Creamy, custardy Italian-style gelato gets its flavor on at il laboratorio del gelato, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Yes, there are vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, but those are just three of the more than 200 flavors that owner John Snyder has formulated since he opened the “lab” in 2002. There’s Mexican Cinnamon, Butternut Squash, Beet, Rose Petal, and five kinds of fig gelato, for starters. Plus, there are dozens of sorbets, from Fuji Apple to Yuzu.
Snyder grew up serving ice cream at his grandparents’ Carvel stand in Cortlandt Manor, New York, which his grandmother ran for 30 years before passing it on to her daughters. “I was the only one of the cousins who wanted to stay until 3 in the morning and make extra flavors,” Snyder told The New York Times. And when he had his first taste of gelato, as a teenager, he went to Italy to learn its secrets. Launching the Ciao Bella gelato company when he was only 19, Snyder devoted himself to making his business a smash hit. At 25 he sold the company and finished his Columbia MBA. He then did a few years trading stocks before returning to the true love of his life, gelato.
These days some of Snyder’s family members also work in il laboratorio, and chefs come in to puzzle out innovative flavors with the team. You can stop by the café at the Ludlow Street location or pick up pints at stores like Zabar’s, in New York. Il laboratorio will even ship you 20-oz. containers for yourself or as a nicely chilled gift for someone.