.50 Large $6.75 20 oz take out box $10.50
  • It wasn’t as creamy as authentic Italian gelato should be.
  • It was almost more like ice cream especially since it came out as a scoop. Gelato should never be a scoop.
  • It had a richness and fruitiness of quality olive oil which made it already more creamy than some of their other flavours.
  • The olive oil flavour is not salty, nor does it have a greasy feel, but it is perhaps a bit acquired.
  • It’s not my first time having this and I actually loved the flavour, but the texture wasn’t quite right.
  • The best olive oil themed dessert I’ve had was at Cioppino’s in Vancouver, BC – see Olive Oil (featuring warm tender cake with dried fruit, white chocolate-olive oil custard, and Laudemio ice-cream.)

Red Beet Gelato2.5/6

  • Small $4.25 Medium $5.50 Large $6.75 20 oz take out box $10.50
  • Yes, I tend to go for interesting flavours because it’s less likely to come across them.
  • The red beet gelato was definitely too hard and icy for being authentic Italian gelato.
  • The olive oil gelato had a better texture for sure, and even that one wasn’t creamy enough.
  • The red beet was more like ice cream meets a sorbet, but I could see and taste real red beets pureed into it.
  • There were no chunks of beets and it was smooth, but I could still get the thickness of the added puree.
  • Beets are naturally sweet, so this was naturally sweet as well with less added sugar and of course milk.
  • There was an obvious red beet flavour and I could taste the little bits of pureed beets in it.
  • This is the first time I’ve had red beet gelato, but not red beet sorbet – see red beet sorbet here.

Pink Peppercorn Gelato – I didn’t get to try this, but this is the sort of interesting flavours they offer. They still offer the traditional flavours too though.

Terragon Pink Peppercorn Gelato3/6

  • Another creative flavour that I could appreciate, but I didn’t want an entire scoop of it.
  • It wasn’t savoury, but it’s considered a savoury flavour. There’s still sugar in it, so it is sweet.
  • It had an herby and mildly licorice flavour and the pink peppercorn gave it a bit of heat, but it wasn’t spicy.
  • The ingredients were used subtly although they did come across in the gelato.

Green Apple Sorbet 2.5/6

  • It was obviously made with fresh apples and it even included the apple skin.
  • It pretty much tasted like frozen icy pureed apple puree and I wouldn’t really call it sorbet.
  • I appreciate the fresh and real ingredients, but it’s just not sorbet and it was scooping out in chunks.

Il Laboratorio Del Gelato on Urbanspoon


  • KimHo says:

    Just for the record, had they called it “Ice Cream Lab” or something on those lines (i.e., no reference to gelato at all), how would you “rank” them?

    You doing push ups? Remember, you exercise by lifting forks, spoons or knives! 😉

  • Isabel says:

    Why shouldn’t gelato be a scoop? I recall my gelato at Bella Gelateria coming out in scoop form sometimes… I don’t get your aversion to it. Enlighten me?

  • yeppers says:

    Agreed, didn’t like their gelato either. I think I tried fig and blue cheese. I had samples of passionfruit, lemon and a yoghurt one too, but they were all “meh”.

  • Mijune says:

    @KimHo – lol.. again.. u know me well! If they called it ice cream lab I would say it was 4/6. It really seemed more like ice cream… but ice cream at the truck I had later was still better.

    @isabel – When it’s a scoop it’s not as fresh… James would have freaked out if he saw you get a scoop at Bella… he’s super picky about “scoops”… I’m forbidden to ever call his gelato a “scoop” lol. It’s supposed to be creamy and when it’s hard or comes out as a scoop it’s either over frozen or in the case at Bella the “tub” was at the bottom where it’s colder…. if the gelato is not hard from being too frozen they add a chemical to it which makes it freeze and get hard. It’s this chemical/additive called E__?__ or B__?__ (I’m sorry I forget the name)… but once you add that chemical the gelato will freeze and not be creamy. Real authentic Italian gelato is supposed to be enjoyed soft, creamy, thick, dense and almost melting for optimal flavour and taste. 🙂

    @yeppers – mmm that flavour sounds great… but looks like we’re on the same page 🙁

  • Linda says:

    i scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! 🙂 i love ice cream, well more specifically gelato! lucky i don’t live too close to bella or else i’d be there EVERYDAY! are you going and james collaborating on special flavours again this year? i hope so 🙂

    personally, i like ice cream parlours to have a bit more personality and looking at the pics of this place, it seems to be lacking.. i understand that its supposed to resemble a lab but i wished there were more kitchy stuff inside like beakers or cylinders or something!

    just on your pictures alone, the gelato definitely does not look like gelato – very thin and not very creamy like at all!

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – I hope to o some special flavours, but I haven’t even thought so far ahead! I should though! Exciting!! Love gelato!! I had 4-8 scoops for 8 days in a row in Italy and brought home 10 lbs with me lol… that’s how much I love it!

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