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Taste of the LES: Il Laboratorio del Gelato

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Photo by roboppy via Flickr.

The Grand Street Settlement’s Taste of the Lower East is just a day away. For the past month, we’ve been profiling many of this year’s participants. We saved one of the most enticing entries until second last — il laboratorio del gelato, the walk-up ice cream mecca on Orchard Street.

Jon Snyder comes from ice cream royalty. His grandfather, James Ceriale, built many of the original Carvel stores, starting in 1951. After returning from Italy at age 19, Snyder decided to strike out on his own, creating the Ciao Bella Gelato Company. Before long, he was selling to the city’s most formidable restaurants, including the River Cafe and the Russian Tea Room. Snyder sold the company in 1989 but he could not stay away.

Fast forward to 2002, when Snyder stumbled upon a 550 square foot place across the street from the Tenement Museum. Snyder said he’d really never spent any time below Houston Street, so he was intrigued by the location. In a more general sense, he had a strong desire to open his business downtown to help in his “own small way” revitalize Lower Manhattan after 9/11. “I’ve never regretted the choice and in fact believe I couldn’t have made a better one,” he said.

For the past three years, Snyder has been looking to expand – but wanted to make sure he found the perfect spot. A couple of months ago he announced il laboratorio del gelato is finally making the big move — to 188 Ludlow, just below Houston.  It’s a 2750 square foot store, right across from Katz’s. How does pastrami and gelato sound?

There will be more space for new, state-of-the-art equipment, but also seating for customers intent on consuming their purchases on the spot. While there are only 20 flavors or so on Orchard Street, the new store will offer 50! And there will be toppings: hot fudge, caramel, raspberry coulis (all made in-house). Teaming up with highly regarded Four Barrel Coffee of San Francisco, Snyder will be adding a full line of coffee and espresso drinks. Also, there will be an espresso granita with a dollop of house-made whipped cream, a tribute to Sant’Eustachio in Rome (one of Snyder’s favorites). The new place will be open late – 10pm on weeknights, midnight on weekends. Target opening date: sometime in July.

Snyder has taken part in the Taste of the LES every year since 2003. He believes it’s a good way to give back to the community. If you’d like more information about the event, or the Grand Street Settlement, check out our recent story here – and follow the link to their web site.

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