Gelato oh-so-giusto!

Don't look at your calendar.  Your calendar says it's the first day of Fall.  But we don't exactly abide by the summer calendar.  If it's hot and muggy and my air conditioner is still running at night?  You can be sure we're still getting ice cream. Or in this case, gelato!  Again!  MAN, is gelato having  a moment or something??  Or is it that people are finally getting wise that having good, quality gelato beats that ubiquitous Mr. Softee truck any day?

Can't recall who put this on my radar.  $10 says it was Time Out, but I've lost track.  Not living in Brooklyn this summer meant that I crossed off a TON more Manhattan spots than ever before!  I was looking at what was left of The List to tackle, and decided that another new gelato spot would add nicely to this summer's growing theme (last year's being surprisingly out-there flavors).

Gelato Giusto (which loosely translates to "the right gelato" as in, gelato done well -- hence my adorably punny blog title) is the NY outpost of a Milanese gelateria by the same name.  The chef of Gelato Giusto, a cute redhead that simply goes by the name Vittoria, has a long laundry list of pasticceria experience ranging from Harrod's in London to Laduree in Paris.  Returning to Milan, she decided to create a shop of luxury pastries, characterized by the genuineness of prime materials and passion "per la qualità degli ingredienti."

Now, everyone knows that Italian gelato is a national pastime and nearly a birthright.  I guess it never occurred to me that it would be made any way but with craftsmanship.  But I forget that half of their customers are tourists, and so, much like everything else in this world, I'm sure there are shortcuts.

Gelato Giusto's website specifically claims my favorite things:  produzione giornaliera (made daily), solo ingrediente naturale (only using natural ingredients), latte fresca di alta qualita (fresh milk of high quality), and frutta fresca di stagione (fresh fruit of the season).

So already I am on board.  Our NY outposts comes to life when an Italian insurance broker-turned chef, Lorenzo Franchetti, becomes pals with Vittoria and announced his plans to expand Gelato Giusto to New York, which he found seriously lacking of good, proper gelato.  Then - here's the best part - he went to the GELATO UNIVERSITY in Bologna.  !!!! There's a GELATO UNIVERSITY, people!!  (wait a minute.......this rings a bell.  Haven't we talked about this before??  Must investigate back log of blog.)  He then studied under Vittoria and finally opened up this adorable Chelsea shop in early 2015.

And by now I know you are thinking:  Jeanette, who cares, how was the damn gelato??  But I'm telling you that all this matters because above all, Gelato Giusto is delightfully authentic.  From the crisp, European attitude of the counter girl who when asked what farm the dairy came from looked at me like I was an imbecile to not know that it was supplied locally, and likewise for the ingredients - "From Italy, of course" in that wonderful sung accent.  To the three-or-so-odd people who were sitting in the small shop reading the newspaper(!) as if time was of no issue.  To the dropping in and out of Italian and English to various customers (I think they have regulars!).  To the adorable sign explaining to the dumb Americans that they were most certainly NOT an ice cream shop.


And finally, yes, to the gelato itself, in simple flavors ranging from Vanilla to Pistacchio (their spelling) to Chocolate, and all colors of fruit sorbet.


If I had thought a second longer, I should have gone classic not rogue and gotten that Pistachio.  Dangit!  But I can't help myself so I got Lavendar and Custard.


The lavender was delicious but intense (herbs from the mother country herself, don't forget) and the custard flavor was a little underwhelming, but the texture was perfetto, and so I will easily go back and try different flavors next time.  Mostly I was in love with the whole experience.  Stepping in off the street on a hot day felt like being transported into another world.  I actually SAT(!) and ate my gelato for once! (I always take it to go.) And with Lorenzo himself behind the counter offering a quick , effortless grazie to the customers, I could visit every day, enjoy a stolen moment of bliss, and be happy.

Gelato vs. GELATO


I started out ice cream season with gelato.  I know, I know - you're thinking, No you didn't, you went and got that crazy shake and that ice cream they froze on the spot!  Au contraire, mon ami. You see, before it was officially ice cream season, we had a coupla nice days thrown in there.  And I was spontaneously in Madison Square Park, and I ducked into Eataly to use the bathrooms (oh come on, like you haven't) and noticed something was suspiciously awry: there was no heinous line of tourists lined up for gelato in their café/ gelateria (which there always is, cause it's one of five things people think of when they think "ITALIAN FOOD").  A few years ago someone had recommended I try their Dolce di Primavera flavor, but since I have refused to stand in that line (but somehow standing in this line or this line is fine??) it's taken me till this year to try it.  Unfortunately, that flavor was no longer was being offered, and the girl behind the counter was not having any questions about which was her favorite, so I just got a classic:  Menta Bianca & Straciatella (in case you have somehow missed that I really, really like white mint gelato).


And you know, it was fine. (Sorry this picture doesn't do it justice.  Or does it do it just fine?)   It certainly wasn't the worst gelato I've had in my life, but for all the waiting people do?  It wasn't the best, either.  I kinda expected more from Eataly - a place known for its imported Italian food - for gosh sakes.

And then I went to Gastronomie 491.

Gastronomie 491 is a little café on the UWS.   Opened just 4 years ago, it's a Mediterranean-inspired specialty food market.  There's gourmet cheeses, cured meats, and chocolates, which is a little odd at first glance, but there's also a little pastry shop when you first walk in and let's be honest, I've gotten ice cream at stranger places.

The gelato counter is on your left as you enter, and is manned by a singular person, one Josh Brambir, chef and owner of said gelato counter, which, as it turns out, is not actually affiliated with Gastronomie, but sorta using their facility in a mutually wonderful relationship.

Josh was happy and excited to share his gelato with me.  He makes it daily on site, using Gastronomie's kitchen, and changes the flavors weekly.  He gets his milk from Hudson Valley, and when he is in need of other flavor ingredients, he sources them locally.

I was told by this New York Times article to get something amazing-sounding called Salted Maple, but on hand were only 8 flavors, none of which were salted maple.  Slightly disappointed, this is why I started talking to Josh, cause I just didn't want Vanilla or Milk Chocolate.  He recommended the Key Lime, and I'm SOO glad he did, cause it was pretty freakin' phenomenal.  If you took the best Key Lime pie you ever had in your life and stuck it in the freezer and then let it melt a little bit and put it in a cup?  That would be Josh's Key Lime gelato.  Perfectly creamy.  Epically flavorful.  It may have been devoured by the time I crossed the street.  It was DIVINE.


You may have noticed I called it "Josh's gelato."  Josh shared with me his plans for world domination -- err, I mean, expansion into the NYC market.  I promised not to blow up his spot - to not mention the new company before he made public the new company - but suffice it to say that his new gelato company deserves all the independence and big-girl pants it has won, and I totally look forward to visiting him in future seasons!

In the interim, I might just go back every weekend to see what's he concocted, in someone else's kitchen.  But I truly hope to show up one day and not see him there at all.