Marketplace: Il Laboratoria Del Gelato
08/04/2005 07:00 PM
With the last days of summer steaming up the city, NY1's Shazia Khan discovers a sweet way to cool off as gelato shop owner John Snyder takes her on a tour of his Lower East Side “laboratory.”
Copyright © 2008 NY1 News
Dressed in a starched white lab coat, the man behind New York’s sweetest solution to the summer heat looks like he's on the verge of a medical breakthrough.
But instead, John Snyder is simply serving up a cure for your sweet tooth at his Lower East Side shop, il Laboratoria del Gelato.
Snyder, who grew up working at his grandfather’s Carvel shop, says the secret to good ice cream is simple.
“It’s just about using really good ingredients. There's really nothing complicated about making good ice cream,” said Snyder.
And Snyder's creations are simple, sweet, sinful and successful.
Il Laboratorio del Gelato placed number one for ice cream in this year's Zagat gourmet marketplace survey. And people we talked to overwhelmingly agreed.
“It tastes very freshly made, very creamy” said one sampler as she took in a spoonful. “It’s excellent.”
Another found the perfect flavor for the record-breaking temperatures.
“I picked the lemon sorbet because it’s very hot and the lemon is very cool and refreshing,” said the customer. "And I have to say it’s good.”
It's good because Snyder has been in the ice cream business for as long as he can remember. After learning the ropes at his grandfather’s Westchester Carvel shop, Snyder, at just 19, opened his own shop, the award-winning Ciao Bella.
“I took a trip to Italy and I fell in love with gelato, with the way Italians make ice cream,” recalls Snyder. “And that spurred me to quit school and start Ciao Bella.”
Then, at 25, Snyder sold Ciao Bella, finished college, and after a few years on Wall Street decided to return to his first love.
He developed all-new recipes, imported a machine from Italy and, in 2002, opened il Laboratorio del Gelato. Even his mom and siblings stop by to pitch in.
Since then he's been churning out what Zagat surveyors call “small batches of intense flavors.”
While Snyder’s retail shop is successful, 90 percent of his business is wholesale. Nearly 200 restaurants, including hotspots like Pastis and Bombay Talkie, serve his distinct gelato flavors, which are always changing.
“The idea behind the name of 'laboratory' was really being a place where we can develop new flavors and work with chefs to come up with unique flavors for their own menus,” explained Snyder.
Snyder's unique flavors include honey lavender, thai chili chocolate and tarragon with pink peppercorn. They keep gelato afficianodos on their toes — but even with more than 80 different flavors, good ol' vanilla remains the most popular.
Nevertheless, with flavors like mascarpone and black sesame, the menu is constantly changing — so with each visit you're sure to find something new.