The avocado gelato at Il Laboratorio del Gelato
Sometimes the food is about more than just the food.
Flavor is a factor, of course, but given food experience is also influenced by the ambiance, the price, the service, the level of love involved in the operation and the convenience factor (not to mention the quality level when compared to other available options).
Recently caught the grip of a sultry spring evening, and J and I trekked up to Grom, the first US outpost of an Italian chain that's fast become the Upper West Side's must-have sweet fix. Not surprisingly, so did hundreds of other New Yorkers.
Milling about in a line that stretched down to 76th street, we compared notes with our fellow line lizards. The couple ahead were true believers, back for another fix. The couple behind questioned the collective intelligence of sixty people who would wait in line upwards of 30 minutes for pricey cups of gelato.
The verdict? Grom is good. Their menu promising seasonal change is appealing. Their Slow Food-approved flavors are compelling. And their rich, dark Ecuadorian Extranoir Chocolate was probably the best flavor of the sampling we tried.
But truthfully, my perennial favorite, Il Laboratorio del Gelato, is still better. A spoon-to-spoon comparison of Grom's pistachio vs. Laboratorio's pistachio revealed more richness and more ka-pow pistachio flavor for a significantly lower price. (A small cup runs $3.50 at LdG vs. $4.75 (plus 8.375% tax) at Grom.)
For some, Grom's uptown location and conveniently late-night hours (Laboratorio closes around six — unbearably early for those with impulsive post-dinner cravings) may outweigh the benefits of Laboratorio's creamy superiority. I respect that. But for my purposes, I'll make the effort to stock the freezer with Laboratorio in those few sweet hours when they're open.
Grom's not bad, but thankfully, there are better options. This girl does not live on Grom alone.
GROM (Gelato Come Una Volta)
2165 Broadway (betwn 76th & 77th)
Il Laboratorio del Gelato
95 Orchard St (below Delancey)